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Socio-cultural cooperation in Asia-Pacific region


Leader Toru Oga (Faculty of Law, Kyushu University)
Researcher Junko Ueda(Faculty of Law, Kyushu University), Hitoshi Matsui (Faculty of Law, Kyushu University), Lee, Hong Pyo (Faculty of Law, Kyushu University), Konari Uchida (Faculty of Economics, Kyushu University) Edward Vickers(Faculty of Human-Environment Studies, Kyushu University), Roger Smith (Faculty of Language and Culture), Satoko Seino (Faculty of Engineering, Kyushu University)
Term April 2015 – March 2016
Research Outline

The aim of this research is to uncover the dynamics of socio-cultural cooperation in the East Asia and Asia-Pacific regions, and to evaluate the impact of socio-cultural cooperation on regional integration. This study regards socio-cultural cooperation as including human security, human rights, environmental protection, education, civil society, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). ASEAN Vision 2020, which the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted in 1997, proposes three types of regional community-building: addressing the security community, economic community, and socio-cultural community. This study also uses this framework, but focuses on regional cooperation in socio-cultural fields. It therefore explores the dynamics of regional cooperation in socio-cultural communities, and how socio-cultural cooperation influences security and economic community-building. This study addresses socio-cultural cooperation in ASEAN, ASEAN+3, the East Asia Summit, APEC, and TPP, as well as in any policy fields involving transnational civil societies, and especially Japan, China, Korea, and the United States. In terms of methodology, the research addresses a number of policy areas, such as human security, human rights, environmental protection, education, civil society, and CSR, involving particular actors such as regional organizations, states, multinational corporations, and civil society organizations.


Leader Toru Oga (Faculty of Law, Kyushu University)
Researcher Junko Ueda(Faculty of Law, Kyushu University), Hitoshi Matsui (Faculty of Law, Kyushu University), Lee, Hong Pyo (Faculty of Law, Kyushu University), Konari Uchida (Faculty of Economics, Kyushu University) Edward Vickers(Faculty of Human-Environment Studies, Kyushu University), Roger Smith (Faculty of Language and Culture), Satoko Seino (Faculty of Engineering, Kyushu University)
Term April 2015 – March 2016
Achievements Outline

For the 2015 academic year, the research aim was to examine the dynamics of socio-economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region. The issues included human security, human rights, the environment, culture, education, civil society, and corporate social responsibility, with a particular focus on the roles and functions of Japan-U.S. relations in each of the themes. In September 2015 we hosted a session entitled "Japan's Asia Policy and the U.S. Rebalancing: Challenges and Opportunities." The session focused on security cooperation, human security, and Asian cultural diplomacy. For February 2016 we organized the session, "Environment and Energy Policies in East Asia," which focused on the environmental and energy policies in Japan, China, and Southeast Asia.

Activity Contents

During USJI Week in 2015, we organized the session, "Japan's Asia Policy and the U.S. Rebalancing: Challenges and Opportunities" (Monday, September 14, 2015, 1030–1230). The moderator, Professor Paula Harrell of Georgetown University, provided a general overview of Japan-China relations in recent years. Dr. Toru Oga of Kyushu University presented a paper about Japan’s foreign policy perceptions toward China and the United States, while Dr. Kuniko Ashizawa of American University presented a paper on Japan's foreign policy in Central Asia. Next, Dr. Jeffrey Hornung of Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, in his role as a discussant, gave comments about the changes in the actual security policy and perception among Japan's policy makers. Another discussant, Prof. Miwa, offered remarks on historical backgrounds. Finally, questions were answered on the relation between security and economic policy, and on future developments in foreign and security policy.

