Stream A

Japanese Politics and International Relations in the 21st Century


A1: Calming Japan’s Security Crises: Continuity and Change in Japanese Security Crisis Management

Japan is facing a range of security crises accentuating economic and population decline. China’s rise seemingly challenges the Pax Americana status quo and law/rules-based norms upon which Japan gained prosperity and security. North Korea poses obvious security threats, but managing China’s rise while retaining sovereign integrity remains Japan’s core strategic crisis, complicated by wavering US commitment to Pax Americana and liberal norms. How is Japan managing the potential security implications of strategic crises? This panel addresses Japan’s security crises management, each paper adopting unique, complimentary approaches assessing the efficacy of Japanese policies. It initially examines how Japanese security responses to recent crises contrast with late-Cold War initiatives to determine actual innovation. It subsequently examines how representations of North Korean threats to Japan’s existence have enabled changes to Japan’s security policies alleviating the ontological security crisis of conservative revisionist’s produced by the effect of the ‘postwar regime’ upon gendered ideas of Japaneseness. North Korean missile-based threats drawing Japan into ever-closer US ballistic missile-defence (BMD) partnership are consequently examined regarding alliance equity and policy independence in BMD time-critical operational scenarios. Finally, seemingly contradictory US challenges to China and withdrawal from Asian trading conventions worry Tokyo policymakers that Japan could suffer the consequences of equivalent confrontation-withdrawal security policies, prompting an examination of the (re-)rise of China, the nature of US hegemony in transformation, and the future of Japan within a triangular Asian dynamic. 

This panel adopts an innovative multi-disciplinary/multiple-approach evaluation of Japanese security crisis management capacities in these four critical areas.

Continuity and Change in Japan’s Security Crises:  Late Cold War Crisis and Security Reforms in Perspective

Garren MULLOY, Daito Bunka University, [email protected]

With increasing defence budgets, new US-Japan security guidelines, constitutional reinterpretation, and a National Security Strategy focusing upon ‘pro-active pacifism’, the Abe government projects an air of innovation, but how innovative are such measures, and how effectively do they match the perceived security crises? Placing present events/crises in historical context allows evaluation of genuine innovation and continuity in current policy approaches.

This paper examines the last decade of the Cold War, comparing Japanese measures to meet the challenges of the post-détente, pre-glasnost Cold War, including embracing and internalising the Soviet threat and US-gaiatsu to overcome pacifist norms, US-alliance cooperation, and defence reforms, with equivalent measures taken since 2008. The contemporary equivalent of the North Korean missile-threat, the Soviet Backfire-bomber air-threat, is examined for its defence, social, and political impact, and compared to recent Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) initiatives. The 1970s efforts to militarily operationalise the Japan-US alliance are also compared with recent initiatives, as are defence planning and investment decisions, and technical and tactical innovations by the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF).

This paper aims to illustrate how despite the apparent security crisis of the late-Cold War, JSDF planning remained largely rudimentary, unrealistic, and badly mismatched to the stated threats, with a massive residual expectancy of US support, and that this has been partly replicated in current developments, but with less confidence in US dependability. From this base, the panel’s studies of BMD, threat internalisation, US alliance, and rising China issues will expand vital aspects of understanding Japanese security crises management.

The Emotional Crisis of Japanese Conservative Revisionists’, Imaginings of North Korea, and the Production of Preferred Masculine Japaneseness

Katie DINGLEY, University of Warwick, [email protected]

This paper will present how representations of North Korea in Japan have worked to write the conditions through which significant changes in security policy have been made possible, which in turn have worked to resolve the emotional crisis of Japan’s conservative revisionists. Conceptualising ontological security as an emotional need to be able to trust in the stability of both the social world and of our being in it, without being perturbed by existential anxieties, I will argue that for conservative revisionists in Japan, Japaneseness (or what it means to be Japanese) –including ideas about gender - is a significant structure within the “reality” through which their sense of ontological (in)security is formed. I start from the notion that the so-called ‘post-war regime’ has left many conservative revisionists in Japan with a sense of unease: their preferred Japaneseness has been lost leading to a disruption in their ability to trust their own sense of being – an ontological security crisis. Utilising both linguistic and visual sources, I will analyse representations of North Korea and Japan within Japanese conservative circles and demonstrate how a how a menacing North Korea creates the conditions through which changes to Japan’s security policy have been made possible. These changes, in turn, offer an opportunity for the alleviation of their ontological security crisis through the performative production of preferred masculine Japaneseness that is distinct from the ‘post-war regime’ way of being Japanese and thus eases the conservative revisionists’ ontological insecurity.

Undesirable military integration with the US? The growing possibility of ‘entrapment’ in the case of Japanese BMD.

Yuki WATAI, University of Warwick, [email protected]

Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) is a highly integrated system that entails extensive coordination and interoperability between the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and US military. Japan requires US military technology, such as additional Aegis systems and X-band radar, in order to comprehensively cover Japan’s territory. Japan also participated in BMD joint development and research, which has been further accelerated by the relaxation of the ban on arms exports. Now that collective-self defence has been partially permitted, joint military training has further intensified in the face of North Korean threats. While the significant development of Japan’s defence capability had been successfully managed to maintain the US alliance, from this point BMD is so critical to national defence that there is no turning back now for Japan. Ever increasingly active participation in US-led initiatives will be expected particularly from the current Abe administration, the view of which is strongly associated with ‘revisionism’, aiming to enlarge its international influence through constitutional revision. The post-war ‘anti-militarist’ notion has faded, which in turn increases the possibility of ‘entrapment’ within US military operations and grand strategy. This paper argues how US-Japan military relations have become highly integrated and intertwined, and suggests that Japan’s security policy has been in flux depending on shifting US initiatives, thereby potentially being at the mercy of Washington. This situation appears all the more uncertain due to the lack of strategic coherence within the Trump administration.

The (Re-)Rising of China as a Crisis?: Redefining the US-Japan Alliance in a Precarious Triangle

Misato MATSUOKA, Teikyo University, [email protected]

Despite occasional assertions of a more independent foreign policy, Japan has continuously been strengthening its alliance relationship with the United States. While some scholars in the early 2000s have been arguing that the ‘rise of China’ discourse was inconsequential for the bolstering of the US-Japan alliance, China’s ‘(re)-rise’ has in recent years become a dominant and explicit theme in official Japanese policy documents. Hence, periods of US decline and foreign political ‘over-stretch’ notwithstanding, the US-led alliance system remains crucial for security policy-making in the Asia-Pacific. This paper addresses this gap in the existing literature through the revisiting of the concept of hegemony. Applying Gramsci’s views on crisis, the notion of ‘organic crisis’ in particular, to the US-Japan alliance relationship, the paper aims to provide a better explanation for the persistence of the US hegemony of the post-war and post-Cold War periods in the face of a (re-)rising China by means of the rule of laws. Specifically, the period after the late 1990s will be explored when the alliance was ‘redefined’ and considered a pillar of Asia-Pacific security. Underscoring the role of actors including ‘Japan handlers’, this paper illustrates the ways organic crises have been functioned as triggers to strengthen US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific. This paper further argues that Japan’s relationship with China remains greatly influenced by US foreign policy toward China, which signals Japan’s lack of strategic commitment with China.

A2: Three Crises of Japanese Diplomacy: Three studies of Japanese foreign policy challenges in the cold war era

This panel aims to illustrate how critical issues of foreign policy are conceptualised and discussed among the political elite in Japan; and whether or not ideological phenomena have an influence in a time of crisis. The contributors will present three different case studies into the debates surrounding bilateral and multilateral crises of diplomacy in the post-cold war era, each seeking to explore the prevalence and importance of abstract ideas in the decision-making process during times of conflict resolution. Each paper links a particular ideal phenomenon with a specific foreign-policy challenge and employs a novel methodological framework as part of the analytical process. During the Gulf crisis, Japan’s longstanding method of contribution to international matters came into question and initiated a debate into the degree and method of contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security under the Peace Constitution. In the context of this crisis, the first paper seeks to illustrate how the decision making was a struggle between expectations and capability, and on the abstract level the renegotiation of identity. The paper second explores the question of whether the Japanese political elite considered issues of “just war” in their debates concerning Japan’s participation in the Afghanistan war. The third paper examines the diet debates from 1990-2016 concerning the Senkaku islands and seeks to explore to what extent discourses surrounding national status and prestige are present in this context, and how they change over time. It also aims to explore how issues of prestige can hamper conflict resolution efforts.


Professor Hugo Dobson, School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield, [email protected]

Japan at a crossroad: The Gulf Crisis and its Aftermath: Expectations, Ideology and Change

Dorothy Pihaj, School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield, [email protected]

The first paper will examine the first milestone of Japanese contribution to maintain peace and security in the international community. The Gulf Crisis, and later on the War, posed as the first challenge to post-cold war Japan. The use of force against a nation was authorised by international law, and the United States demanded some measure of military contribution from Japan as well. However, the interpretation of the Japanese Constitution prohibited the deployment of military personnel outside of the national border. After two years of debate in the Diet and a new cabinet, in 1992 the International Peace Cooperation Law was enacted. This article will approach the question from social-constructivist perspective. Therefore, the primary focus is how the issue itself and the resolution were conceptualised among the political elite. Especially, how the process of managing this international crisis lead to the struggle between expectations and capability, and on the abstract level the renegotiation of identity. In order to uncover what kind ideological reasons were present during these debates, the research will utilise thematic analysis. This approach to discourse analysis is ideal for identifying the dominant themes by using qualitative and quantitative methods to study the emerging patterns in the data. This way the research can further strengthen or dispute our assumption that managing the crisis itself was closely linked with questions about Japan’s place in the post-cold war system, it’s obligation towards international peace and the identity enabling all of above mentioned.

Did Japan Make a Justified Decision when Participating in Afghanistan War? Answering the question by Elaborating Just War Theory

Minami Suzuki, Tohoku University, [email protected]

The second presentation will focus on answering this question; whether the Government of Japan (GOJ) made a legitimate decision to participate in the 2001 Afghanistan War (hereafter, Afghanistan War). Which marked the first time Japan participated in an international mission while military actions were still conducted. According to the UN Charter, it is necessary for all states to have the ‘right intention’ or ‘just cause’ to exercise the ‘right to individual or collective self-defence’ (see Article 51.) Therefore, to participate in international military operations, it is required from Japan to demonstrate the right intention and to have just cause. This article will examine whether the GOJ found the ‘right intention’ or ‘just cause’ to participate in Afghanistan War. To investigate the issue mentioned above, at first, the presentation will clarify what the right intention or just cause to participate in international military operations is. As international law comes from moral philosophy, the right intention or just cause will be identified from the viewpoint of moral philosophy, just war theory. Then, this presentation will move on to identify these phenomena in the political elites’ discourse to uncover whether the GOJ considered these elements when deciding to participate in Afghanistan War, or not. By answering these two questions the paper will conclude whether the GOJ made a legitimate decision to participate in the Afghanistan War.

