I started my career at IDE-JETRO with research projects on big business groups, corporate governance, family businesses, and the state–business relationship in Venezuela from the 1990s through the first decade of the 21st century. However, since the radical leftist Hugo Chavez came in power in 1999, it has become difficult to continue researching these topics. Because politics has become the most decisive factor in all economic activities, I have shifted the focus of my research toward the country’s politics, while continuing to investigate the economic situation of the country as well. I was able to conduct sabbatical research for 4 years in total in Caracas, both before Chavez came to power and during (1995–1997 and 2009–2011, respectively). I published a book entitled Venezuela: Melting Democracy, Collapsing Economy in 2021 (in Japanese), which analyzes the two decades under Chavez and his successor Maduro from multiple perspectives.
Current research projects
Since my second sabbatical years (2009–2011), I have shifted the focus of my research to the decline of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism under the Chavez and Maduro administrations in Venezuela. In my recent works, including the book mentioned above, I have analyzed the transformation of “competitive authoritarianism” under Chavez into “authoritarianism without electoral competition under Maduro. More recently, my research has focused on two themes: the constitutional reforms that weakened democracy and facilitated the shift to authoritarianism, and the human rights violations carried out by the state and the international human rights regime. In addition, I have also been working on a new topic, namely, the digitalization of economic and social life in Venezuela, which includes the use of cryptocurrencies, digital payments, and digital international money transfers that have rapidly spread to meet the needs left by the collapse of the formal economic system under hyperinflation.