HLJ_45-1_103.pdf 1.43 MB
Transformation to Kantei-led diplomacy and the TPP
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries including Japan and the U.S. reached conclusion of their negotiations in October 2015. It is widely believed that the TPP does not only have a significant economic impact but also involves international security and rulemaking in the Asia-Pacific region. Japanese government explained the necessity of the TPP, linking it with the improvement of security in the context of rising China as a threat. However, in the past such linkage has been hardly used by Japan, which has addressed security and trade as two separate issues. This article reveals what enabled the government of Japan to emphasize the security aspect which has possibly helped the conclusion of the TPP negotiations to promote trade liberalization.
I explore the case study of the political process, by comparison with the past administrations, from participating in the TPP negotiations in the second Abe administration to concluding them, focusing on the shift of decision-making process in foreign policy in the government of Japan, especially from “bureaucracy-led” to “Kantei-led”.
The analysis finds that the policy-making process in this case had three characteristics as follows. First, bureaucracy-level decision-making among different ministries was coordinated successfully at the TPP Headquarters in the Cabinet Secretariat. Second, the Prime Minister himself actively persuaded opposition groups in the party and the industry. Thirdly, he kept emphasizing the security effects of the TPP at leadership-level meetings with the U.S. to cultivate and maintain public support. These features perhaps enable the government to successfully make a "comprehensive coordination" at Kantei-level, which cannot be enjoyed by bureaucracy-led process.
The TPP negotiations are probably the first free trade negotiation of “Kanteiled”. It is necessary to further investigate the mechanism of “Kantei-led” diplomacy in comparison with other cases of trade negotiations to determine whether such an attribute is consistent.