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Terasaki Postdoc Investigates Breakdown of Democracy

Terasaki Postdoc Investigates Breakdown of Democracy

Hiroyuki Yamamoto joins UCLA this academic year as the third Terasaki Postdoctoral Fellow.

By Lorena Olvera

Hiroyuki Yamamoto joins the UCLA Political Science department and the Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies this fall as the 2010-2011 Terasaki Postdoctoral Fellow. Yamamoto received his PhD in 2009 from the University of Virginia and spent a year teaching at the University of Richmond and then Washington and Lee University before accepting the postdoctoral position.

He writes that he is happy to return to California, having first visited as an exchange student at Palm Springs High School and again as a graduate student at UC San Diego.

Yamamoto will teach an undergraduate course on International Relations for the political science department in spring and give a lecture on Feb. 14 as part of the center's colloquium series.

“In my childhood, my grandmother used to tell me stories about her experience during World War II,” Yamamoto wrote in an email. When she related the struggles of living under a military dictatorship during the war, Yamamoto struggled to understand why the Japanese people did nothing to change it.

His quest to understand this period of Japan’s history spurred his interest in political science and led to his dissertation topic, “The Origins of Democratic Breakdown in Interwar Japan.” Discontent with present approaches on the subject, which Yamamoto says are more suitable for European cases, he brings circumstances in Japan to the foreground. He also strives to make them part of comparative discussions of the survival of democracies.

Yamamoto's research interests include interwar Europe, particularly the collapse of democratic regimes in Italy, Germany, and Austria in addition to Scandinavian cases. He is also interested in labor politics and economics in East Asia. His non-academic interests include helping homeless animals.

“Interestingly, helping animals allowed me to rediscover my compassion for people who experience hardships,” Yamamoto wrote.

Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies