Trade and Globalisation


Economic Diplomacy in Japanese Foreign Policy

14 Mar 2018 - 11:59
Source: European Council President

Senior Research Fellow Maaike Okano-Heijmans presents a rough sketch of the trajectory of Japan’s economic diplomacy, with a particular focus on the 2010s in chapter 16 of the commercially published Routledge Handbook of Japanese Foreign Policy. In recent years, economic diplomacy gained sway as a concept in Japanese government circles, not least the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is increasingly perceived in zero-sum terms—a trend that is unlikely to subside as long as Prime Minister Abe is in power.

Japan’s economic diplomacy is evolving in new directions, coming to involve a greater element of geo-strategic power play and a limited degree of securitisation. It aims to spur change in domestic and multilateral environs, including domestic economic reform (especially in the agricultural sector); financial and economic governance in the East Asian region and beyond; and new rules and standards governing international economic interaction. Security-related technology plays an increasingly large role herein, including by way of sales promotion of military and aerospace technology, and the inclusion of military elements (patrol vessels) in development assistance to Southeast Asian nations.

Japanese policymakers should therefore recognise with pride, and a bit of concern, the fact that neighbouring countries, including China, regularly turn to Japan’s economic diplomacy practice—today and of old—to inform their own policies.

About the book

From a nuclear North Korea and territorial disputes in the East China Sea, to global climate change and Asia-Pacific free trade agreements, Japan is at the centre of some of the most challenging issues that the world faces today. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, comprising contributions from the fields of politics, sociology, history, and gender studies, this handbook creates a comprehensive and innovative overview of the field, investigating the widening variety of interests, sometimes competing, that constitute Japanese foreign policy.

Organised topically, it is divided into sections, including: Japan’s evolving foreign policy landscape; Global environmental and sustainable development; International and national security; International political economy; International norms and civil society.