Student Work

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-31-2018


A 2017-2018 William Prize for best essay in East Asian Studies was awarded to Andrew Weiss (Davenport College '18) for his essay submitted to the East Asian Studies Program, "Towards a Beautiful Japan: Right-Wing Religious Nationalism in Japan's LDP” (Frances Rosenbluth, Damon Wells Professor of Political Science, advisor).

Andrew Weiss, a double major in East Asian Studies and Global Affairs, spent several months of field work in Japan over the summer and winter of 2017 to understand the role of right-wing Shinto in the thinking and politics of the Liberal Democratic Party. Why is the LDP and Abe in particular clinging to fringe ideas at a possible electoral cost? Weiss, with assiduous digging through multiple kinds of written work and by interviewing dozens of politicians, journalists, religionists, and regular citizens, uncovered how the right-wing faction in the LDP is able to hide behind Abe’s economy-first platform, while also flooding social media with nationalist interpretations shunned by the mainstream conservative press like the Yomiuri. Weiss’ dogged tenacity to track down the parts of the puzzle helped to make his thesis, “Towards a Beautiful Japan: Right-Wing Religious Nationalism in Japan's LDP,” a truly impressive piece of scholarly work.