Changing Commercial Policy in Japan During 1985–2010

Masahiro Kawai, Shujiro Urata
JEL codes: 
ADBI Working Paper Series

In this paper we examine the changing nature of Japans commercial policy over the last 25 years while reviewing Japans changing structure of trade, FDI and economy that underlay policy changes. We argue that until the late 1990s Japan adopted a two-track approach of relying on multilateral liberalization under the GATT/WTO and open regionalism under Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on the one hand and on the bilateral trade relationship with the US on the other. Although the Japan-US bilateralism sometimes resulted in managed trade and encountered negative perceptions of the US approach in Japan, overall, it had a positive impact on the Japanese economy in opening domestic markets through various reforms and deregulation measures. Japans more recent commercial policy focuses on bilateral and plurilateral economic partnership agreements particularly withbut not limited toEast Asian economies. We argue that agricultural sector liberalization is key to the further integration of Japan with the Asian and global economies.