The Future of Capitalist Democracy UK–Japan Perspectives
Domestic political backlashes against inequality, corporate malfeasance and the stagnation of real incomes over the past decade are being reinforced by uncertainties about the durability of the post-Cold War international order. Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, China’s strategic and territorial claims in the South China and East China seas, the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Syrian civil war, the migrant crisis affecting Europe and the Mediterranean, and evolving threats to cyber security – all constitute serious challenges to the rules of the global game.
A natural, and perhaps inevitable, question that emerges in the light of such concerns is: ‘How can the United Kingdom and Japan work together to deal with these issues?’ This, however, is a question more appealing to diplomats than to scholars or journalists. We are sceptical about the idea that bilateral cooperation can play a significant role in these matters, even if we are not at all opposed to it. Rather, we feel – and our feeling was confirmed by the September discussions – that what is most valuable is to enhance British and Japanese awareness and understanding of each other’s perspectives and, in particular, of the differences in emphasis or priority seen in the two countries, and thereby to help each other promote solutions more effectively in multilateral forums.
This essay aims to contribute to that process. There is plainly a great deal of overlap and agreement between Japan and the UK on many issues. There is always a lot that each country can learn from the other. But it is in the differences – whether of perspective, of experience or of emphasis – that the most important learnings lie. This essay will therefore explore differences more zealously than it seeks similarities.
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