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Japan's New Economic Diplomacy: Changing Tactics or Strategy?

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Japan's economic diplomacy has evolved significantly since the 1990s in response to the reconfiguration of regional and global power. This article places developments along a conceptual continuum and finds that, slowly but steadily, Japanese policies shift from an emphasis on commercial goals of economic diplomacy to include also a more outspoken element of power play. While tourism promotion may be considered a new part of economic diplomacy, long-time practices of trade and investment promotion, business advocacy, and development cooperation are revamped with a focus on the environmental and energy fields. The negotiation of trade agreements, which for long was highjacked by domestic politics, was given new impetus in 2010, while financial diplomacy—which seemed promising in the early 2000s—stalled. Finally, negative sanctioning is no longer a taboo, particularly in the relationship with North Korea. The appetite of the government and private sector to conform with Western countries remains limited, however, and the ambiguity between the old and the new suggests that we are witnessing a change in Japanese tactics rather than in strategy.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2012

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