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Japan and Regional Integration Dominoes: Golden Opportunity or Another Political Failure?
Region: Asia
Theme: Economics
Published August 18, 2014
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The re-election of Abe Shinzo as prime minister has led to a drastic change in the economic landscape of Japan through the implementation of “Abenomics.” Abe’s decision to promote monetary easing as a tool to help Japan overcome deflation, which had stalled the Japanese economy for more than a decade, greatly contributed to a 50 percent surge in the Nikkei stock index and to a nearly 20 percent depreciation of the yen against the U.S. dollar by the end of year 2013. A key remaining element of Abenomics is to participate in a regional integration framework and utilize it as an effective vehicle to push a domestic reform agenda, including agricultural liberalization, while expanding export markets for further economic growth. Several such frameworks have emerged since 2010, and Japan has entered negotiations in all of them, presenting a golden opportunity for its trade and investment. With ASEAN aiming to establish an economic community in 2015, four frameworks are being negotiated in East Asia and the Pacific, including the three-way CJK FTA, the 16-nation RCEP, and a U.S.-led TPP. Japan also began FTA negotiations with the EU in 2013, which has entered into TTIP negotiations with the United States, possibly disseminating trade and investment policy norms based on those of the developed countries.

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