Japan Up Close: Getting to know Japan with familia faces
Foreign and development policy has over the years been my main fields of research concerning Japan. After working as a foreign correspondent in Tokyo for a few years at the end of the 1970s I went into academic research and wrote a PhD thesis titled “Japan’s Military Export Policy” (1986). At that time there was a lot of discussion on security issues in Japan. These were the days when Japan did not even have a Defence Ministry or a defence minister but only a Self Defence Bureau. The Self Defence Forces had very limited capabilities and could not train with other foreign forces even if the US guaranteed the military defence of Japan. In the early 1980s Japan adopted a “Comprehensive Security” policy with greater emphasis on economic and diplomatic rather than military means. This was in those early days a new holistic approach. My research came to focus on Japanese Official Development Policy (ODA policy), both through several case studies of projects in Asia, but also development as a tool for foreign policy. During those days Japanese development policy, with its heavy focus on loan aid and building infrastructure as well as its close cooperation with Japanese business was heavily criticized by other Western donors. With the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the Japanese pattern does not seem too bad and is inspiring some other European donors that moves in that direction as well.