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  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The year 2020 was characterized by the intensification of US-China confrontation and strategic competition, which had been pointed out in the Strategic Annual Report 2019, in all areas from military and security affairs as well as dominance in advanced technologies and supply chains to narratives on coronavirus responses. Amid this confrontation, the rules-based international order faced even more severe challenges; the multilateral framework established after World War II with the United Nations at its core lost its US leadership and fell into serious dysfunction. While the international community is struggling to cope with the rapidly expanding outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China has been moving to expand its influence through increasingly authoritarian and assertive domestic and international policies on the rule of law and territorial issues, as well as through economic initiatives such as the existing “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and its responses to the pandemic. The confrontation with the United States is becoming more and more pronounced, and the Indo-Pacific region is turning itself into divided and contested oceans. In this transforming strategic environment, expressions of support for the vision of a rulesbased “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) that Japan has been promoting for the past several years, or announcements of similar visions have followed one after the other. The year 2020 also saw significant strengthening of the cooperative framework among four countries – Japan, the United States, Australia, and India (QUAD) – together with the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between countries in this group. At the same time, progress was also made in a regional cooperation framework that includes China with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement in East Asia. The Strategic Annual Report 2020 looks back at major international developments since last year’s Report through the end of 2020, focusing on the transformation of the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific region and the response of the international community.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Multilateralism, COVID-19, Destabilization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Middle East, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Tetsuo Kotani
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: A summit meeting between Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and President Joe Biden was held on April 16, 2021, followed by a joint statement. In the statement, for the first time in the 52 years since 1969, the importance of the security of the Taiwan Strait was emphasized by the leaders of Japan and the United States, confirming that both countries are increasingly concerned about the current situation regarding Taiwan. According to a poll conducted by Nikkei Inc. after the summit, 50% of the Japanese public considered the U.S.-Japan summit itself as "positive" (32% "negative"), and 74% of the respondents "agreed" that Japan should be involved in stabilizing the Taiwan Strait, while only 13% "disagreed." These figures were received with some surprise by experts. This paper will analyze these changes in Japan's perception of Taiwan, and then examine the issues that Japan should address in the future following the recent Japan-U.S. joint statement.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Taiwan, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Masaaki Yatsuzuka
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: There is no question that China's presence in the Middle East is growing significantly. Will China continue to deepen its involvement in the region and play a role in shaping the regional order, taking the place of the United States? In other words, will China practice major power diplomacy in the Middle East? The view among researchers in China and elsewhere1 over this question is divided. To categorize their arguments into two camps, there is a cautious engagement theory that warns against the risk of getting caught up in the turmoil in the Middle East and recommends (or predicts) that China protect its economic interests while maintaining political neutrality vis-à-vis the Middle East as it has done so far. On the other hand, there is an active engagement theory advocating (or foreseeing) that China deepen its engagement, proactively participate based on the responsibility of a major world power in solving problems in the Middle East, and actively propose its own ideas in order to protect Chinese interests in the Middle East.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Nobumasa Akiyama
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: On January 20, 2021, a new administration will take office in the United States. This could lead to changes in US-Iran relations. The Trump administration continued to provoke Iran by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), tightening sanctions, and killing Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Meanwhile, the incoming president Joe Biden and key members of his diplomatic team are oriented toward a return to the JCPOA. In the midst of all this, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist who is believed to have played a central role in Iran's nuclear development, was murdered. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by saying he would retaliate at an "appropriate" time, and an advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he would take "decisive" action. Although the US is not believed to have been directly involved in this incident, there are concerns that it will cast a dark shadow on the diplomacy between the US and Iran over the JCPOA. Shortly thereafter, Iran's parliament passed a law that obliges the government to take steps to expand nuclear activities that significantly exceed the JCPOA's limits and to seek the lifting of sanctions. The new US administration will need to be very careful not to overlook either hard or soft signals, to analyze Iran's future course, and to take diplomatic steps to reduce Iran's nuclear and regional security threats.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, JCPOA, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Monika Chansoria
