Organization for Regional and Inter-regional StudiesWaseda University


【Seminar report Mar.11 & 12, 2019】EU-Japan Forum

  • Date & Time
    Monday, 11 March, 2019 / 9:00~19:30
    Tuesday, 12 March, 2019 / 9:00~19:30
  • Venue
    Institut d’études européennes of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
  • Language
  • Organizers
    Waseda Institute for British Studies, ORIS
    JSPS Core-to-Core (C2C) Programme, A. Advanced Research Networks “The European Union and Japan in a Fluid Global Liberal Order: Establishing an Inter-Regional Studies Centre”
  • Schedule


On 11 and 12 March 2019, the Organization for Regional and Inter-regional Studies (ORIS) of Waseda University co-organized the 21st annual EU-Japan Forum in cooperation with the Institut d’études européennes of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Supported by, inter alia, generous funding from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), the two-day Forum brought together close to 50 scholars from European and Japanese universities. This broad inter-regional network of researchers participated in multiple sessions – 8 topical panels, 2 PhD workshops, 1 policy roundtable, and 1 public keynote lecture – which were clustered around three interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks: comparative regionalism, normative diffusion, and global and regional actorness. This allowed for broad dialogue and exchange between the contributors to each of these research agendas, in turn jumpstarting explorations for joint publications including edited volumes, special journal issues, and co-authored articles.

DAY 1 – 11 March 2019
09:00 – 11:00 : PhD workshop

The first out of two PhD workshops, involving 13 doctoral fellows, was hosted by Mattheis and Ponjaert and focused on methods associated with comparative politics and area studies. The 2h-long session started with a joint lecture addressing three questions central to the research projects of the PhD fellows, respectively relating to definitions, comparisons and conceptualizations of regional institutions, organizations, groupings, and actors. The lecture was followed by a tour-de-table during which the early stage researchers were invited to present their individual research projects and connected goals. The workshop concluded with a ‘world café’ or a set of smaller rotating group discussions focusing on fieldwork and methodological challenges relevant to the PhD journey, such as gathering data, research design, publication strategies, and comparative research tools.

11:00 – 13:00 : AGORA Forum Policy Roundtable

This policy-centered roundtable aimed at providing an open-ended and privileged discussion among researchers and policymakers on the coming-into-force of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The session opened with three presentations from varying perspectives sketching some of the key questions to be raised during the debate: Telò addressed the international and historical relevance of the EPA and the challenges ahead; Watanabe further deepened the debate by zooming in on the major issues for further EU-Japan cooperation, ranging from uncertainties associated with the Brexit and the incumbent US government’s embrace of bilateralism to opportunities for both actors to re-establish the primacy of multilateralism; and Michelson infused the conversation with evidence from the ground by giving a first-hand account of how the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation is acting as a much-needed ‘helpdesk’ to answer inquiries from both EU member states and Japan regarding the chapters covered by the EPA. The roundtable concluded with a series of questions from the floor which led to an insightful and stimulating mix of research- and policy-informed dialogues.

14:00 – 15:30 : Understanding the Obligations Born from the EU-Japan Economic and Strategic Partnership Agreements

This topical panel featured three presentations addressing the consequences following the conclusion of the EU-Japan EPA and SPA. Nakamura’s presentation focused on the legal implications and interactions between the EU-Japan EPA and SPA, comparing these with article-by-article investigations of similar treaties concluded by the EU with Korea (2010) and Canada (2014). Delineating four distinct features of this new generation of cooperation agreements, Nakamura pointed out similarities and differences between the three sets of treaties and elaborated on the future potential of the EU-Japan EPA and SPA. Next, Ponjaert reviewed the negotiations on the EU-Japan EPA and the contacts between technocrats on both sides. In so doing, he pointed at various agendas – including data management, regulatory dialogue, and competition policy – upon which both sides were not able to agree during the negotiations, but in which successful progress can help to avoid a ‘postpatrum depression’. The final presentation by Yoshizawa aimed to explain the European Commission’s complex and evolving external competition strategy. Yoshizawa recounted how the EU, after a failed attempt for global rule-making, moved to a hybrid strategy of voluntary policy convergence characterized by three major types of agreements, each corresponding to different EU wants and needs.