For USJI Week in 2016 we organized the session, "Environment and Energy Policies in East Asia" (Thursday, February 25, 2016, 1000–1200). Moderator Dr. Toru Oga of Kyushu University opened the session by explaining the panel’s purpose to analyze environment and energy policies in East Asia by focusing on the cases on Japan, China, and Southeast Asia, and to examine the significance of East Asian environment and energy problems. In the paper presentations, Dr. Tomoaki Watanabe of Kyushu University examined themes of Japan's environmental policies from the historical background of pollution and financial policies in Post-War Japan (particularly during the 1960s and 1970s). Dr. Nobuhiro Horii of Kyushu University analyzed the structural changes of the energy industry in China. Mr. Masaki Takahashi, a senior engineer of the World Bank, examined energy policies in Southeast Asia. As a commentator, Mr. David Livingston of Carnegie’s Energy and Climate Program suggested that to ensure a secure, affordable, and sustainable energy supply, we need to increase the share and efficiency of solar energy. For this end, legal frameworks and cost management are essential.

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Policy Paper

Leader Toru Oga (Faculty of Law, Kyushu University)
Researcher Junko Ueda(Faculty of Law, Kyushu University), Hitoshi Matsui (Faculty of Law, Kyushu University), Lee, Hong Pyo (Faculty of Law, Kyushu University), Konari Uchida (Faculty of Economics, Kyushu University) Edward Vickers(Faculty of Human-Environment Studies, Kyushu University), Roger Smith (Faculty of Language and Culture), Satoko Seino (Faculty of Engineering, Kyushu University)
Term April 2015 – March 2016
Title Socio-cultural cooperation in Asia-Pacific region: The role of U.S.-Japan Relation in the region.


For the academic year of 2015, our research project focuses on socio-cultural cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region as well as conventional foreign relations. Thus, we focus on (1) U.S.-Japan relations, (2) Japan’s commitments to Central Asia, and (3) China and Southeast Asia. For detailed policy focus, (1) focuses on political and security relations, (2) on economic relations, and (3) on environmental and energy cooperation. The aim of the research is to examine U.S.-Japan relations and Japan’s Asia policy as well as how Japan and the U.S. have contributed to a stable regional order.


  1. U.S.-Japan Relations

Since the late 1990s, Japan has followed the rebalancing strategy of the U.S. and has also tried to strengthen American-Japanese security relations and defense capabilities. However, a recognition gap between Japan and the U.S. existed during the 1990s. The U.S. published strategic reports of East Asian security initiatives in 1990, 1992, and 1995; the final one, known as Nye report, stressed the U.S. presence and the significance of the Japan-U.S. security alliance in the Asia-Pacific.

In Japan, the Advisory Group on Defense Issues published “The Modality of Security and Defense Capability of Japan,” commonly known as the Higuchi report. The report described the changing nature of the security environment of the post-Cold War era, and it prioritized multilateral security, confidence building, and international cooperation for arms control. Published prior to the Japan-U.S. security partnership, this report’s emphasis on multilateral security cooperation raised concerns that Japan would neglect a security relationship with the United States. The aforementioned Nye report reflected those concerns, emphasizing Japan-U.S. security relations and the importance of the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

From the Armitage report of 2000 onwards, U.S. demands on Japan had clearly changed. The Armitage report focused on the changing nature of the security environment and continuously emphasized the significance of the Japan-U.S. security alliance. The second Armitage report of 2007 positively evaluated Japan’s peacekeeping operations and its disaster and humanitarian relief deployments, while at the same time indirectly complaining that Japan should carry a more equal and adequate portion of the defense burden necessary to maintain the alliance. The third Armitage report of 2012 expected Japan to ensure regional stability and to secure sea lanes. The report also demanded that Japan resolve its historical issues and initiate regular dialogues with other regional allies.

In response to the U.S. demands for burden shifting, Japan has prepared legislation to authorize the right to exercise collective self-defense. On May 2014, the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security published a report that argued that the security environment surrounding Japan had dramatically changed, and that this has necessitated serious reconsideration of Japan’s security policy toward the maintenance and building of peace in the international community.