For the honour of the nation: Conceptions of prestige in Japanese elite political discourse surrounding territorial disputes.

Kristian Magnus Hauken, University of Sheffield, [email protected]

This article seeks to examine how prestige is conceptualized in elite Japanese political discourse surrounding territorial conflicts in the East China Sea. Japan has long-standing territorial conflicts with both the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, South Korea and Russia, all of which intermittently reappear in both public and political discourses. This project is aimed at examining the prevalence and relative importance of conceptions of prestige in political discussions and debates surrounding these territorial issues. The main focus of the article will be on Japanese parliamentary discussions surrounding the Pinnacle islands, and to what extent discussion of national prestige is present and influences these debates. In order to do so, this project employs a quantitative lexical data-mining methodology to indicate prevalence of terms related to prestige, status, reputation etc. Following this, a critical discourse analytical component will take place, extracting illustrative examples of debate, and seeking to examine how prestige is conceptualised, and how these conceptions vary between temporal, social and political contexts. This project aims to contribute to the growing body of social-constructivist International Relations theory, as well as the study of Japanese political discourse through a critical theoretical framework.

A3: Trust and Regulation

Trust beyond safety. Official responses to food incidents in Japan

Tine Walravens, Ghent University, [email protected]

A series of food-related incidents at the turn of the century deeply eroded public trust in the regulatory framework ensuring food safety in Japan. Institutional changes followed, along with promotional and educational campaigns as the government set out to regain consumer confidence in the domestic food supply (MAFF 2001). Crises, such as the BSE incident, should be seen as inherent to the food system, and the management of them becomes an element of the system itself (Kjaernes, Harvey, & Warde 2007). However, despite being considered one of the defining factors of consumer confidence (De Jonge et al. 2008), institutional trust is often overlooked in studies on the management of these food safety crises in Japan, or approached from a consumer-based perspective. This presentation explores the trust dynamics in the government’s response to the BSE outbreak in 2001, the poisoned dumpling incident in 2008 and the radioactive contamination of the food supply after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Based on Peters (1997), Johnson (1999) and Maeda & Miyahara (2003), four analytical dimensions of trust in the regulatory authorities are defined: (1) openness and honesty, (2) care and concern, (3) competence and (4) consensual values. The analysis demonstrates that in any of the three cases, the image of competence is a major concern in the government’s response, whereas the factor of care and concern is entirely lacking. Furthermore, it is argued that, when trust is a priority, consensual values are strongly appealed at to convince the public about the safety of the food supply.

Japanese Lawyers and Social Movements

Adrienne Sala, Sciences Po Lyon, IAO, [email protected]

Many legal scholars pointed out that access to courts in Japan was constrained by several historical and institutional barriers to initiate litigation (e.g. a lack of lawyers, high fees, court delays, strict standing rules, unavailability of class actions, relative certainty of outcomes,
informal processes of conciliation and mediation) (e.g. Kawashima, 1967, Upham, 1987, Sanders, 1996). Although the percentage of lawyers in Japan is remarkably small in comparison to other advanced countries, the Japanese legal profession is also characterized by a large variety of quasi-lawyers (e.g. judicial scriveners, non-lawyer legal adviser, etc.) (Galanter, 2009). In 2000 due to the rising number of M&A and personal bankruptcies, the government passed a judicial and judiciary reform that increased the number of lawyers. Since the mid-2000s the legal profession also increased due to the Supreme Court decision, the so-called kabarai procedure (Ramseyer, 2013).
Since the 1950s and despite this unfriendly judiciary environment and its institutional context, several Japanese lawyers played a major role in public problem’s construction, collective actions and legal mobilization’s organization to defend the weak-interests (workers, consumers, inhabitants, etc.) and obtained significant legislative changes (e.g. Kitamura, Hirano, Noguchi, Kojima, Kakita, Kuwaki, 1959). Thus, our research questions are the following:
RQ1. How did Japanese lawyers manage to organize social movements and collective actions in a society depicted as having a low legal consciousness with a legal system that strongly used to discourage private suits (Kawashima, 1967)?
RQ2. Can we use the concept of “cause lawyering” to analyze Japanese lawyers (Sarat & Scheingold, 2004)?
RQ3. Does a rising legal and political representation of weak interests (workers, consumers, citizens, inhabitants) have an impact on the process of institutional change as well as its efficiency (Streeck & Thelen, 2005)?
These research questions raise several theoretical issues. First, scholars have pointed out the paradox of legal professionalism by analyzing the relationship between lawyers’ commercial aims, public aspirations and clients’ interest (Cummings, 2011, Sarat & Scheingold, 2001). Second, activist lawyers who aim at constructing a just society are also the source of tensions between other social actors (labor unions, local associations, victims and community, non-lawyer activists) (Upham, 1976; Henry, 2012). Paul Jobin (2006) highlighted in his study of the Minamata case, the critics addressed to lawyers and those who sue for pursuing their own ends ahead of the good of the community and other victims. Meili (2009) also pointed out the tensions between an individualistic rights-based discourse and a collective norms approach, underlying that legal mobilizations’ purpose is not only to protect individuals victims but also for the broader good. Third, lawyers’ activism relies on resources’ availability (political, financial, human) which also depends on the political context (Israël, 2009; Henry, 2012). Scheingold (2004) pointed out that cause lawyers do not privilege litigation over other forms of legal and social mobilization but depending on the political context, litigation has become the primary legal mobilization strategy. For instance in a neoliberal politico-economic context, lawyers would favor litigation over legal mobilization (legislative lobbying) as it is difficult to enact new laws that regulate the private sectors (Meili, 2006). The degree of availability of financial resources also influences the legal mobilization’s strategy (litigations’ fees represent a source of financial compensation for the victims). The choice to sue is also the result of a legal tactic as lawsuits, even if the lawyer failed in court, attract the public outcry and media attention (McCann, 2004, Sala, 2017). Although the Japanese legal system relied on the coercive capacity of courts due to a mutual trust that used to make compromise possible (e.g; Sanders, 1996; Trumbull, 2014), evolution of the Japanese legal profession interacts with other gradual institutional changes (Streeck & Thelen, 2005) that affect the post-war social compromise. This study aims at analyzing factors and consequences of institutional changes by focusing on evolution of the group of lawyers as well as the role of law in the Japanese society.