16:00 – 17:30 : The Case of EU-Japan Cooperation in Criminal Matters

The next panel similarly included three presentations and concentrated on EU-Japan cooperation in criminal matters. First, Weyembergh and Wieczorek presented the final conclusions of their two-year research project on the negotiations and implementation of the 2009 EU-Japan Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) Agreement. After an encompassing appraisal of the negotiations and the scope, content, and achievements of the agreement, the presenters concluded that it constitutes an overall success which has significantly increased and accelerated EU-Japan criminal cooperation. Yet, the EU is still facing various challenges in exporting its acquis in practice (e.g. implementing video conferences, stimulating a debate in Japan on the abolishment of the death penalty, and aligning rights of access to lawyers). Matsuzawa broadened the geographical scope of the discussion by comparing the main characteristics of the EU-Japan agreement with a wider set of similar agreements concluded by Japan with the US (2005), South Korea (2007), China (2008), Hong Kong (2009), and Russia (2011). Matsuzawa found that the EU’s norms on mutual assistance in criminal matters are surely diffusing throughout the international community, but also highlighted it will be difficult to steer Japan away from implementing the death penalty. Finally, Hufnagel analyzed the recently signed Working Arrangement between Europol and the Japan’s National Policy Agency (NPA). After an in-dept examination of the background and workings of the arrangement, Hufnagel found that on paper, it is more far-reaching than strategic agreements concluded between Japan and EU member states, but in practice, it has resulted in little cooperation thus far due to preoccupations on both sides with regional affairs.

18:00 – 19:30 : Public Conference

The Forum’s public conference was organized around the very timely and relevant topic of the EU and Japan as partners in research and education. Initial remarks were given by H.E. Mr. Akira Kono, Deputy Chief of the Mission of Japan to the EU, and Ms. Angelova-Krasteva, Director at DG EAC of the European Commission. Both speakers underlined the need for research cooperation at a time during which the current liberal order is being challenged from within and without. Crucially, the EU-Japan SPA devotes specific attention to education and research with the purpose of developing this into a strategic policy agenda. While such an agenda inevitably entails corollary challenges and questions, the general thrust of the subsequent discussions supported the belief that cross-border learning mobility and inclusive, innovation-driven learning are indispensable to promote peace, prosperity, and shared values.

DAY 2 – 12 March 2019
09:00 – 10:30 : Global Governance and the Sustainable Development Goals

The first panel of the second day consisted of four presentations focusing on sustainable development goals and global health governance. Katsuma’s presentation poignantly laid bare three current challenges in the management of universal health coverage (UCH) and proposed three corresponding solutions for better governance to achieve SDG 3: common monitoring mechanisms, mutual learning platforms at the regional and global levels, and coordination of international cooperation. Bacon’s talk, concerned with SDGs 8 and 14, offered a novel approach combining three of the most prominent theories on norm diffusion in EU studies, being ‘normative power Europe’, ‘norm diffusion models’, and the ‘spiral model’. The applicability of this new framework was tested by looking at the EU’s ‘yellow card’ diplomacy on human rights in Thailand and showed that the EU is rather successfully diffusing human rights in this particular case. Ahmed Hassim explained how the SDGs are embedded in a global set of practices that are shaped by a set of actors in a new regime of global health. Ahmed Hassim argued that this regime is dominated by a relatively small group of actors and that this requires careful use, if not an overhaul of, current indicators, metrics, and evaluation logic. Lastly, Chiba discussed the role and functions of multilateral meetings in global health governance as illustrated by the China-Japan-Korea tripartite health ministers’ meeting (THMM). After carefully setting out the characteristics of these meetings during the past 12 years, Chiba took stock of the THMM’s practices and concluded with an assessment of its contributions and limitations.

11:00 – 12:30 : Regional Organizations’ Funding Structures

The fifth topical session brought together four speakers looking at the financial structures of regional organizations. Mattheis broached the subject matter by advancing a global outlook on the finances of regionalism and by explaining how the budgets of regional organizations, especially those of the neglected South, are made. Strongly refuting universal assumptions, Mattheis presented a typology to order regional organizations from a financial point of view according to budget size, funding sources, and contribution formulas. Through the lens of institutional balancing, Terada looked at Japan’s development and infrastructure strategy. Countering increased Chinese efforts in these fields, Terada specifically focused on the feasibility and viability of Japan’s vision for institutionalizing Indo-Pacific regionalism. Shu, in turn, put the spotlight on China’s infrastructure investment in Asia including the China-led belt and road initiatives and the AIIB. Interestingly, Shu moved beyond the current debates on diplomacy and policy by carefully dissecting the political economy of China’s strategies and highlighted how China’s infrastructure investment is intricately linked to internal state-building, why there is no need for disproportionate fears for external dependency on China, and in what way a regional approach can offset the challenges of China’s growing economic diplomacy. Jedrzejowska concluded the session by providing broad insights into the aid architecture of the East Asian region and tackled the pertinent question of competition and cooperation between old and new development finance institutions. Crucially, Jedrzejowska found that there is a strong degree of complementarity between the two generations of institutions as evidenced in practice by cooperation between the AIIB/NDB and the World Bank/ADB.

