Young Japanese Scholars Program: New Views on Politics and Policy from Tokyo to Taiwan


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In partnership with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation

When: Mar 10 2014 - 12:00pm until Mar 10 2014 - 1:30pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room

Young Japanese Scholars Program: New Views on Politics and Policy from Tokyo to Taiwan

An Asia Pacific Political Economy Seminar featuring:

Professor Chihiro Okawa
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Law, Kanagawa University

Dr. Madoka Fukuda
Associate Professor, Department of Global Politics, Faculty of Law, Hosei University

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University and advisor for the

Open communication and the exchange of ideas is a key component of both US-Japan relationship and the Young Japanese Scholars/Experts Overseas Deployment Program. Project advisor Dr. Toshihiro Nakayama, professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, described the "thrust of this program" as to provide new Japanese scholars the skills they need to participate and share ideas in global forums. Two participants in this SPF-sponsored initiative, which is also designed to provide opportunities for international dialogue to a new generation, presented their research on contemporary Japanese policy.

Discussing Japan’s Policy toward the Cross-Strait Relations, Dr. Madoka Fukuda analyzed the current state of Japan-Taiwan relations, explaining why relations have continued to develop despite rising Sino-Japanese tensions and improving cross-straits relations. Pressured on the one hand by China for closer ties, and lured by shared interests with Japan on the other, Taiwan is often seen as caught between the two.

Dr. Madoka Fukuda, Associate Professor in the Department of Global Politics at Hosei University, examined the factors that are creating a new dynamic in Japan-China-Taiwan relations since 2008.

Recent regional frictions over historical and territorial issues have highlighted Taiwan's delicate situtaion. China has called on Taipei to join it in a unified front against Japan on the Senkaku-Daiyoutai dispute, in which Taiwan is also a claimant. Instead Taiwan refused, preferring a different approach to the issue, which resulted in Taiwan and Japan signing a fisheries agreement in the disputed areas. When asked to respond to historical issues such as the Japanese Prime Minister's visit to Yasukuni war shrine, seen as a provocative action in China and South Korea, Taiwan's position was ambiguous, if not ambivalent. In Dr. Fukuda's view, shared liberal and democratic values have promoted closer a Tokyo-Taipei relationship, as has the fact that both countries must grapple with finding a balance between engagement and hedging in their interactions with China. Therefore despite the closer relations with China, there is a reluctance in Taiwan to sour its relations with Japan.

In his presentation on Party Politics and Policy Change in Japan, Professor Chihiro Okawa discussed the changing political positions of leading politicians and the major political parties. Using data from the joint University of Tokyo-Asahi Survey, he discussed how the dramatic changes in political power in the first decade of the 21st century reflect major changes in the policy positions and governing theories of both the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

Prof. Chihiro Okawa, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Kanagawa University, presented his research on the recent changes of political positions of leading politicians and major parties in Japan.

Both parties had to respond to the electoral reforms of the 1990s, as well as national demographic changes, by courting the newly significant urban constituencies. Throughout the post-war era the political system heavily favored rural districts, which the LDP courted heavily with generous redistribution policies. The reforms reduced the influence of these regions at the time when a recession-strapped Japanese public had less tolerance for hand-outs to regions that were shrinking in population and stagnating. Beginning with Prime Minister Koizumi, the LDP tried to reach out to the urban population with a movement toward small-government reforms and other changes to economic policy to show voters they were aware of their concerns. The DPJ, which came to be in the mid-1990s as a coalition of all the major opposition parties has also seen shifting policy stances both in and out of power. Being comprised if so many different factions, many with widely divergent ideologies, it had been difficult for the party to set and maintain a unified policy front. DPJ heavyweights' policy preferences tended to shift more centrist when they held the party leadership, but there were often changes in policy from one leader to another.

Professor Okawa explained why, despite this increasing attention and awareness from Japanese politicians to their constituents desires in the past decade, many leaders went their own way on policy. According to his research, it was a matter of what issues mattered the most to the general public. On policies related to economics and welfare, politicians were more likely to shift to show voters that they were attentive to their preferences. However in other areas such as foreign and security policy they have more latitude to stick to their policy proclivities due to limited voter interest.

Dr. Madoka Fukuda is an associate professor of international politics and China studies at the Department of Global Politics, Faculty of Law, Hosei University. Her research focuses on Japan-China-Taiwan relations, and her first book, The PRC’s Diplomacy and Taiwan: the Origin of the ‘One-China’ Principle (Keio University Press, 2013 [Japanese]) won the 25th Special Prize for Asia-Pacific Studies from the Asian Affairs Research Council, Japan. She received her PhD and MA in media and governance from Keio University.

Professor Chihiro Okawa is an assistant professor of Political Science, Faculty of Law, Kanagawa University. Specializing in contemporary Japanese politics, his recent journal articles in Japanese include Party's Policy for 2012 General Election, and Future Perspective and LDP vs. DPJ: Trends of the Politicians and Voters in Japan till the Change of Government in 2009. He was a managing researcher for the Tokyo University-Asahi Shimbun Surveys, and received his LL.M. from the Graduate School of Law and Politics, University of Tokyo.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Grace Ruch Clegg
Phone: 202-327-9762