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date: 28 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Japan’s foreign economic policies have changed dramatically in the 2010s: rebalancing of core policies (trade, investment, economic assistance); geographical redirection of trade and investment flows; greater activism in seeking out a voice in global economic governance; and departure from an exclusive focus on multilateralism to advance trade liberalization and financial crisis management through regional and bilateral forums. This chapter assesses the drivers of Japan’s foreign economic policy activism as well as the obstacles that have produced a checkered record in terms of implementation. By combining explanations at the systemic, societal, and state level, this analysis elucidates conditions that facilitate policy departures in Japan’s economic diplomacy: international crises that threaten core Japanese interests, and disenchantment with the performance of existing international institutions; a strong domestic advocate that welcomes the policy departure; and streamlined decision-making involving a single ministry that can handle the issue in a technocratic manner.

Keywords: Japan, foreign economic policy, activism, trade agreements, development assistance, financial crisis management, foreign direct investment

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