Continuity and Change in Japan's Ecosystem for Start-up Companies: Encouraging the Creation of Firms to Stimulate Economic Growth and Jobs

Marie Anchordoguy, University of Washington, [email protected]

Starting in the late 1990s Japanese state and business leaders overhauled laws and policies to encourage the creation of new firms, wealth, and jobs. Financial and labor reforms, changes in large firms and universities, and supportive state policies helped Japan build up a start-up ecosystem, with a legal framework that on paper looks quite similar to that of the U.S. today. However, despite dramatic reforms, several factors, including specific tax policies, legal ambiguities, personal guarantees, and social norms regarding risk-taking and quick wealth-making hinder the emergence of a more vibrant ecosystem. The primary actors pushing for reform are the government, entrepreneurs, the venture capital industry, and angels; big business and social norms are the major resistors. The result has been significant but slow and incremental change. Japan’s ecosystem has the fundamental ingredients to succeed, and though small compared to Silicon Valley, is comparable to that in Germany, France, and South Korea.

A4: Challenge, Change, and Tradition in an era of governance: the Transformation and Continuity in Politics and Policy in Japan, 1990–.

This panel aims to explore the response to the challenges emerging in politics and policy in Japan after the 1990s through highlighting specific examples. In so doing it reveals how Japan has responded to the challenges of governance in specific contexts and illuminates the nature of Japanese governance. In political arenas the country has confronted significant turning points including the 1994 political reform caused by the consecutive scandals in the 1980s and resulting political crisis, the decline of the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) as the single ruling party and the emergence of the LDP led Coalition Government involving small and niche parties including Komeito—a party of distinctive characteristics and history—, the transformation of public administration including the 1997 administrative reform and the successive set of measures strengthening the Prime Minister and her/his Office, and the transformation of foreign and security policy agenda including Abe's foreign political strategy towards China under the growing changes of Sino-Japanese economic interdependence. In particular, the panel illuminates the enduring impact of the established tradition and structures within politics and public policy and the emerging change of social and political factors, paying specific attention to the political development after the 2000s including the nature and implication of the controversial DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan) Administration and the LDP led Coalition Government after December 2012.

Political leadership and the role of bureaucrats in policy-making process: are obedient bureaucrats necessary?

Professor Hideaki Tanaka, Meiji University, [email protected]

Japanese politics and public administration have been dramatically changing since the turn of the century. They are reflected clearly in the policy-making process of the government. The objective of this presentation is to investigate the transformation of policy-making process in the last two decades by focusing on the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats. All in all such relationship was stable until 1990s, but it differs from government to government since the year 2001; in particular we observe distinct features of each of three governments, namely Koizumi’s reformist government, DPJ government and LDP-Komei coalition headed by Shinzo Abe. In short, political leadership is getting stronger through these governments. Political scientists had been criticizing weak governments, in particular weak prime ministers with a few exceptions like Nakasone and Koizumi, but a strong government and political leadership as expected by them was realized finally by the Abe administration. Is it really working and is it precisely what we expected? Have we departed from the traditional model which features a weak government and strong bureaucrats? I argue that the political neutrality of civil services has been significantly undermined while political leadership has been strengthened more than expected. This transformation has resulted in an outcome, in which the impaired quality of public policy-making disregard clear evidence and evaluation, and an administration in which the prime minister's office enjoys unusual discretionary approaches in adopting its policy projects at will with a national parliament as an agent rather than a principal, and could significantly undermine Japan's established polity as a democracy.

The strong core, impaired administration? The transformation of power and the regulatory state in Japan.