14:00 – 15:30 : European and Japanese Strategic Cultures

Security cooperation between the EU and Japan was the topic of the sixth academic panel. Atanassova-Cornelis launched the discussion with an overview of Japan’s strategic uncertainties associated on the one hand with the US, including concerns about US abandonment and America’s accommodation/power struggle with China, and on the other with the Chinese mainland, including concerns about the PRC’s future intentions and maritime security objectives. Atanassova-Cornelis observed how Japan is developing a multi-faceted response to these challenges, not in the least through diversifying its strategic relations to Europe. In her presentation, Higashino sought to revisit the concept of the ‘insular’ state and examined to what extent it still applies to the EU’s perspective of Turkey. Reassessing many recent developments in EU-Turkey relations – i.e. Turkey’s stagnated accession process, the migration crisis, the modernization of the Customs Union, and Turkey’s engagements with non-Western oragnizations such as the SCO, Higashino found that the concept of the insular state holds up surprisingly well. Vosse shifted the focus to the non-traditional area of cybersecurity. After outlining the two constituent pillars of cyberspace, Vosse evaluated Japanese and European cybersecurity policies before linking back to cybersecurity cooperation in the EU-Japan SPA, current forms of collaboration, and the way ahead.

16:00 – 17:30 : The Regional Level and Inclusive Education

Panel seven concentrated on inclusive education at the European and Asian regional levels. Bartes set the tone with a general review of the state-of-affairs on both sides, indicating that this is an important area in which still a great amount of work remains to be undertaken by the EU and Japan. Kuroda built further on these introductory remarks by considering the historical development of global governance education and examining how the concept of inclusive education has been diffused through at least five approaches, each illustrated with one or more examples: conferences, law, concepts, indicators, and networks. Bribosia and Rorive took on the challenges posed by the implementation of inclusiveness in higher education. The presenters started with an overview of the international and European obligations and the dynamics between the different levels and legal orders. Next, Bribosia and Rorive addressed effectiveness issues by looking at several decisions of the ECtHR that are key in the field of inclusive education and by gauging the impact of the ULB’s Equality Law Clinic, presently working on a guide for the inclusion of students with disabilities in higher education. The panel ended with a presentation by Hayashi who critically investigated the dissonance between policy intentions and implementation. Following a brief history of special needs education, Hayashi presented her findings of a comparative qualitative and quantitative analysis of around 150 international reports, which showed that policy intentions are inadequately implemented in line with the legally binding instrument of the CRPD.

18:00 – 19:30 : PhD Workshop

Whereas methodology was central in the first PhD workshop, theory was the central issue in the second workshop. PhD fellows were divided in three parallel groups of four participants, each focusing on one of the three theoretical research agendas of the C2C project on Japan and the EU in a global fluid liberal order. Discussions first focused on the literature distributed in advance with the session chairs shaping the debate by putting forward some of the most critical questions in the respective fields. Participants were encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas and to connect these to their own research projects. Finally, prospects for future joint research were discussed, including possible contributions by the attending fellows.

18:00-19:30 : Reconciliation in a time of Exclusive Nationalism

In this final panel, participants focused on an issue of global significance – disputes over historical memory and the rise of right-wing nationalism. In the first panel, Kato focused on how postwar Japanese films have helped to promote certain narratives related to pre-1945 war and colonialism, detailing a variety of perspectives regarding Japan’s historical conduct. The next speaker, Hall, moved on to another form of media – internet-based right-wing broadcasting in Japan, and how it has mobilized hate against immigrant communities. In the third presentation, Zhang described the situation in China, where right-wing populist discourse has flourished in some online communities. The discussion after the presentations, chaired by Frangville, tied together the three topics and their relationship to wider issues within Europe and the world. The speakers and audience members discussed the growth of xenophobia, legal and social reactions to hate speech, and the importance of film and online media in shaping the political views of viewers.

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