AAS Annual Meeting

Japan Session 74

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Session 74: The EU-Japan Action Plan and After: Prospects for Geopolitical and Economic Cooperation

Organizer and Chair: Marie Soderberg, European Institute of Japanese Studies, Sweden

Discussant: Akihiro Ogawa, University of Melbourne, Australia

This panel investigates the prospects for cooperation between Europe and Japan in international politics, education, economic diplomacy and business. It reconsiders the European-Japanese link, which is perceived to be weak in Japanese studies scholarship compared with the bilateral relationship between Japan and US. The scholars in this panel explain why the link between Japan and Europe has been so weak not only in academic scholarship but also in reality, why there is not more cooperation and what needs to be done to rectify this situation. The panel will give a European perspective on Japanese politics and economics that will deepen the understanding of the current changes in Japan. It will specifically look at the EU-Japan policy making and looks at prospects for individual member countries to affect the EU’s policy toward Japan. The EU-Japan trade partnership and horizontal linkages between companies and how these can act as effective forces to move beyond the old, sticky issues in economic and trade (including business and FDI) will be highlighted. Finally we will explore how lifelong learning, an idea originally invented and practiced in Europe, has been understood and developed in Japan. Our panel brings in a multidisciplinary approach. Combing macro-level analyses with detailed case studies from Europe and Japan, the panel aims to generate a novel understanding of the relationship and where it is heading. The panel features Europe-based social scientists from the European Japan Advanced Research Network (EJARN) a scholarly network of senior European scholars working on Japan.

What is the value-added? Prospects of the EU-Japan relations during and after Hungary's EU presidency
Norbert Palanovics, Independent Scholar, Japan

The Hungarian government will be a major player in EU’s provisions in the first half of 2011. The EU presidency of Hungary will most likely coincide with the signing of a new document, some sort of revised version of the Action Plan for EU-Japan Cooperation, which will be significantly important for the EU-Japan affairs as the course of their relations could be shaped for the following decade. Although 2010 is labeled as the “year of renewal” between Japan and the EU, there was not too much substance to be seen in the deliverables of the Japan-EU Summit that was held in Tokyo in late April 2010. Nevertheless, the newly established High-Level Group could give a positive momentum to the EU-Japan relations and to the discussions involving the new Action Plan or the prospects of an EU-Japan economic partnership agreement. In this context, and with the impact of the Treaty of Lisbon shrinking the role of EU-president member states, especially in the area of EU’s foreign policy, can the Hungarian presidency have an impact on the EU-Japan cooperation framework and on the EU-Japan relations in general? If so, what impact? Most importantly, where will the EU-Japan relations be in the first half of 2011 and beyond? This paper is seeking answers to the above questions.

The Lisbon Treaty Effect: Toward a New EU-Japan Economic and Trade Partnership
Patricia A. Nelson, University of Denver, USA

The Lisbon Treaty, which went into force on 1 December 2009, signaled that the European Parliament had become a central actor in the EU-Japan economic and trade partnership (c.f. Woolcock, 2008). Shifting from relying on the Common Commercial Policy and various bilateral trade arrangements to a single EU position could bring positive outcomes to all including Japan with which the EU has a number of sticky economic and trade issues ranging from mutual recognition/harmonization in clinical trials to the expansion of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the creation of regulatory transparency. Moving forward on these old, sticky issues is essential to avoid escalation, which due to lack of progress could lead to full-blown trade disputes. In this paper, I argue that identification of parties who share similar interests, but are not bounded by national (or regional) borders, could strengthen this new EU-Japan economic and trade partnership. Companies in particular share horizontal linkages, which may be of great importance to the future growth of both the EU and Japan. I contend that both governments and companies (and perhaps other interested parties) can act as effective forces in an effort to move beyond the old, sticky issues in EU-Japan economic and trade (including business and FDI) relations. This argument is supported by several cases that are analyzed briefly in the paper.

Lifelong Learning in Japan: Its Tradition and New Knowledge Production
Akihiro Ogawa, University of Melbourne, Australia

This paper explores how lifelong learning, an idea originally invented and practiced in Europe, has been understood and developed in Japan. The idea itself was introduced to Japan in the early 1970s. However, combined with the indigenous practices of so-called social education (shakai kyoiku), it has uniquely grown and flourished at the grassroots level over the post World War II period. Nowadays, meanwhile, lifelong learning has risen to a top priority in Japan’s policy agenda. Its heightened importance became evident in December 2006, when the term shōgai gakushū was added to the Fundamental Law of Education—Japan’s educational charter. This paper primarily argues the recent policy efforts of lifelong learning to mobilize people for supporting the New Public Commons (atarashi kokyo), a political agenda currently advocated by the DPJ government. The social imaginary involves an attempt to redefine the boundaries of moral responsibility between the state and the individual, with greater emphasis being placed upon the virtues of self-regulation. Based on current fieldwork findings, this paper presents how people are responding to the policy efforts, particularly focusing on a local “community school” movement promoted under the framework of lifelong learning.