Dr Masahiro Mogaki, Keio University., [email protected]

This presentation, focusing on the state at a macro level heeding the concept of the core executive as a key analytical tool, questions the dominant pluralist and rational choice literature on Japanese politics by exploring the two case studies of regulation: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) regulation and antimonopoly regulation after the 1980s. In so doing, the presentation reveals the governance of Japan characterised by the continuous existence of a strong core with a fluid change of power within their community. This perspective is informed by a body of statist literature, which in turn is drawn from interviews of elites. What emerges from the study is a variation of state transformation with a fluid change of power within the core executive. This change can be understood as a dynamic reconstitutive process of the Japanese state in response to the challenges of governance both sector-specific and beyond. The reconstitution of the Japanese state has transformed its developmentally oriented characteristic and the role of government officials as the key strategist. The result was an unstable situation, in which now ruling party politicians as the key actor have taken over the role of the strategist. Elsewhere, by focusing on the state at a macro level, this presentation reveals the continuous dominance of the core executive. In conclusion, it argues that the Japanese state has retained dominance over society through its reconstitution, mobilised by the core executive, while also showing that within the core executive a fluid change of power has occurred between actors.

Change and Consistency in Security Policy: Opposition and Komeito Approaches.

Dr Anne Mette Fisker-Nielsen, Soka University, [email protected]

With the Peace and Security Legislation (2015) an increasingly polarized political discourse developed. The debates continue today, often buried under old feuding left-right domestic political groups battling for legitimacy with historical memory used to turn security questions into simplified moral choices. The security laws were not a drastic change in foreign policy but rather consolidated legislation implemented over the past 20 years (1). Many overlaps and commonalities exist between seemingly opposing political groups, a common ground that is obscured by ignoring in public debate the fundamental contradictions in Japan’s ‘pacifist’ position. Against a new security environment and increasing volatile geo-politics, the bifurcation of domestic political discourse into antagonism between so-called ‘pacifist’ and ‘nationalist’ positions is fragmenting politics often resulting in phantom debates rather than discussing specific ways forward to address a complex reality that have no easy answers. This presentation explores an alternative, a form of international activism rooted in a long history of a ‘reconciliation approach’ to geo-politics (2). Although mostly side-lined and portrayed as ‘compromising’ in a media-scape that tends to portray ‘politics of denouncement’ as the more progressive, I here consider the influence of Komeito in the realm of security, its long-standing involvement with constitutional debates, and increasing influence in international diplomacy in the region. Komeito’s emphasis on politics of direct engagement presents, not an unproblematic, but a different approach to politics over ‘politics of denouncement’.

(1) Fisker-Nielsen, Anne Mette Has Komeito Abandoned its Principles? Public Perception of the Party's Role in Japan's Security Legislation Debate
(2) Hashimoto, Akiko (2015) The Long Defeat: Cultural Trauma, Memory, and Identity in Japan. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The first and second Abe government: Responding to changes of economic interdependence between Japan and China.

Ms Franziska Schultz, Rikkyô University, [email protected]

When Abe Shinzô first became Japanese Prime Minister in 2006, he visited China and refrained from visiting Yasukuni Shrine during the tenure (2006–2007) to avoid diplomatic tensions. However, Abe visited the shrine in 2013, demonstrating his reluctance to pay special consideration to Japan’s relations to China. When he assumed office a second time (2012–2014), he visited over 50 countries during his second cabinet but China. How can we explain this change of Abe's mindset regarding his foreign political strategy towards China? This presentation argues that although Abe’s changed strategic mindset from 2012 can partly be explained by domestic political factors, it has been significantly influenced by changes in Japan’s foreign political environment transformed by China’s global rise entailing a change of economic interdependence between Japan and China to favor the latter. To support this claim, the presentation analyzes the changes in the Sino-Japanese political and economic framework during the two Abe cabinets from an International Relations perspective. It considers relevant policy statements and MOFA documents, drawing on theoretical findings regarding economic interdependence by Crescenzi (2008), Katz (2013) and Koo (2010). Japan’s economic importance for China has gradually declined until the mid-2000s, allowing the latter economic leverage over the former. Facing Xi Jinping's assertive foreign political stance from 2012, Abe needed to respond to secure diminishing voters’ support by expressing the goal to retrieve Japanese national pride and visiting the shrine. Additionally, he made efforts to establish closer security relations with other countries to counterbalance China.

A5: Crisis and Continuity in the Mekong Basin: Intra-regional and Inter-regional Dynamism, Regional and Extra-Regional Conflict

This panel aims to examine crisis and continuity in Japan’s relations with the sub-region of the Mekong River Basin Countries (MRBCs)/Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). Comprised of five countries (Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) and one sub-national region (China’s Yunnan province), what was formerly referred to as “land Southeast Asia” (as opposed to “maritime Southeast Asia”) is a key priority for Japan’s foreign economic relations and its broader regional strategy. This panel will bring together scholars who can assume one of the Mekong case studies, examine Japan’s separate bilateral relations with each, in addition to collectively as part of the Mekong/GMS project. With this combined bilateral and sub-regional perspective, multiple often under-explored areas of Japan’s international relations and politico-economy can also become interrogated. For example, intra-regional transnational relations, multi-dimensional economic power, and a multi-tiered view of regionalism that moves up from sub-national, to micro-regional, to sub-regional, to regional, to inter-regional relations. Given the rapid changes occurring in each of the Mekong countries coupled with the rise of China on the sub-region’s northern doorstep, Japan’s slow and steady aim of binding together the region with itself and with ASEAN is now facing challenges from below and from above that have the potential to cause a great deal of regional tension if not understood or handled properly. The panel brings together both academics and policy professionals, in addition to local actors intimately aware of the issues involved.

