Seminar Series

Economic Security versus Japan’s Regional Integration Strategy: Assessing Private Sector Responses to Changing Incentives

Thursday 18 January 2024 | 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. (JST)
Zoom Webinar
  • Kristin Vekasi Associate Professor, Depart of Political Science and School of Policy and International Affairs, University of Maine
  • Kenneth Mori McElwain Professor, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo

Japan’s international business practices face simultaneous and opposing trends: a general increase in patterns of diversification of trade and investment away from China and a deepening reliance on China in key sectors. State policy reflects this bifurcation. The state-led liberal strategy promotes regional economic integration (including with China), while the economic security approach focuses on supply chain resilience, critical technologies, and diversification away from China. This research investigates the economic and political pressures and incentives facing Japanese firms, and evaluates “derisking” versus “regional integration” strategies. Sectoral-level analysis finds no evidence suggesting that full-scale “decoupling” is currently occurring or likely to occur in the near future, but there is private-sector diversification in the Asia-Pacific region. Japanese business strongly supports globalization, and it is unlikely that the Japanese government will broadly implement policies that harshly restrict business opportunities with China. However, the analysis also indicates that industries under threat of economic coercion or severe disruption respond to government incentives and are actively diversifying.


Kristin Vekasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and School of Policy and International Affairs at the University of Maine. Her research focuses on trade and investment strategies in changing geopolitical environments, and the political risk management of supply chains. She specializes in Northeast Asia, and has spent years conducting research in China, Japan, and South Korea. Her book Risk Management Strategies of Japanese Companies in China (Routledge 2019) explores how Japanese multinational corporations mitigate political risk in China. Vekasi received her PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Prior to joining the faculty at University of Maine, she taught at New College of Florida, was a visiting Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo and a Fulbright Fellow at Tohoku University. She is a member of the Mansfield Foundation’s US-Japan Network for the Future, and a 2019 National Asia Research Program Fellow with the National Bureau of Asian Research where she is also a nonresident fellow. In 2021-2022, she was an academic associate at the Harvard University US-Japan Program.