The Logic of Japan's Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with ASEAN

  • Published : 2012.10.31


Among political scientists, Japan's free trade agreements (FTA) with member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been considered to be a political tool that can compete against China for regional leadership in East Asia. However, this paper demonstrates that Japan's so-called FTA diplomacy towards ASEAN nations serves the broad interests of Japanese actors in both the political and economic sectors. Given the attention to Japanese domestic political issues, it is argued that diplomacy primarily facilitates a need for free trade with ASEAN and ASEAN markets for Japanese corporations to compete in the global economy and for the government to nurture Japan's stagnant economy by assisting these corporations. This work also contends that the unclear function of FTA as an economic good is due to the lack of the government capacity to effectively manage FTA diplomacy. This partly results from the conventional view with regard to Sino-Japanese rivalry.



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