Since 2014, the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project provides the largest and most comprehensive global dataset on democracy with some 27 million data points for 202 countries from 1789 to present. It includes over 450 disaggregated indicators to measure multiple conceptions of democracy, autocracy, human rights, civil liberties, media and internet freedom, disinformation, civil society, judicial independence, and political development. The V-Dem database enables new ways to study the nature, causes, and consequences of democracy, embracing its multiple meanings of the concept. The V-Dem project involves five Principal Investigators, fifteen Project Managers with individual responsibility for issue areas, more than thirty Regional Managers, about 160 Country Coordinators, and over 3,000 Country Experts. It is headquartered at the V-Dem Institute, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
In December 2019, the V-Dem Project established a regional center for Eastern Asia (hereafter the Regional Center) in Japan. This is the sixth of the regional centers of V-Dem around the world, which includes centers for Eastern Europe & Russia, Southern Europe, Central Asia, North America, and Southern Africa. The Regional Center’s primary coverage of countries is Northeastern Asia (Japan, China, Mongolia, North and South Korea, Taiwan), but Southeast Asian countries are also included in its scope of studies and activities. The Center is hosted at Keio University in Tokyo.
Objectives of the Regional Center
The East Asia Regional Center has the following objectives:
- Produce knowledge about the state of democracy in East Asia using the V-Dem database. Taking advantage of the unique nature of the V-Dem database, research fellows of the Regional Center, together with other scholars who are interested in using the database, will produce working papers, visual graphs, and policy briefs focusing on East Asia. The focal issues include the general state of democracy, the use of the internet for the spread of false information, and the sequencing of democratization and autocratization. At the same time, the Regional Center promotes
- Serve as the knowledge hub on the matters concerning democracy and autocratization in East Asia. Through its website, the Regional Center regularly publishes policy briefs, newsletters, and visual graphs based on the V-Dem database. Many of these materials will be translated into Japanese, Korean, and traditional Chinese so that the Center’s findings are more accessible to a broader range of readers. Involving the academics at the first-rated universities in the region, the Regional Center has a unique standing with high credibility.
- Support collaboration among scholars, practitioners, and journalists on democracy promotion. By organizing policy-oriented workshops, the Regional Center aims to encourage partnerships among scholars, practitioners (policymakers and civil society groups), and journalists in the region to better investigate the trajectories of democratic development and to find better policy schemes to promote democracy.
- Hold academic conferences and policy-oriented workshops on democracy and democracy promotion.
- Publish working paper series, policy briefs, newsletters, country reports, thematic reports, and visual graphs concerning the state of democracy in East Asia.
- Translate the abovementioned materials into Japanese, Korean, and traditional Chinese to enhance accessibility.
- Maintain the Regional Center website that publishes the abovementioned materials.