Hedging in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's political speech

Lely Demiyati, M. Umar Muslim, Uti Aryanti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Hedging is one of politeness strategies used to save both the speaker's and hearer's self-esteem. By using hedges, that is linguistic elements for hedging, speakers can maintain their good relationship with the hearers. The object of this research is hedging in Japanese political speeches. The objective of this research is to identify types and functions of hedging in the speeches of the Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Knowing how the Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used hedges can shed light on how Japanese politicians use language to maintain their power. This study, therefore, can contribute to understanding the use of language in politics. The data of this study consist of five Shinzo Abe's speeches taken from the website Prime Minister and Cabinet at http://www.kantei.go.jp. From these speeches, we identified all the hedges. The hedges found in the speeches were analyzed using the taxonomy and functions of hedges according to Salager-Meyer (1994). The analysis shows that the most frequently used hedges in political speeches by Shinzo Abe is introductory phrases (50%), followed by modal auxiliaries (22%), approximators of degree quantity (11%), lexical verbs (6%), adjectival, adverbial and nominal modal phrases (5%), 'if' type clauses (4%), and compound hedge (2%). In addition, the function of hedging in the speeches of Shinzo Abe is to mitigate and protect himself from critique, show politeness, prevent confrontation, build a good relation with the hearer, and show lack of commitment or responsibility. This study is one of many studies dealing with political language by political leaders in different countries, such as language used by the former U.S.A. President George Bush (Fraser 2010). Different politicians from different countries use different linguistic strategies to maintain their power. This seems to be closely related to their cultural background---an issue which has not been explored in many studies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOn Language, Education, Politics, and Identity
Subtitle of host publicationA Cross-Linguistics Perspective
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781536193374
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2021


  • Hedging
  • Politeness strategy
  • Political speeches
  • Shizo Abe


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