In the past decade, smoking has gone from being widely accepted in Korean and Japanese society to being increasingly frowned upon and regulated. Instead of depending on nonsmokers’ tolerance and smokers’ etiquette, recent reforms impose more detailed and expansive nonsmoking rules and penalties for noncompliance. As the Japanese government’s promotional materials note, the reforms move “from manners to rules” (manā kara rūru e). What explains this shift toward more legalistic governance, with formal rules and enforcement mechanisms? Smoking regulations offer an ideal case for analyzing the interaction between law and social norms in shaping approaches to social control in Japan and Korea. Drawing on 45 original interviews and qualitative analysis of policy deliberations, advocacy organization documents, court rulings, and Japanese news coverage, I trace how societal actors have contributed to the legalistic turn in smoking regulations by de-normalizing smoking and thus rendering it regulatable. Tobacco control advocates filed lawsuits related to secondhand smoke, pursued voluntary changes through local initiatives, leveraged an international treaty, provided information subsidies to policymakers, and expanded reform coalitions to achieve legislative changes. By theorizing the mechanisms and processes through which societal actors affect regulatory style, this paper contributes to scholarship on governance, policy diffusion, and law and social change.
Celeste Arrington is Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University. With a regional focus on the Koreas and Japan, her comparative research investigates policymaking, social movements, lawyers, governance, and transnational advocacy. Her first book was Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea (Cornell, 2016). She has published articles in Comparative Political Studies, Law & Society Review, Journal of East Asian Studies, Law & Policy, Asian Survey, and elsewhere. With Patricia Goedde, she co-edited Rights Claiming in South Korea (Cambridge, 2021). Her latest book project analyzes the emergence of legalistic governance through paired case studies of recent reforms related to tobacco control and disability rights. She received her AB from Princeton, MPhil from Cambridge, and PhD from UC Berkeley.
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