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: In the last quarter of the 18th century, Warren Hastings, the first de facto Governor General of India from 1774 to 1785 initiated and set up the English East India Company’s relations with Tibet. The first contact in this reference was initiated by the Tibetans, when, upon hearing the news of the defeat of Bhutan’s King Desi Shidariva by the British forces in the battle for Cooch Behar (1772-1774), the Panchen Lama, Palden Yeshe, wrote a historic letter of mediation addressed to the Governor General. Hastings seized the opportunity, and, in his response proposed a general treaty of amity and peace between Bengal and Tibet.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Affairs, History, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, England, Tibet
  • Author: Monika Chansoria
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: In the last quarter of the 18th century, Warren Hastings, the first de facto Governor General of India from 1774 to 1785 initiated and set up the English East India Company’s relations with Tibet. The backdrop to this was created when the ruler (sde-srid or srid-skyon) of Bhutan overran Sikkim some years prior. In 1771, the Bhutanese descended on the plains and invaded Cooch-Behar, taking in the Raja (King) as a prisoner. The royal family called on Warren Hastings for assistance, who, in turn, dispatched a battalion of sepoys. The Bhutanese were driven away from Cooch-Behar and chased into the Duars around winter 1772-1773.1 In the given circumstances, the Bhutanese government appealed the Tashi Lama (who was the acting Regent of Tibet during the infancy of the Dalai Lama) to intervene on their behalf.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, History, Trade
  • Political Geography: India, Asia, England, Tibet
  • Author: Monika Chansoria
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: Bilateral defense cooperation agreements (DCAs) have become the most common form of institutionalized defense cooperation. These formal agreements establish broad defense-oriented legal frameworks between signatories, facilitating cooperation in fundamental areas such as defense policy coordination, research and development, joint military exercises, education and training, arms procurement, and exchange of classified information. Nearly a thousand DCAs are currently in force, with potentially wideranging impacts on national and international security outcomes. A theory that integrates cooperation theory with insights from social network analysis explains the significance and need for DCAs. Shifts in the global security environment since the 1980s fueled the demand for DCAs. Ever since, States are known to have used DCAs to modernize their militaries, respond to shared security threats, and establish security umbrellas with like-minded states. However, the DCA proliferation cannot be attributed to the demand factor alone. Nations are required also to overcome dilemmas of mistrust and distributional conflicts. Network influences can increase the supply of DCAs by providing governments with information about the trustworthiness of partners and the risk of asymmetric distributions of gains. Two specific network influences that can be identified here are—preferential attachment and triadic closure. They show that these influences are largely responsible for the post-Cold War diffusion of DCAs. Novel empirical strategies further indicate that these influences derive from the proposed informational mechanism. States use the DCA ties of others to glean information about prospective defense partners, thus endogenously fueling further growth of the global DCA network.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Japan, India, Asia
  • Author: Valerie Niquet
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: China plays a significant role in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, where the current Director-General of the WHO was Minister of Health and then Minister of Foreign Affairs. This opaque influence and the support given by Beijing to Dr. Tedros seems to have weighed on the positions taken by the WHO in the face of the Covid 19 crisis. The consequences of these decisions are now being felt worldwide and contribute to undermining the credibility of a fragile multilateral system.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, United Nations, World Health Organization, Multilateralism, Soft Power, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia
  • Author: Kyoko Kuwahara
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: China has seen its image in the US and other countries worsen due to its slow initial responses to the novel coronavirus and its failure to disclose sufficient information. Meanwhile, China has been trumpeting its success in containing the coronavirus and pursuing "mask diplomacy" by sending medical supplies and teams of doctors to countries around the world in a frantic effort to rehabilitate its image. A glimpse of the desperation with which China is seeking to comport itself as a world leader can be seen in the facts that a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has used her own account on Twitter, inaccessible to the Chinese public at large, to appeal to public opinion in other countries, and that President Xi Jinping himself has engaged in a telephone offensive with the leaders of other countries.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Public Opinion, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Yuko Ido
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: On September 15, 2020, a joint statement was issued in Washington concerning Israeli peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain (The Abraham Accords Declaration). These agreements brought to four the number of Arab nations that have official diplomatic relations with Israel, the first two being Egypt (since 1979) and Jordan (since 1994)1. US President Trump himself praised these as "historic agreements"; however, there was no Palestinian representative at this celebration. These agreements mainly focus on strengthening economic and security relations among the participating countries, and they have encountered both supporting and opposing views within the international community. In particular, Iran and Turkey, which are at odds with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the region, have strongly criticized the agreements, saying they run counter to resolving the Palestinian Question. Many readers might recall the Camp David Accords of about 40 years ago that led to the first peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Let us now compare the two peace efforts and consider what the meaning of the 'Arab Cause' has been.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, United States of America