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Research Projects

I. Investigative Research Projects (categorized by subject)

1. Research on Japan's response to changes in the strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region

Major changes have occurred in the strategic balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region, and Japan is making various moves towards building new strategic relationships. In light of these strategic changes, the USA (which accorded the war on terror top priority in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks) has now shifted its focus to the Asia-Pacific region and is developing a new security strategy. Meanwhile, China is relentlessly pursuing maritime expansion, and the ASEAN nations are strengthening regional cooperation in the political and security spheres as well as in economic affairs.
It is becoming increasingly important for Japan to devise multi-faceted and multi layered diplomatic and security policies that include measures such as the strengthening of the bedrock Japan-US Alliance, the development of its relationship with China (in the year of the fortieth anniversary of the normalization of relations between the two nations), and the strengthening of its relationships with other Asian nations.
This research will consider the type of diplomatic and security strategies that Japan should adopt in this changing strategic environment.

2. Research on international peace cooperation

It has been twenty years since Japan commenced international peace cooperation activities (including United Nations peacekeeping operations and humanitarian assistance operations during times of conflict). In the course of this period, which has included the Somali civil war, the Bosnian civil war, the Kosovo conflict, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nature of conflict has undergone significant change, moving away from war between conventional states. This has resulted in major changes in the manner in which the United Nations and the international community involve themselves in conflicts. For example, in UN peacekeeping operations, "integrated missions"--which include support for democratization and the rule of law, training of public officials, humanitarian assistance, protection of civilians, and recovery and reconstruction--have become the norm, in place of traditional cease-fire monitoring and force separation.
Various issues arise with integrated missions, such as cooperation between numerous actors who have traditionally operated in different fields and the safety of the personnel involved. Since it cannot be claimed that Japan has acquitted itself adequately in this area, there is considerable scope for it to make a more significant contribution. From this point of view, means for improving international peace cooperation will be considered, based on the current reality of international peace cooperation and the issues involved.

3. Research on the instability in the Middle East

Dubbed the "Arab Spring," the mass anti-government protests that broke out in the Middle East in 2010 and 2011 are significantly affecting the stability of the region. Factors of instability in the region are multiplying, with the lack of progress in peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, heightened tensions over the issue of Iran's nuclear development, and increasing uncertainty regarding the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan after the respective withdrawals of US forces. Since the Middle East is Japan’s principal energy supply region, the future configuration of the region could have a significant effect on the stability of the Japanese economy. This research involves investigation into the factors of instability in the region.

4. Research on issues of administrative structure in the Constitution and associated laws

The notion of regional autonomy--including the Osaka metropolis plan--is attracting attention, and regional political parties are increasingly making their presence felt. At the national government level, there is gathering momentum for a review of Japan’s administrative structure, including the relationship between the national government and regional governments, and the way in which the national government is determined. This is due, in part, to the institutionalized distortion in the Diet, wherein the ruling party is in a minority in the House of Councillors. Debate is intensifying on the Constitution itself--the foundation of this administrative structure--and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is scheduled to publish a new draft constitution this spring. In this context, the issues facing Japan’s administrative structure will be considered, and investigative research will be carried out in an attempt to establish an appropriate future course.

5. Research on the various problems regarding cyberwar and Japan’s policy for developing a system to deal with it

In 2011, it became clear that successive, targeted cyberattacks had been launched against Japanese government institutions. It appears that government institutions have been the object of targeted cyberattacks since around 2007. However, 2011 could be termed the “first year of cyberwar,” as this was the year in which the current reality of cyberattacks became widely known. It is apparent that there have recently been two changes in the nature of cyberattacks: a transition to targeted attacks designed to steal vital information and the commencement of concerted cyberattacks targeting control systems. If Japan is to protect its cyberspace, it must consider the type of all encompassing, nationwide strategy it will adopt in its approach to cyberwar, and consider establishing an organization to detect attacks without delay and take countermeasures against them. Given the tangible impact of cyberwar, there has also been insufficient debate on the legal aspects under Japanese and international law--for example, on whether cyberattacks qualify as "armed attacks." This research will investigate the best ways for Japan to develop systems to cope with cyberwar and consider the legal status of cyberwar, based on the way in which recent events have unfolded in this connection.

