Renegotiating Japan’s ‘Post-War Bargains’

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Wednesday 19 October 2022




Yusuke Ishihara


Bell School marketing team

The 1970s witnessed significant changes to the post-war international order: the rise and fall of U.S.-Soviet détente, Sino-U.S. rapprochement, the crisis of the Bretton-Woods system/the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and shifts to a multilateral landscape in East Asia.

In this research seminar, Yusuke Ishihara shows that Japan made major and important decisions on these geopolitical, economic, and regional-political processes. His PhD research explains the evolution of Japan’s post-war international standing, including how and why the vital post-war bargains that were embraced in the 1950s, when Japan was occupied by the U.S., were renegotiated by Tokyo during the 1970s.

To this end, Ishihara analyses four major renegotiations in the 1970s:

  • Japan-U.S. economic relations: the Smithsonian Agreement, the Group of Seven, and steel/automobile disputes
  • Japan-Southeast Asian relations: the Fukuda Doctrine and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council
  • Japan-U.S. security relations: the expanded rationale for the alliance and comprehensive security
  • Japan-China relations: diplomatic normalisation and Japan’s aid to China

While previous researchers have focused selectively on one of these subjects, this research features a cross-sectoral analysis. The previous compartmentalised approaches have analytical limits since they cannot examine common overarching questions and larger trends of Japan’s foreign policy. They also cannot fully address big-picture questions, such as how Japan’s foreign policy decisions, as a whole, influenced regional and international order transitions in the 1970s and beyond.

To move beyond such compartmentalisation, Ishihara uses a conceptual framework centred on bargains. He shows that the domestic and international contestation that emerged across many foreign policy areas stemmed from the success of the post-war bargains in achieving their original purpose: the fostering of Japan’s national economic development. This success created a conundrum for Japanese leaders: the post-war bargains had proved remarkably effective—and thus leaders were wary of altering them—but by the 1970s there was a recognised need to renegotiate their terms. While Japan had difficulty adjudicating between these two ideas, the U.S. and East Asian countries expressed their growing discomfort with the economic success of the post-war bargains and criticised Japan’s security, economic and regional policies. This research shows how and why such domestic and international contestation was ultimately overcome through the renegotiation of the post-war bargains. By the beginning of the 1980s, the mission of the post-war bargains was expanded to include promoting Japan’s responsibilities and contributions to international society.


Yusuke Ishihara is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He is also a Senior Fellow at the National Institute for Defence Studies, Ministry of Defence, Japan. His research interests include Japan’s contemporary foreign relations in the Asia Pacific region, and the postwar history of Japan’s foreign and security policy. He completed a Bachelor of Law at Keio University (2007) and Master of Arts (Strategic Studies) at the Australian National University (2009).

This is an online event. Details of the zoom link will be sent in the confirmation email upon registration.

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