The Special Relationship Revisited: Thailand-Japan Relations in the Era of a Mekong Development Boom

Maki Okabe, JETRO: Institute of Developing Economies, [email protected]

As the second biggest export market and the largest direct investor in the electronics and automobile industries in Thailand, Japan in the post WWII era has maintained a significant economic presence in Thailand. It is especially remarkable that the two countries have been integrated through the international production network of manufacturers that developed through the late 1980s, and relatedly, this network in the 1990s primed and supported broader regional integration such as the ASEAN Free Trade Area. Similarly, Thailand and Japan have maintained a special political relationship. Official Development Assistance (ODA) from Japan represents almost 80% of total ODA that Thailand received up to 2001, and the two countries have also shared a developmental assistance vision for the Indochinese countries since the 1990s. However, the recent rise of China in the Mekong basin region development sways Japan’s confidence in her historic and special relation with Thailand. The presentation will interrogate how the Japanese government reacted to China’s Mekong development strategy and redefined its own policy towards the Mekong by examining the initiatives such as Japan-Mekong Cooperation, in addition to reactions in Thailand and Japan to the Cambodia-Lao-Vietnam Development Triangle (CLV-DTA), and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) project. It is often pointed out that there is “competition” between China and Japan (and Thailand) over Mekong basin development. The presentation aims to clarify who is competing, from when, and for what.

Myanmar as the Western ‘Wall’ of the Mekong: Japan’s Most Important New Opportunity in Southeast Asia​

Ryan Hartley, Tohoku University, [email protected]

This paper examines one of Japan's most important up-and-coming international relationships in East Asia - Burma/Myanmar. Released from years of balancing between a sustained interest in Myanmar that reaches back into inter-colonial UK/Japan competition, and a Cold War period of frequent criticism at Japan’s engagement with Burma’s military regime, Myanmar’s current ‘coming in from the cold’ with the acceptance of democratisation and the eventual election of Aung San Syu Kyi heralds a chance for Japan to engage with Myanmar as it would always have liked to it; and re-engage Japan certainly has done. In 2013, total Japanese ODA to Myanmar jumped from $93 million in 2012 to $5.3 billion; just a little under the combined ODA provided to all of Myanmar’s neighbours - Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos - for the entire period of 1995-2014. For the combined purpose of forgiving Myanmar’s huge debts (thereby allowing for Bretton Woods integration) and integrating Myanmar into Mekong-wide economic corridors (East-West/South-South connectivity; Thailand Plus One production chains; Thilawa and Dawei SEZs), Japan is playing a leading role in supporting a liberal world order for Myanmar to orient towards. However crises linger. A rising China, internal security issues in northern Myanmar, human rights abuses against the Rohingya, and the lingering political role of Myanmar’s military, mean that Myanmar’s future as the next “democracy on the Mekong” is unlikely. This presentation seeks to explore this ‘final piece of the puzzle’ where Japan’s plans for Mekong connectivity and integration can now take full flight.

Engineered Solutions: Half a Century of Japan’s Governmental Aid to Laos in the Water Resources Sector

David JH Blake, University of York, [email protected]

Japan has been considered an important nation in the Mekong Basin’s water resources development sector over many decades, forming a core component of what can be viewed as a wider regional economic and geo-political strategy. Its activities and policies have, perhaps, been less well scrutinised and publicised than that of other Western nation bilateral actors or the multilateral development banks, in particular the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, although it has an active civil society monitoring flows of aid and investment. This paper critically examines Japan’s role in Laos’ water sector over the past 50 years since the Nam Ngum dam was constructed, with reference to several pertinent case studies that highlight how Japanese ODA and FDI has been utilised, paying special attention to the key institutions involved. It argues that, despite an apparent decline in funding to the sector during recent years as other East Asian states have emerged as investment powerhouses, Japan continues to play a quiet but influential role in driving socio-ecological transformations via infrastructural engineering projects that often foment various types and intensities of conflict at the sub-national and intra-regional levels, not always readily visible to external observers.

Cambodia, Japan, and China in the Mekong: A Nexus Point of Regional Competition

Sophal Ear, University of California Berkley, [email protected]

At Cold War’s end, Cambodia became a new project for Japan. Breaking from its usual pattern of economic-based international relations, Japan assumed an unusually political, and multilateral, role in Cambodia in the 1990s. In addition to its economic mission for Japan, Inc. helping to resolve the “Kampuchea Problem” would necessitate hands-on tinkering in politics. Japan has continued to have a strong relationship with Cambodia ever since, and regards the country’s geographical centrality in the Mekong region as crucial for sub-regional integration, particularly in roads. Increasingly, however, China’s influence in Cambodia has grown by orders of magnitude much to the chagrin of Japan. China’s elites are widely known to be influential in Cambodia, and the country often acts as China’s proxy in ASEAN and the Mekong region on the South China Sea, an in emulating China. As a result, competition between China and Japan within Cambodia is inevitable. This presentation will chart the crisis and continuity in the Japan-Cambodia relationship, with particular reference to the role of an actively interventionist China. It will also evaluate the challenge this presents for Mekong and ASEAN regionalisation going forward.

