The early twenty-first century has brought sweeping changes to the global environment, both economic and geopolitical, that Japan confronts. The world political economy is growing both more integrated and more volatile. Non-state actors, both constructive and destructive, are growing in importance. China and India are clearly rising and growing more assertive, in the context of a Eurasian continentalism – also engaging Europe – that is growing more important on the global scene.
Japan has often been slow to respond to discontinuous global change. An insular tradition, parochial sub-national institutions, and an economy large enough to encourage sentiments of self-sufficiency outside the resource sector have encouraged this status-quo tendency, and a persistent tendency to respond, at most, as a “reactive state” in relations with the broader world. Against this backdrop, the ambitious initiatives of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in both economic and diplomatic affairs, have encouraged a global perception that matters may be changing.
The author, a specialist on Japan’s political economy and former Special Advisor to the US Ambassador to Japan, will consider in detail the central problems, both economic and geopolitical, that PM Abe confronts in the broader world; his underlying approach; and prospects for ultimate success, from both Japanese and global standpoints. Abe is arguably trying to transcend the “reactive state” pattern of the past, but that the rise of Eurasian continentalism is encouraging a deepening relationship with the United States that limits multi-directional diplomacy. 2016 events will be crucial to Abe’s future prospects.
About the Speaker:
Kent Calder is currently Director of the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, D.C. He also serves as Director of Japan Studies. He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon in the Fall of 2014. Before arriving at Johns Hopkins SAIS in 2003, he taught for twenty years at Princeton University, was a Visiting Professor at Seoul National University, and Lecturer on Government at Harvard University. Calder has served as Special Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan (1997-2001), Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (1989-1993 and 1996); and as the first Executive Director of Harvard University’s Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, during 1979-1980. Calder received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1979, where he worked under the direction of Edwin O. Reischauer.
A specialist in East Asian political economy, Calder has spent eleven years living and researching in Japan, and four years elsewhere in East Asia. His most recent works include The US, Japan, and the Gulf Region (August 2015), Asia in Washington (Brookings 2014) and The New Continentalism: Energy and Twenty-First Century Eurasian Geopolitics (Yale, 2012). He has also authored Embattled Garrisons: Comparative Base Politics and American Globalism (Princeton, 2007), co-authored The Making of Northeast Asia (Stanford, 2010), and co-edited East Asian Multilateralism, with Francis Fukuyama. Among Calder’s major works on Japanese politics and public policy are Crisis and Compensation (Princeton, 1988); and Strategic Capitalism (Princeton, 1993). He has also written extensively on Asian energy geopolitics and U.S.-Japan relations, including Pacific Alliance (Yale, 2009); and Pacific Defense (William Morrow, 1996). Calder’s first book, The East Asia Edge, co-authored with Roy Hofheinz, Jr., (Basic Books, 1982), was one of the early studies of comparative East Asian public policy, based on a seminar first co-taught with Hofheinz at Harvard in the fall of 1979.