When Yoshidide Suga recently took over as prime minister of Japan, he tellingly focused his first trip abroad on Southeast Asia. The region has long been crucial to Japan’s foreign policy, and Japan has long been a key external partner to ASEAN and its constitutive states and societies. Japan’s engagement in Southeast Asia has become even more important in the era of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” as the region confronts new economic, political and security challenges against the backdrop of waxing Sino-American rivalry and now a global pandemic. This webinar will examine Japan’s role in Southeast Asia in the recent past and the going forward. Drawing on the findings of a collaborative research project involving scholars from Southeast Asia, Japan, and North America, John Ciorciari and Kiyo Tsutsui will highlight Japan’s engagement in key areas such as infrastructure investment, maritime security assistance, and multilateral diplomacy, as well as Southeast Asian responses to its initiatives. They will also discuss the important roles played by non-state actors in mediating Japanese ties to Southeast Asia, and they will review key elements of continuity and change likely to extend into the Suga administration and beyond.
About the Speakers
John Ciorciari is Associate Professor and Director of the Weiser Diplomacy Center and International Policy Center at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan. He is the author of Sovereignty Sharing in Fragile States (Stanford University Press, forthcoming 2021), The Limits of Alignment: Southeast Asia and the Great Powers since 1975 (Georgetown University Press, 2010), and co-editor of The Courteous Power: Japan and Southeast Asia in the Indo-Pacific Era (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming 2021).
Kiyoteru Tsutsui is Henri H. and Tomoye Takahashi Professor and Senior Fellow in Japanese Studies at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, where he is also Director of the Japan Program, a Senior Fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and a Professor of Sociology. He is the author of Rights Make Might: Global Human Rights and Minority Social Movements in Japan (Oxford University Press, 2018), co-editor of Corporate Responsibility in a Globalizing World (Oxford University Press, 2016) and co-editor of The Courteous Power: Japan and Southeast Asia in the Indo-Pacific Era (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming 2021).