My PhD dissertation aims to understand how the European Community (EC)-Japan bilateral trade relations came to life from the 1980s to the early 1990s. In other words, it aims to analyse the mechanism of how EC-Japan bilateral trade relations differentiated from existing bilateral trade relations between EC Member States and Japan in the period. My dissertation analyses this mechanism both from a short and long-time horizon by employing the following conceptual frameworks: external perceptions, rational and ideational two-level games, and ideational and historical institutionalism. Concerning the case studies, it specifically focuses on the EC’s bilateral trade negotiations with Japan in the 1980s and the early 1990s: the Japanese voluntary export moderation (1983) and the EC-Japan automobile arrangement (1991). Empirically, the Japanese case is important because the EC’s bilateral CCP vis-à-vis Japan dynamically changed from a patchwork of EC-level and EC Member States-level trade measures to a more cohesive policy in this period. Theoretically, although existing literature focuses more on internal characteristics of the European Union (EU) for third countries’ recognition of the EU, my dissertation points out the importance of external perception changes in the recognition process. In addition, despite the overwhelming rational choice approach in EU trade politics, it emphasises the important combination of rational calculation with policy idea in a two-level game analysis. Moreover, despite existing literature’s stronger focus on a-historical synchronic causality in EU trade politics, my dissertation shows that the past trade negotiations between the EU and third countries greatly influence the subsequent trade negotiations.
During my fieldwork in the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in Tokyo, Japan (25-29 July 2022), I was able to consult 34 diplomatic files about EC-Japan trade relations from the 1970s to the 1980s, and I took pictures of their documents as the data for my PhD project. Firstly, these files include detailed documents about regular meetings between the EC and Japan, such as the EC-Japan High-Level Consultations and the EC-Japan Ministerial Meetings. In addition, I investigated some related documents on multilateral trade negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), specifically those on the GATT Uruguay Round Negotiations. In addition to these institutionalised meetings and negotiations, I was able to consult interesting documents on daily communications between the EC and the Japanese Government. For example, these documents concern visits by Japanese politicians and high-level officials to the EC and Western European Countries, such as the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Vice Foreign Minister. Moreover, I consulted documents on visits by the EC’s politicians and high-level officials to Japan, such as the Vice President, the Commissioner, and the Director-General of the European Commission. Secondly, the files in the archive also include documents about internal meetings of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, e.g., meetings among the Japanese Ambassadors to Western Europe.
Thanks to these documents, I was able to open up a new pathway for understanding Japanese perceptions toward the EC during bilateral trade negotiations in the 1980s. As an achievement of my fieldwork, I wrote a paper on the Japanese voluntary export moderation (1983), and it was submitted to Asia Europe Journal on 17 October 2022.
My fieldwork was very valuable. In addition to that, I am planning to conduct another fieldwork in order to consult more documents on the EC-Japan automobile arrangement (1991). This is because related documents on the arrangement are not yet open to the public.
More about the UACES Scholarship: The scholarships are travel bursaries designed to provide mobility to existing postgraduate students so that they can undertake research in another country. The next application deadline is 20 October 2023.