6. Research on educational reform

As globalization continues, educational reform has become a matter of paramount urgency for Japan. To this end, it will be important to make the general public aware of the piteous state of education and stimulate a popular movement for educational reform. In 2011, the Institute for International Policy Studies (IIPS) published its Draft Proposal on Educational Reform, which focused principally on elementary education and which made recommendations that included the abolition of boards of education. Since then, IIPS has been conducting an ongoing investigation into higher education and is scheduled to publish its conclusions in the form of a Draft Proposal on University Reform.

7. Research on the economy, including monetary and fiscal policy

Events are at a crucial stage for emerging nations, for Asian nations, and for the global economy amid the instability brought about by the Western economies since the global economic crisis.
The Japanese economy has also not been immune to these effects and, although it has taken some time, is now feeling the reverberations of the crisis. In particular, 2011 was a year in which great disaster struck Japan; with the Great East Japan Earthquake and with the flooding in Thailand disrupting the supply chain, the nation was reduced to recording a trade deficit for the first time in 31 years.
Without a doubt, whatever becomes of the Japanese economy, there is an urgent requirement for measures to deal with the declining birthrate and the aging population, for fundamental reform of taxation and the social insurance system, for the establishment of a vibrant labor market, and for a medium- to long-term growth strategy.
Accordingly, the aims of this research are twofold: first, to focus on the questions of what the medium- to long-term future holds for Japan in light of the instability brought about by the global economy and of how Japan should react (based on the results of research carried out in 2011); and second, to make policy recommendations.

8. Research on a fundamental course for future energy policy

The stability of Japan's energy supply is in jeopardy due to factors such as the accident at the Fukushima Number 1 Nuclear Power Plant and severe tensions in the Middle East. On the basis of this state of affairs, research and investigation will be carried out on a fundamental course for future energy policy from the following viewpoints:

  • Understanding the reality of how the situation at the nuclear power plant has been handled after the accident and the reality of changes in nuclear policy worldwide
  • Understanding supply and demand for natural gas, which has attracted attention as an alternative source of energy (including moves to develop shale gas and changes in the situation in the Middle East)
  • Understanding renewable energy and energy conservation both in Japan and abroad
9. Research on the way forward for science and technology in Japan

The Great East Japan Earthquake has prompted serious questioning over the past year of how science and technology in Japan can contribute to public safety. As the global economy develops, the environment in which Japan finds itself is becoming even harsher, with the euro crisis, sharp rises in the prices of energy and natural resources, and the strong yen.
In any consideration of the way forward for Japan, the importance of science and technology policy may well increase, but will surely not diminish. However, given Japan's severe financial situation, the nation will have to reduce the number of key fields on which it focuses and concentrate investment in resources accordingly. At the same time, Japan must strive for greater cooperation with the private sector and demonstrate steady success in areas such as industrialization. This research will select the foremost fields in which Japan ought to be leading the way and carry out investigations based on current reality. Following on from the area of space development, which was researched last year, in 2012 the field of ocean development will be analyzed and studied.

II. International Conferences

1. Japan-USA-Korea Trilateral international conference and symposium

In recent years, foreign policy and security issues in Northeast Asia have been attracting global attention. In North Korea, General Secretary Kim Jong-il has died, and the regime of Kim Jong-un has been inaugurated. With its military provocations aimed at South Korea and its continuing uranium enrichment program, the nation is a major cause of heightened security tensions in the region. There are also heightened fears among the international community regarding the rise of China, which has begun to consider the South China Sea and the East China Sea as being among its "core interests." With these changes in the security environment, it is becoming increasingly important to the stability of the Northeast Asian region for Japan, the USA, and South Korea to engage in trilateral policy coordination and to construct collaborative systems. In cooperation with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and South Korea’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), IIPS has, since 2008, been staging Japan-USA-Korea Trilateral conferences for discussion on Northeast Asia, with the aims of constructing collaborative systems involving lawmakers and government officials, and devising specific coordinated policy proposals. The seventh such meeting will be held this year in Tokyo.