On July 1, 2014, the Abe administration authorized collective self-defense. According to the Cabinet decision, the security environment surrounding Japan has fundamentally transformed and is continuing to evolve, and complex and significant national security challenges are confronting Japan. The Cabinet decision clearly states that no country can secure its own peace by itself, and the international community also expects Japan to play a more proactive role commensurate with its national capabilities in achieving peace and stability in the world.

In May 2015, Japan’s Legislation for Peace and Security precipitated discussions about improved security. The legislation includes the revision of existing laws and the creation of new laws such as the Law to Ensure Security for Situations that Will Have an Important Influence on Japan’s Peace and Security, the International Peace Support Law, the Law Concerning Cooperation for U.N. PKO and Other Operations, the Ship Inspection Operations Law, the Japan Self-Defense Force Law, and the Legislation regarding Response to Armed Attack Situations. All these pieces of legislation have in common the understanding that the use of force should be carried out while observing international law. In certain situations, this is based on the right of collective self-defense under international law.

In summary, changes in the region’s security environment have justified Japan authorizing collective self-defense, and the Armitage report details many of the reasons. Japan’s new legislation is necessary in order to respond to the U.S. demands for burden sharing or even burden shifting. Japan must cooperate with the U.S. in monitoring and stabilizing the regional security architecture to lessen the onus on the U.S. and rebalance the countries’ ongoing political relationship. On the other hand, Japan–China relations have been strained over five specific issues: historical representations, the East China Sea, Taiwan, trilateral cooperation, and the China threat. The U.S. rebalancing strategy has also influenced these problems. The U.S. and Japan’s collective self-defense approach may help counter the challenges of the East China Sea and the China threat. However, if the U.S. attempts to decrease its security cost and presence, Japan’s security arrangements may be insufficient to stabilize the region, as China is highly active in the East and South China Seas.


  1. Japan’s Commitments to Central Asia

Central Asia, viewed as distant Asia from the vantage point of Tokyo, has, over the past two decades, quietly but steadily increased its weight in Japanese foreign policymaking. From time to time, Japanese leaders and foreign policy officials have designated this sub-region of Asia as a “new horizon” for their country’s pursuit of strategic, political, and economic interests at both global and regional levels. The Japanese government’s attempt to increase diplomatic involvement in this region was first publicly articulated by then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s “Eurasian Diplomacy” speech in 1997, and then manifested in its initiative in 2004 to introduce a unique intergovernmental framework, termed “Central Asia plus Japan,” with five Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Japan’s major engagement in the fourteen-year-long Afghan stabilization and reconstruction program, in which the country has become the second largest donor after the United States, also raised the profile of Central Asia—a region most susceptible to developments in Afghanistan—in Tokyo’s foreign policy thinking.

From 1994 to 2012, Japan provided close to USD three billion to Central Asia in the form of bilateral and multilateral official development assistance (ODA) averaging USD 150 million a year. Although by no means a dominant donor, it has usually been ranked within the five largest ODA donors for individual Central Asian countries. Despite the decade-long downward trend in its ODA budget that began in 2000, there has been an effort to increase Japan’s assistance for Central Asia, epitomized by a recent USD 760-million loan agreement to finance construction of a major electric power plant and related projects to enhance Uzbekistan’s power supply capability. Considering that Japan’s conduct of its external relations was almost exclusively confined to bilateral management with the United States and countries in East Asia throughout the Cold War period, these developments in Japanese foreign policymaking are certainly noteworthy.

At the same time, despite its significance in terms of developments in Japanese post-Cold War foreign policy, Japan’s growing engagement in Central Asia has by no means drawn any significant attention internationally, be it from the international media, policymakers in major capitals, or experts on global and regional politics. In Central Asia, Japan’s actions have been, for the most part, overshadowed by those of other major extra-regional actors who are widely viewed as the key players in what many now call the New Great Game in Central Asia (or Eurasia). Determined to maintain its privileged status as the former suzerain, Russia, on one hand, has persistently—and increasingly in recent years—sought to exert its political and military influence in the countries of Central Asia, with the aim of bringing these countries into the orbit of former Soviet republics. China, on the other hand, has been aggressively expanding its economic presence and sway in Central Asia, primarily through a series of infrastructure-building projects—pipelines, roads, and railways—under the banner of the now USD 40-billion-earmarked “Silk Road Economic Belt.” The United States, which entered the game rather late, has also pursued the so-called “New Silk Road” strategy to connect Central Asia and South Asia via Afghanistan.

