Culture or Communicative Conflict? The Analysis of Equivocation in Broadcast Japanese Political Interviews

Ofer Feldman*, Ken Kinoshita, Peter Bull

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The focus of this article is on equivocation in Japanese televised interviews, broadcast over a 14-month period in 2012-2013 (before and after the general election of December 16, 2012). An analysis was conducted of responses to questions by three different groups (national politicians, local politicians, and nonpoliticians). Results showed a striking level of equivocation by both national and local politicians, who together equivocated significantly more than nonpoliticians. Furthermore, national-level Diet members equivocated significantly more than local politicians, and both coalition groupings when in power were significantly more likely to equivocate than when in opposition. The results were interpreted in terms of the situational theory of communicative conflict and also in terms of cultural norms characteristic of Japanese politics and society. The failure to consider the role of such norms, it is proposed, represents an important omission in the original theory of equivocation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-89
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 6
Externally publishedYes


  • Japan
  • media discourse
  • political interviews
  • television
  • theory of equivocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Language and Linguistics


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