Global Warming and East Asia: The Domestic and International Politics of Climate Change

By Paul G. Harris | Go to book overview

7

Climate change as Japanese foreign policy

From reactive to proactive

Yasuko Kameyama


Introduction

The purpose of this chapter is to examine Japanese decision-making on climate change and related multilateral agreements. Climate change is a global environmental problem that has gained political significance in the last fifteen years. During that time, Japan’s interest in the issue has increased rapidly. It was one of the last countries to enter the climate change debate, but today it continually submits proposals and stimulates international negotiation on the issue. Behind an apparently unified international face lie different Japanese views. In Japan, different actors have interpreted climate change policies in various ways. Some have considered it an environmental problem, others an integral part of energy policies. However, climate change as foreign policy has been the most influential driving force in shaping Japan’s response to climate change.

In this chapter, Japan’s response to the climate change debate in the last fifteen years is divided into five phases. The first phase was from 1985 to early 1989, when Japan was not interested in climate change. Not many people in Japan were aware of the problem or recognized its political significance. The second phase was from late 1989 to May 1992, when climate change entered the political agenda and countries negotiated the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). The third phase was from 1992 to March 1995. There were no major events in this phase at the international level; this was when countries prepared to ratify the FCCC. Ratification allowed Japan to build a fundamental policy basis at home and influenced Japan’s foreign policy, especially at the regional level. The fourth phase was from the First Conference of the Parties to the FCCC (COP1) in March and April 1995 to COP3 in December 1997, when the parties to the FCCC adopted the Kyoto Protocol. This phase involved the negotiation process for the Protocol. The fifth phase which is examined lasted from 1998 to 2002 (the time of this writing).

This chapter considers foreign policy as one of many policies that are planned and implemented by governments, including financial, economic, and environmental policies. Many of these policies have both domestic and international domains. The international domain of each policy is unarguably affected by foreign policy. A country’s decision-making during negotiations at a World Trade

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