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  5. Why Did the Democratic Administration Fail to Persuade Opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP): The Political Science of the TPP

2013 Vol.1
Why Did the Democratic Administration Fail to Persuade Opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP): The Political Science of the TPP

2013/01/01

The public’s interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has grown rapidly since October 2010 when the then Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced the government was considering its participation in the TPP negotiation, calling it the “open country” policy of the Heisei period. However, as of 28 December 2012, Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiation has not been realized despite the fact that the successor to Prime Minister Kan, former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, was also a proponent of Japan’s participation. This paper aims to clarify what has stalled Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiation and explains the reasons from the standpoint of collective action and commitment. Both Prime Minister Kan and Prime Minister Noda supported Japan’s participation in the TPP. However, their approval rating was low, and it was expected that a lower-house election would be held after mid-2011. Therefore, in trying to win votes in the election with as much certainty as possible, politicians had to increase their reliance on industry groups capable of collecting votes for them and thus give consideration to benefits for such small groups. It seems that the low approval rating of the both Prime Ministers and the anticipation of an election made the collective action problem more likely to arise. Proponents of the TPP argue that the TTP allows Japan to claim a position at the negotiation table. However, opponents and the general public tend to consider that Japan cannot disagree with the United States in conducting diplomacy, and for this reason, they expect that the promise of Japan claiming a position in the TPP negotiation will not be realized and thus have no incentive to change their mind (the commitment problem). It is concluded that Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiation was not realized because the situation in 2010 through 2012 brought about both the collective action problem and the commitment problem.

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