A6: Transnational cooperation and Japan's standing in the world

Analysis of Prime Minister Abe’s statements about Japan’s foreign policy in the relations with the US and China

Tatsuro Debroux, Pompeu Fabra University, [email protected]

The paper shows the result of the research on the second Abe administration (2012-2016)’s foreign policy, focusing on the relations with the US and Chinese political leaders. Role theory is used as a theoretical framework. It focuses on national role conceptions (NRC), defined as intersubjectively shared and value-driven expectations about the appropriate roles of a state in the world. Then, the administration’s role location, role conflicts, consistency and inconsistency between Japan’s NRCs and the US and China representing the expectation and proscription toward Japan can be analyzed. In this paper, the political leaders’ statements (speeches, interviews and remarks at the press) are interpreted. Four main Japan’s roles are found through literature review: 1. A reliable security partner, 2. A country that puts emphasis on multilateralism, 3. A non-military pacifist country, and 4. A world/regional leader. Statements are classified along with these four roles. It is argued that Prime Minister Abe’s foreign policy indicates a substantial role shift from the past reluctant approaches in international security toward Japan’s self-perception of being pivotal in the region and the beyond. Abe perceives the environment surrounding Japan is becoming severe. Therefore, Abe aims to put more emphasis on the defense of democratic values and free trade, resulting in the security cooperation with like-minded countries, particularly the US. While taking balance with traditional non-military pacifism, Abe seems to succeed in achieving these. The paper interprets the (in)consistency between the Abe administration and the US and China.

Conflated Crises on the Korean Peninsula as a Catalyst for Restoring Japan’s Standing

Ra Mason, University of East Anglia, [email protected]

Japan’s post-Cold War state, market and societal-led responses to North Korea represent an illustrative example of how the construction of a supposedly ongoing crisis has been effectively undertaken to justify the recalibration of risks – and a reconfiguring of security policy. This paper makes use of the concepts of crises developed by Colin Hay to critically examines discourses from the Japanese Diet pertaining to North Korean affairs. It thereby elucidates how the abduction of Japanese citizens, missile testing and nuclear proliferation have been conflated to frame the DPRK as an entity amounting in itself to a multifaceted crisis. The discussion exposes the discursive process by which this conflated crisis on the Korean Peninsula is inflated and appropriated to depict an increasingly vulnerable Japan whose defence capabilities – relative to those of its regional rivals – are seen to be in decline. Specifically, it spotlights how the combination of these three issues has shifted the socio-political goalposts over time to the point where few among Japan’s leading lawmakers dare risk personal or party political capital by contesting the concept of a declining Japanese security capability in the face of new and dynamic threats posed from Pyongyang and beyond. In juxtaposition to this, it is argued that in fact Japan’s relative military capabilities have not declined in comparison to those of North Korea or most other regional powers. Rather, the shift in political and social perceptions of a worsening security environment – symbolised by the Kim dynasty’s hostile intensions and capabilities – has allowed Japan to further outstrip and encircle (primarily via integration with US forces) the DPRK and develop one of the world’s most expensive and powerful military forces.

Social Norms Die Hard: Why Japan Resisted Financial Globalisation

Fumihito Gotoh, University of Warwick, [email protected]

Since the 1990s, Japanese society has felt a growing sense of crisis regarding its relative economic decline, particularly vis-à-vis China. I argue China has taken advantage of financial globalisation (i.e., American financial hegemony promoting capital markets and international capital mobility), while Japan has resisted it.  But why has Japan resisted the convergence to an American-style capital market-based model despite a costly toll? I contend anti-liberal, anti-free market norms of Japanese society centred on ‘systemic support’ have bolstered resistance to convergence in order to prevent capitalist dominance from severing long-term social ties, such as management-labour cooperation. My broadened definition of systemic support incorporates dominant elites’ support and protection of subordinates in exchange for their loyalty and obedience. This paper will explore reasons for the resistance to convergence by examining an ideational conflict within Japanese elites between the market liberalisation and anti-free market camps, particularly that between two major industrial associations, Keidanren and Keizai Doyukai, which have played a key role as ideational platforms for Japanese corporate society. Under the Hashimoto (1996-8) and Koizumi (2001-6) administrations, the former camp gained influence, but since 2006, both the latter camp and subordinates (e.g., regular workers and small business owners) have driven an anti-neoliberal backlash.

Value for Power: Examination of Japan’s Intentions and Tactics in its Security Cooperation with the EU since 2001

Weijing Xing, Freie Universität Berlin, [email protected]

Since the end of the Cold War, the EU and Japan have been engaging in greater cooperation in many fields. After a long and stable period of cooperation focusing mainly on economics and trade, both parties’ activities related to security cooperation have been especially frequent in recent years. Some people may argue that the security cooperation with the EU is just a reasonable behavior under Japan’s new security diplomacy, together with its initiatives to cooperate with other new partners such as Australia, India, New Zealand and so on. However, it should be noticed that compared to the cooperation with those new partners, Japan’s security cooperation with the EU “has long been overlooked”. After a long period of relations mainly characterized by economics and trade cooperation, why and how is Japan trying to enhance cooperation on security issues with the EU? To fill the current research gap in study on Japan-EU relations, using two approaches built on Neoclassical Realism as tentative theoretical framework; this research analyzes the roles of value and power to understand Japan’s intentions and tactics in pushing its security cooperation with the EU since 2001.