2. Tokyo-Seoul Forum international conference

Amid major change in the Northeast Asian region's political balance due to the rise of China, North Korea is ramping up the crisis by continuing with its brinkmanship, and factors of instability that threaten the region are on the increase. If stability in the region is to be achieved, it will be essential that there be cooperation between nations that share the fundamental values of democracy, freedom, the rule of law, and market economics. Thus it is becoming increasingly important that Japan and South Korea should share a mutual understanding in Northeast Asia.
In light of the changes in the security environment, in both countries an atmosphere has recently been brewing that is conducive to a closer relationship between them. It is now important that there should be a forum for strategic dialogue where Japanese and South Korean opinion leaders from the political arena, government officialdom, and the business world can achieve mutual understanding by taking advantage of the opportunity to discuss specific policy issues that relate to the roles that the two nations should play with a view to the future stability of East Asia. Since 2010, IIPS has been jointly staging this event with South Korea's Seoul Forum on International Affairs, enabling strategic dialogue for the purpose of promoting mutual understanding between the two nations. With the venue alternating between Tokyo and Seoul, the third Tokyo-Seoul Forum will be held in Tokyo this year.

3. Japan-China Forum international conference and symposium

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the normalization of relations between Japan and China. A gathering of representatives from both Japan and China, drawn from the realms of politics, business, and academia, will discuss the form that the Japan-China relationship should take in the future, based on the current situation and on the forty year relationship to date. On the economic front, there will be discussions of the challenges to sustained growth in the Asian and global economies and how best to cooperate to achieve this, while on the political front, there will be discussions of topics such as security challenges and the development of regional cooperation. The objectives of the conference are to foster common understanding between experts from the two countries and to provide recommendations to the governments of Japan and China. This year's conference will be staged jointly by IIPS and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, and is scheduled to take place in Beijing.

4. Japan-Taiwan Forum international conference and symposium

This conference will be held in Taipei and will feature exchanges of views on analysis of the overall situation in East Asia and on prospects for the future of the region, based on research exchanges between IIPS and Taiwan’s Cross-Strait Interflow Prospect Foundation. The topics focused on will include the new world order and security in the East Asian region, and global economic trends and the East Asian economy.

5. Japan-Germany Forum international conference and symposium

For both Japan and Germany, this year marks the fortieth anniversary of the normalization of relations with China. Over the course of the past forty years, the Japan China relationship has made great strides and, in recent years, the two nations have been aiming to promote a strategic reciprocal relationship. The closening ties between Germany and China have also been remarkable--both 2010 and 2011 saw state visits between the two nations, which also issued a joint communique regarding their strategic partnership.
For both Japan and Germany, China is a key player in Asia--both in political and economic terms. Thus both nations hold to the fundamental view that China's stable development is desirable. On the other hand, Germany’s and Japan’s respective relationships with China differ in historical and geographic terms. Based on both this commonality and these differences, discussion at the conference will cover topics such as how best to build and develop a relationship with China, and the possibilities for trilateral cooperation. The conference will be staged jointly by IIPS and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and is scheduled to take place in Tokyo.

6. Japan-USA-Korea High-Level Trilateral international conference and symposium

The objectives of this conference are the promotion and development of mutual understanding with regard to the various issues inherent in trilateral political, economic, and security cooperation; the design of a collision avoidance system for the seas of Northeast Asia; and the design of an enhanced risk management system. Although there are a number of urgent maritime safety issues in Northeast Asia, it is difficult for government officials from Japan, the USA, and China to engage in frank exchanges of views on the various problems. This conference is attended both by academics in this field and by Japanese, US, and Chinese diplomatic and defense officials at the level of director-general of the agencies and ministries concerned or at the vice-ministerial level, who participate in their capacities as private individuals. It is an important forum in which they can attempt to achieve mutual understanding on these various issues. Since 2011, IIPS has been jointly staging this conference with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) as an event for promoting dialogue. This year, the second and third editions of the conference are scheduled to take place in the USA and China.

7. Japan-Korea Friendship Forum international conference

The objective of this forum is to promote mutual understanding between Japan and South Korea through exchanges of views with relatively liberal South Korean expert groups. IIPS began this roundtable dialogue between Japan and South Korea in 2011, and this year the conference is scheduled to take place in Seoul.

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