(Project of the Kajima Institute of International Peace)
Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue
Tokyo Foundation, Research Fellow,
Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue was held on April 18th in Tokyo. The dialogue was co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and Vice President Mike Pence and the two leaders issued a joint press release agreeing to structure the dialogue along the three policy pillars: trade and investment rules/issues; cooperation in economic and structural policies; and sectoral cooperation. The press release basically reaffirmed what was agreed to by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump in February this year during the bilateral summit meeting in the U.S.
Both Vice President Pence and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross who was also visiting Tokyo at the time indicated that the Trump administration would eventually like to see a bilateral trade agreement vis-à- vis Tokyo. During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly criticized multilateral trade agreements including NAFTA and TPP as job-killing trade deals and vowed to open foreign markets for American products through tough bilateral trade negotiations. To avoid another trade friction with the U.S., Japanese government tried to steer clear of issues such as bilateral trade imbalance, weak yen and specific market access agendas like autos or agricultural products. Instead, Abe administration sought to use the opportunity to discuss overall regional economic agenda and high- standard economic rules to frame the ongoing regional economic integration.
As it turns out, the Economic Dialogue started rather quietly against some expectations that Trump administration would try to launch a bilateral FTA negotiation and pry open Japanese market. Strategic and domestic political factors lie behind this reserved U.S. posture. First, under the current strategic environment in East Asia with North Korea ever more defiant to develop ICBM capabilities and nuclear arsenal, as the "secretary of reassurance (Apr.16, Washington Post)," the Vice President could not afford to show the world that the U.S. and Japan were divided over tariff on beef. Secondly, President Trump's delay in filling critical leadership posts has prevented the administration to start a full-fledged trade negotiation vis-à- vis Tokyo. Various media reports explain this delay as a product of power struggle inside the White House. The policy realists and business practitioners have a head start in building their team under National Economic Council led by Gary Cohn or Secretary Steven Mnuchin's Treasury Department.
This relative increase of the realists' influence within the Trump administration is one of the reasons used to explain the policy flip-flops of the President during his first 100 days. Despite his campaign promises on alliance management, China's currency manipulation, or FRB's macro-economic policy, the President has changed his position. President Trump has repeatedly confessed his frustration on the complexity and sluggishness of politics or diplomacy. Aside from the presidential learning curve, many believe that the rise of the policy professionals is behind the somewhat down-to- earth policy decisions by the Trump White House.
According to a poll done by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, contrary to wide-spread belief, even the Trump supporters were not necessary against strong U.S. commitment to overseas afairs. What separates policy elites and the general public in terms of foreign policy is the negative impact of free trade and immigration on domestic jobs. On this regard, the general public is much more wary about the ongoing globalization than the opinion leaders though there is a general consensus on the direction of U.S. foreign policy as a whole.
Therefore, it is possible that the recent "flip-flops" on the part of President Trump is not really a flip-flop but aligning more accurately to the positions of U.S. public to begin with. The implication of this U.S. political development for Japanese economic diplomacy is that despite the quiet beginning of the bilateral economic talk, Trump administration's desire to opt for bilateral negotiation over multilateral negotiation will pose more difficult challenges for Japanese trade negotiators. Recently, Japan has decided to push for TPP11 framework that is TPP without the U.S. It is diplomatic efforts such as this, along with RCEP and Japan-E.U. EPA, that could create an incentive for the U.S. to remain committed to the regional architecture in East Asia. Japan needs to draw a bigger picture to promote its economic foreign policy and stop thinking how she could ask for a discount when Donald Trump plays hardball.
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- May 2019: "South Korea and Japan's Frictions over History" (Comments), Junya Nishino, Professor, Keio University
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- December 2017: "Problems in Sino-Japanese Relations, 1992-2042" lectured by Ezra F. Vogel, Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard University
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- June 2019: Report on India – Japan Security Dialogue 2019 by Ms. Vindu Mai Chotani, Ph.D Student, The University of Tokyo
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Japan's Rationale for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision
Tsuneo Watanabe, Senior Fellow, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation
The Significance and Possibilities of India-Japan Cooperation in the Concept of the Indo-Pacific
Toru ITO Associate Professor, National Defense Academy of Japan
Japan-India Defense Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Context - Operationalizing the Security Aspect of the Indo-Pacific Vision –
Hideshi Tokuchi, Senior Fellow, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)
India-US-Japan Defense Cooperation: What's next?
Dr. Satoru Nagao, Hudson Institute
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- February, 2017: Current topic "The Importance of Japan's Security Role Under Trump" written by Dr. Satoru Nagao is posted on the SSDP website.
- December, 2016: Current topic "Widening Security Task: Will SDF do the Job?" written by Mr. Ippeita Nishida is posted on the SSDP website.
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- August 2019: Korea-Japan Joint Seminar: FUTURE CONSENSUS DIALOGUE
- April 2019: "Security Studies (vol1 no2) April 2019"
- March 2019: A research journal "Security Studies vol1 no01" just published
- February 2019: The Denuclearization of North Korea and the Takeshima Issue
- December 2018: Former Vice Defense Minister Masahiro Akiyama's Memoirs (An Ad)
- November 2018: Participation in the Future Consensus Forum held in Beijing
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