Takako Hikotani Lecture: Japan’s ‘Value Diplomacy’ and the Rise of China

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Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Thursday, November 21, 20194:00PM - 6:00PMBloor - 1st floor Boardroom/Round Room/Library, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy - 315 Bloor
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Prime Minister Abe, in both his first and second administrations, has emphasized values: democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, in his diplomatic statements. Does the Abe administration’s rhetorical focus on values signify a substantial change in Japanese foreign policy, or is it just window dressing?

In this public talk, Professor Hikotani argues: (1) Japan’s foreign policy was never value-devoid; but the “value” that drove Japan in its foreign policy was different from other western countries in its emphasis; to be less explicit about the value being promoted, and that the value promoted, especially with regard to Asia, emphasized development assistance over democracy promotion. (2) External developments (the rise of China in the region), and internal developments (institutional empowerment of the Prime Minister) led more emphasis in the use of values as slogans in foreign policy. (3) While values are more often used as slogans, the substance of Japan’s foreign policy has not changed much. Democracy and rule of law is mentioned more frequently as the natural bond among Australia, India and Japan, Japan is also careful about not to force Asian countries to choose between China and Japan and to antagonize China along the way.

Speaker Bio:

Takako Hikotani is Gerald L. Curtis Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy at Columbia University. She previously taught at the National Defense Academy of Japan, where she was Associate Professor, and lectured at the Ground Self Defense Force and Air Self Defense Force Staff Colleges, and the National Institute for Defense Studies. Her research focus on civil-military relations and Japanese domestic politics, Japanese foreign policy, and comparative civil-military relations. Her publications (in English) include, “The Japanese Diet and defense policy-making.” International Affairs, 94:1, July, 2018; “Trump’s Gift to Japan: Time for Tokyo to Invest in the Liberal Order,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2017; and “Japan’s New Executive Leadership: How Electoral Rules Make Japanese Security Policy” (with Margarita Estevez-Abe and Toshio Nagahisa), in Frances Rosenbluth and Masaru Kohno eds, Japan in the World (Yale University Press, 2009). She was a Visiting Professional Specialist at Princeton University as Social Science Research Council/Abe Fellow (2010-2011) and Fellow of the US-Japan Leadership Program, US-Japan Foundation (2000- ).

Professor Hikotani received her BA from Keio University, MA from Keio University and Stanford University, and PhD in Political Science from Columbia University, where she was a President’s Fellow.


Takako Hikotani
Gerald L. Curtis Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Columbia University

Main Sponsor

Centre for the Study of Global Japan


Centre for the Study of Global Japan


Asian Institute

The Japan Foundation

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