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Globalism Ascendant, Regionalism Stagnant: Japan’s Response to the Global Financial Crisis

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Japan’s response to the global financial crisis has emphasized global initiatives and downplayed the regional agenda, in sharp contrast with its approach to the Asian financial crisis. This rebalancing in Japan’s economic diplomacy reflects the greater political space that it has enjoyed at the global level since its long-held views on the benefits of flexible International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending practices and controls on volatile capital flows became mainstream. Meanwhile, at the regional level Japan faces stiff competition from China in shaping the regional integration agenda and unchartered territory in coleading a multilateral Chiang Mai Initiative. Despite its enhanced profile, Japan’s new globalism is uneven: it has made a very significant financial contribution to expand the IMF’s resources and to restore trade financing; but Japan has not played a major role in the debate surrounding the most pressing issues of a future financial architecture, such as tackling global imbalances and promoting foreign exchange-rate cooperation. Japan’s muted voice, despite its large financial commitments, reflects its difficult adaptation to the G20 summitry process, as well as political volatility at home, which prevents it from developing measures to deal with the global downturn.

Affiliations: 1: School of International Service, American University 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20016 USA, Email: solis@american.edu

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