Fachgruppensitzung Politik 2019

Dr. Florentine Koppenborg, Bavarian School of Public Policy (HfP), Technical University Munich: The politics of nuclear reactor restarts

This presentation discussed the debates about policy change following a crisis, such as an accident. The March 2011 nuclear accident (3/11) shook Japan’s nuclear power centred energy policy to its core. But the pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) return to government, in December 2012, put an end to phase out debates and there were strong signs of policy continuity. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo pushed for quick restarts of nuclear reactors and his government adopted an energy strategy of continued reliance on nuclear power. Despite political and administrative support, nuclear reactor restarts were progressing slowly, resulting in a share of below two percent nuclear power in 2016 with dim outlooks for a significant future increase. The presentation shed light on this puzzle by investigating the politics of nuclear reactor restarts.

Schattschneider’s (1961) notion of conflict scope, where the number of actors involved determines policy outcomes, framed the comparison of political conflict over nuclear reactors pre and post 2011. The key finding was fundamentally altered conditions for implementing nuclear policy after 3/11. First, a newly established safety agency, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, conducted thorough safety checks in an independent manner, defying expectations of regulatory capture and swift restart approval. Second, a wave of lawsuits targeting nuclear reactor restarts embroiled the judiciary in the conflict. Diverging ruling signalled the end of the courts’ role as gatekeepers for pro-nuclear actors. This expanded conflict scope created a barrier for reactor restarts. As a result, the powerful nuclear power ‘iron triangle’, centred on the LDP, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the nuclear industry, which previously controlled both nuclear policy decision making and implementation, lost its implementation power to an extended conflict scope over nuclear reactors restarts. What the presentation contributed to policy process literature is the insight that seemingly small changes in policy implementation can lead to policy continuity only on paper, highlighting the importance of assessing both decision-making and implementation in assessments of policy change.

[Schattschneider, Elmer E. (1961): The Semi- sovereign People: A Realist’s View of Democracy in America. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.]

16:40-17:20 Anne-Sophie König, M.A. (LMU München) und Stefanie Schwarte, M.A. (LMU München): Conversion of U.S. military bases in Okinawa: The case of Shintoshin, Naha

With the end of the Second World War the Allied Forces constructed military bases on Japanese and German territory. While Germany was divided between the US, France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, Japan only hosted US troops that concentrated on its southernmost territory, the Ryūkyū Islands. When the US officially returned Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty in 1972 military presence in the region was reduced. A bilateral treaty under US President Bill Clinton and the Japanese Prime Minister Ryūtarō Hashimoto set off a second wave of conversions in the mid-1990s. Nonetheless, hopes of the Okinawans that most of the US military would in consequence leave the island were betrayed (Vogt 2018). Until today life in Okinawa is shaped by the presence of the US forces as about one fifth of the area of the main island is leased and used by the US military (MOD 2017: 288). Subsequently in 2013, the two governments agreed upon that the US military forces in Japan should be reorganized and the political goal to relocate several bases and the respective armed forces within Okinawa prefecture was reiterated. Over 70 percent of all US troops in Japan are still stationed on various bases in Okinawa (MOD 2017: 288), but with the current political climate conversion of more military owned land can be anticipated. Considering the public interest in conversion of military land, we examine to what extent local residents, landowners as well as economic actors were included in the decision-making processes concerning the future use of military land returned to civilian use. Further, we investigate the societal and economic effects on the respective municipalities after completed conversions.

The case of Shintoshin, a district of Naha-city, is considered a prime example of successful conversion. The US military used the area as a residential quarter for civil military employees. Through conversion, a diverse and multi-use city center was created by involving a variety of actors in the decision-making process. Through the case of Shintoshin the presenters illustrated the processes and effects of military base conversion. The fieldwork was conducted in 2019 as part of the DAAD-funded project in collaboration with a research team of Ryūkyū University „Militärkonversionen in Deutschland und Okinawa/Japan: Herausforderungen und Potenziale aus politischer, gesellschaftlicher und wirtschaftlicher Sicht“.


  • MOD, Ministry of Defense Japan (2017): Defense of Japan 2017. (=Annual White Paper) http://www.mod.go.jp/e/publ/w_paper/2017.html (Zugriff am 11.10.2019)
  • Vogt, Gabriele (2018): Political Protest from the Periphery: Social Movements and Global Citizenship in Okinawa. In: Chiavacci, David und Julia Obinger (Hrsg.): Social Movements and Political Activism in Contemporary Japan: Re-emerging from Invisibility. London: Routledge (The Mobilization Series on Social Movements, Protest, and Culture), S. 71–92.

Aya Adachi, M.A. (AREA Ruhr / Universität Duisburg-Essen): Linking Differences in Preferential Trade Agreements to Domestic Structures: The Cases of China and Japan

The research question of why Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) differ in form and scope is addressed by analyzing the role of domestic structures. More specifically, different patterns of state- market relations are identified to assess varying degrees of capacity in shaping and participating in different forms and modes of regional economic cooperation. China and Japan are presented as compelling case studies, not only because they are two important and competitive regional initiators of PTAs that have not yet concluded an agreement that include each other but also due to their differences in political systems and state-market relations. The method of process-tracing is applied to identify relevant actors and the institutional settings in which they operate and to qualitatively analyze the causal mechanisms underlying the negotiations and implementation of ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement and the agreements between ASEAN members and Japan between 2000-2015.

The main findings of PhD project introduced in this presentation show that Chinese PTAs reflect Chinese domestic structures consisting of a state-dominated economy but yet highly fragmented state-market relations that require a flexible framework for actors to implement and utilize the agreement. In contrast, the Japanese setting allows interest groups to participate during negotiations more openly: as a result, negotiations take longer but outcomes of the more comprehensive and legally sound Japanese PTAs are more aligned with utilization and complements Japan’s shift from a coordinated market economy towards a more liberal ‘regulatory state’. Furthermore, these two different models of PTAs have regional economic governance implications in the long term: while China is promoting a supplementary and informal approach to regional and global governance, Japan is supporting a regulatory-based governance more comparable to the US or the EU and in line with the WTO and the Washington Consensus. Finally, this dissertation goes beyond conventional discussions of Sino-Japanese rivalry as an explanation for incoherence in regionalism by arguing that the incompatibility of China and Japan’s approaches to regional economic governance are also grounded in domestic structures.