Our research seeks to identify certain distinctive characteristics of Japan’s foreign policies and practices toward Central Asia, which have been driven by three motivational forces, namely: (1) Tokyo’s growing discomfort with, and response to, the dramatic expansion of China’s economic and political influence in Central Asia; (2) its interest in expanding economic opportunity and natural resource access for Japanese businesses in the region; and (3) its effort to make visible and substantive contributions to global security concerns by assisting the United States. In doing so, the paper will give special attention to Japan’s decision to pursue a multilateral approach vis-à-vis Central Asian countries and the “Central Asia plus Japan” framework as well as examine its implications for and possible impact on Central Asian countries.


  1. Japan’s Environmental Policies and Relations with China and Southeast Asia

Japan enjoyed a high level of economic growth (the so-called Japanese Miracle) in the 1960s and 1970s. At the same time, Japan had to deal with the problem of pollution. Starting in the late 1960s, the national government began actively addressing this problem. The most symbolic case was the Pollution Diet of 1970. In this Diet, 14 pieces of legislation were passed. As a consequence, the Japanese government’s efforts in addressing the problem were evaluated as successful. Pollution in Japan declined dramatically in the following 10 years.

One of the reasons for the Japanese government’s success in enacting these environmental policies was the rise of national income. According to the theory of development, in the early stages of economic growth, environmental degradation and pollution increase. Then, at an advanced level of economic development, further growth in national income does not have the effect of increasing pollution but rather decreases it. The policy styles adopted, as exemplified by administrative guidance, voluntary agreement, and economic incentives, were another reason for the success. These policy styles were emphasized in the OECD report of 1977.

It is important to draw implications from how Japan successfully implemented environmental policies. Even though many developing countries have adopted strict environmental policies, implementation can be a completely different story. Firstly, let’s review the public financing schemes for pollution prevention in Japan of several related institutions, e.g., the Japan Development Bank, Japan Finance Corporation for SMEs, Environmental Pollution Control Service Corporation, and People’s Credit and Finance Corporation. From the 1950s to the early 1970s, private commercial banks had a negative attitude toward environmental investment because capital demand had been larger than capital supply. The total expenditures for pollution prevention have increased since 1970 regardless of negative economic growth, with public loans playing an important role in sustaining environmental investment.

Secondly, regarding the political background for public financing schemes, there are in general three approaches in Japanese politics. Before the establishment of the Environmental Agency, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Ministry of Welfare had been dealing with environmental issues. MITI utilized existing financial instruments to fund environmental policies. The Ministry of Welfare was able to control special accounts for the funding of environmental protection services. Thirdly, interest groups were passive on environmental issues until the establishment of public institutions. Businesses were also able to meet the environmental regulations at low cost.

Lastly, it is certain that these public institutions played a crucial role in providing capital for environmental protection. The lessons learned from Japan show the importance of coordination between environmental regulations and their implementation.


3.1 China

China primarily depends on coal to meet its energy needs. However, in recent years, its dependence has started to decrease. The following are four recent pieces of news related to China’s energy structure. 1) In 2015, China’s energy consumption data was revised to a large degree. 2) The Chinese government is firmly committed to COP21. It includes requirements that CO2 emissions per unit GDP be reduced by 60–65% by 2030 and that the share of non-fossil fuel in the primary energy mix be increased to 20%. As the result, China’s coal consumption is assumed to peak around 2030. 3) China’s energy consumption is reported to have decreased in 2015, which is the first time since 1981. Growth of coal consumption has also been negative since 2014. 4) Coal’s share among primary energy sources has dropped to 63.8% from a high of 72.5% in recent years.