A7: Major Effects of Minor Changes: the Decision-Making Process under the Second Abe Administration

Since the institutional reforms have been implemented at the end of the 1990s in order to reinforce the prime minister’s leadership over political actors, observers’ analyses have often oscillated between the idea that the decision-making process (DMP) in Japanese politics has known drastic changes and the idea that no profound evolution has occurred. Although the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) attempted to introduce a more centralised DMP by several institutional reforms sometimes advocated for more than ten years, it spectacularly failed. Nevertheless, the second Abe administration is characterised by a strong top-down leadership (i.e. Kantei politics), which resulted in the adoption of sweeping reforms, despite the absence of any major modification in the institutional rules. This panel aims at resolving this apparent paradox that seems to invalidate many political science analyses regarding institutional change. In order to do so, it will examine the relations between the Kantei and the traditional veto players such as the bureaucrats and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) backbenchers. Papers will explain how Abe administration has managed to create a system in which it can subdue these veto players without antagonizing them excessively. They will also illustrate these new dynamics of DMP with case studies dealing both with domestic and foreign policies. Ultimately, this panel’s larger goal is to reassess the common understanding we have on leadership and institutional change in Japanese politics for these last two decades.

New Dynamics of Decision-Making Process in the LDP under the Second Abe Administration

Karol Zakowski, University of Lodz, [email protected]

The paper will analyze the evolution of decision-making practices in the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) since the formation of the second Abe administration in December 2012. It is argued that while no significant changes in the functioning of LDP decision-making bodies were implemented, the prime minister used an array of strategies to gradually redefine the roles played by the pre-existing institutions. While respecting two-track nature of decision-making and prior screening of all bill projects, Abe partially relocated the proceedings in the LDP on the most important decisions from individual policy divisions (bukai) to the bodies under LDP president’s direct control established according to the Article 79 of party rules, such as inter-sectional, topic-specific headquarters (honbu) or research commissions (chōsakai). Thanks to this change, he gained better supervision over intra-party decision-making at the expense of “parliamentary tribes” (zoku giin). New bodies in the LDP, such as the Security Laws Revision Promotion Headquarters (Anzen Hoshō Hōsei Seibi Suishin Honbu), covered all crucial tasks of the Abe administration. Relying on primary and secondary sources, the paper will examine the strategies employed by Abe to direct discussion in intra-party bodies and gain LDP’s approval for governmental policies.

Political Power Interventionism in Bureaucrats’ Appointments under the Second Abe Administration

Arnaud Grivaud, INALCO/Paris Diderot University (CRCAO), [email protected]

As an attempt to strengthen their control on the bureaucracy, Japanese politicians have tried, for the past 20 years, to reinforce their influence over ministries’ human resources management, which is still considered to be very autonomous with strict unwritten rules. Since his return to power in December 2012, Abe Shinzō has been more involved in bureaucrat appointments and has broken more habits in this field than any prime minister before. Based on primary and secondary sources, this paper aims at explaining to what extent these interventions of Abe administration constitute a new phenomenon, and will also explore the factors that made these changes possible, and define their consequences on ministries. We argue that while showing an obvious voluntarism and using the new institutional tools they introduced in May 2014 (namely the Cabinet Human Resources Bureau), Abe and his team have been careful not to excessively antagonize the bureaucrats by implementing incremental changes. Far from keeping them away from the ‘core executive’, Abe skilfully uses the bureaucrats in his entourage as a political resource (unlike the DPJ administrations before) by relying on them as intermediaries with the ministries. To conclude, we find that bureaucrat appointments are still the result of thorny negotiations with the ministries, where politicians’ room for manoeuvre depends as much on their ability to mobilise alternative resources as on the institutional framework. Despite a certain politicisation of such appointments, we consider that it would be overstated to see a revolution that could lead to a Japanese-style spoils system.

TPP Negotiations under the Second Abe Cabinet: Strategies and Methods of Kantei vs the Veto Players

Beata Bochorodycz, Adam Mickiewicz University, [email protected]

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was strongly contested over a long period by various groups in Japan, to be finally ratified by the Japanese parliament in November 2016. With the election, in the same month, of a new American President, Donald Trump, openly opposing the agreement, the prospect of its actual implementation has become dim. Nevertheless, the negotiation process itself deserves attention for several reasons. First, it allows an analysis of the mechanism of the decision making process on foreign policy (TPP) in Japan, which was pushed for predominantly by the external factors (sometimes refereed as gaiatsu in Japanese), including the US government’s pressure, and strongly opposed by variety of domestic groups. Second, the case allows for the assessment of the so-called Kantei politics – politics led by prime minister and his closest entourage, under the Second Abe Shinzō administration. Following the neoclassical realist tradition, the paper argues that the domestic factors, and especially the Kantei, played the decisive role in shaping the final outcome of the policy (TPP), while the foreign pressure played the role of the initial stimuli. The paper will focus on the strategies and methods employed by Prime Minister Abe during the negotiations process vis-à-vis the main veto players (bureaucrats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, etc.), the Liberal Democratic Party zoku and other influential party members, opposition parties, interest groups (e.g. agriculture cooperatives, etc.) – which led to a successful adoption of the TPP policy.