Regional Economic Integration of Japan
As one of the strongest economies in Asia, Japan’s posture towards regional economic integration had never been proactive and collaborative, until late 1990s when it started to change its manner and accelerate its pace of regional economic integrating. The purpose of this paper is to examine respectively what made Japan change mind, what political and economic reasons made Japan arrange its REI policies, and what those arrangements would bring to Japan’s international trade. The first section of this paper will describe Japan’s regional economic integration status, before the paper explores the political factors behind Japan’s REI arrangements in the second section and the economic factors behind its REI arrangements in the third, followed by the fourth section that analyses opportunities and challenges Japan’s international trade would face under those arrangements.
1. Regional economic integration status of Japan
After World War II, the trade policies of Japan are mainly based on General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), whilst Japan held a negative attitude towards regional economic integration or bilateral free trade agreement by not participating in any regional trade agreement negotiation with other countries and continued to express criticism of other neighboring countries’ actions they take towards regional economic integration, even in the mid-1980s, when many Asian countries started to seek regional economic cooperations1. By upholding GATT and WTO, Japan got plenty of favorable environment and conditions in getting access into international market.
Japan didn’t swing this policy until end of 1980s, when Japan together with Australia initiated Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 19892. with the aim of liberalizing trade. In 1992, Japan started to seek cooperation with ASEAN by holding ministerial meeting annually ever since “with the chief objective of promoting integration within ASEAN”...