An important factor affecting the trend of coal consumption is the coal pricing system. China used to have a policy-guided price for coal which kept the price lower than it should have been. The coal price for non-power-generation users was higher than for power-generation users due to considerations of social welfare. Later on, the wholesale prices of coal and electricity were raised. In addition, nuclear and wind power have become more competitive. Of coal-fired power plants, 43% were in deficit in 2011, which resulted in reduced investment in coal-fired power plants.

However, investment in coal-fired power plants has been increasing again since 2014 because the economics of coal have recovered due to the sharp decline of the coal price since 2011. Additionally, the authority for reviewing applications to build coal-fired power plants was transferred to local governments. In order to stimulate their own local economy, local governments refuse to purchase hydropower from other provinces. Meanwhile, there are also factors to help decrease coal consumption, e.g.: 1) the commitment to COP21; 2) strengthening environmental regulations; 3) the growth of installed renewable energy capacity; and 4) the rising share of the service economy in GDP.

In conclusion, the speed of the reduction of coal consumption in China has been remarkable even in view of the revised data. However, considering the low price of coal, the speed of reducing the share of coal in the energy mix will probably slow down. Although industries and local governments might have strong incentives to use coal again, the central government could stop such a trend.


3.2 Southeast Asia

In 2013, the World Bank issued its Energy Sector Directions Paper which promotes energy efficiency, renewable energy, and hydro gas. The World Bank has limited involvement with coal, but supports low-carbon technologies and economic instruments for reducing carbon emissions. The World Bank also cooperates with client countries on power grid integration in Southeast Asia. Energy access has been well achieved in Southeast Asia, but there are still a few areas falling behind (e.g., Myanmar, Indonesian islands). The demand for energy in Southeast Asia, which is increasing rapidly, will triple by 2040. In contrast to China, Southeast Asia is shifting to coal power generation with a decline in natural gas and a slight increase in renewable energy.

Gas Market: Australia and the U.S. are natural gas exporters. Even though the natural gas price is low due to oversupply, demand for gas in Japan, China, and Europe is modest, while gas is still not competitive with coal in Southeast Asia. Malaysia and Indonesia have been energy exporters, but are shifting gas to their domestic markets. Thus, it is important to improve the investment environment in the region. The World Bank has suggested that the client countries’ governments reform regulatory frameworks and market structures to attract investors.

Coal Market: The energy sector is shifting to coal in Southeast Asia because the coal price has fallen 60% since 2011. In addition, China decreased its imports of coal by 1/3 last year, which caused an oversupply of coal. Thus, in order to reduce carbon emissions, it is practical to improve coal efficiency and adopt the technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS). However, CCS is expensive and energy intensive, and would require the countries to develop greater storage capacity. Financing from the World Bank limits financing for coal. Japan only finances advanced coal. The AIIB and China still finance coal.

Renewable Energy: Hydro is one of the major renewable energies in China and many Southeast Asian countries. Although the costs of wind and solar energy have been reduced, there is no significant increase in Southeast Asia as has been seen in China.

From the perspective of Japan, as an importer of energy, Japan is benefiting from decreased prices of natural gas and coal since most nuclear power plants have stopped generating electricity. However, this is an especially difficult situation for exporters like Indonesia. It is an opportunity for investment in and financing of oil, gas, and high-efficiency low-carbon coal technologies. Japan could collaborate with the U.S. on hydropower and geothermal investment and consulting as well as on the trade of natural gas. In addition, the two countries should work together on the development of new energy technologies such as CCS.



For the academic year 2015, our research project focuses on (1) U.S.-Japan relations in political and security cooperation, (2) Japan’s commitments to Central Asia in economic cooperation, and (3) China and Southeast Asia in environment and energy cooperation. For socio-cultural cooperation, not only political and economic relations but also environmental and energy cooperation, the U.S.-Japan collaboration has played a significant role in stabilizing regional cooperation along with China and Southeast and Central Asia.

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