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No. 32 — August 21, 1998

 

U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS SINCE 1948: A PRELIMINARY ANALYSTS OF EVENTS DATA* by Arthur J. Alexander

Summary

One way to characterize U.S.-Japan relations is by analyzing the daily reporting of events generated by a comprehensive news service. The University of Maryland Global Event-Data System project has constructed an extensive, computer-based compilation of world events from the daily Reuters international news wire. Since this source provides thorough coverage that is publicly available and global in scope, it is free of many of the biases and limitations inherent in the editorial selection and the geographical focus of other media reporting on U.S.-Japan relations. The Japan Economic Institute acquired a data base describing all U.S.-Japan events from 1979 through 1996 and combined it with data from 1948 to 1978 from the related Conflict and Peace Data Bank to assemble records of 3,963 events over a 49-year period.

Analysis of these events shows that in terms of sheer numbers, bilateral relations have come to be dominated by economic developments. The annual total of both political and economic events was positively related to U.S. imports from Japan and negatively tied to American exports to that country. An index of cooperation and conflict was similarly linked to trade flows, with greater imports leading to a more conflictual relationship. Despite a gradual decline in the average cooperation measure, the overwhelming number of events remained cooperative.

Political and economic cooperation/conflict are mutually influential. Good — and bad — relations in one sphere rub off on the other. Therefore, frictions arising in economic affairs tended to have a corrosive effect on political interactions. The party affiliation of the president had some impact on the frequency of bilateral activities. A Democrat in the White House was associated with more economic and political events than a Republican incumbent, but party affiliation was not connected at all to the scale of cooperation and conflict.

*This research was supported by an Abe Fellowship through a grant administered by the Social Science Research Council, New York, New York.

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Weekly Review

FOREIGN MINISTER PITCHES ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN IN WASHINGTON by Barbara Wanner

Japan's Foreign minister is not usually the lead salesperson for Tokyo's domestic programs. Nevertheless, given the global impact of the country's recession, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura found himself cast in that role during August 14 meetings in Washington with Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen. Responding to Ms. Albright's urging that Japan take "quick and decisive action" to jump-start its economy, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi's new diplomatic chief declared that the government "now is putting its whole energy into the revitalization of Japan's economy, the most important issue of the moment."

 

OBUCHI SETS FY 1999 BUDGET COURSE; BANK-RESCUE BILLS HIT ROUGH SEAS by Jon Choy

The three-week-old administration of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi continues to endure a baptism by fire as its policies are challenged by political opponents, foreign policymakers and financial market forces. Hoping to infuse a measure of vitality into the economy, the prime minister has issued unusual guidelines for drawing up the FY 1999 general account budget. While a spokesperson pointed to this novel approach as a concrete sign of the new government's determination to attack the country's economic problems, the reaction of outside analysts to the budget numbers being floated has been cool.

 

JAPAN PLEDGES MORE AID FOR INDONESIA; WILL FOCUS ODA ON SOUTHEAST ASIA IN FY 1999 by Eric Altbach

In response to increasingly desperate calls from Jakarta, Tokyo has agreed to provide an extra ¥187 billion ($1.4 billion at ¥135=$1.00) in official development assistance to Indonesia in FY 1998. Japanese officials promised the new financial help as part of a broader package of $7.9 billion in new aid commitments from a consortium of international donors that includes the United States and the World Bank. The pledges were made in late July during a two-day meeting in Paris of the Consultative Group on Indonesia, organized by the World Bank.

 

WHITE HOUSE, INDUSTRY MUTE CRITICISM OF AUTOMOTIVE TRADE PACT RESULTS by Susan MacKnight

A Clinton administration itching to pick a fight with Japan over trade agreement compliance presumably would have to look no further than the August 1995 transpacific automotive trade pact. Three years into the controversial five-year accord, most of the goals that the White House unilaterally set for the arrangement are out of reach. Washington, however, is not going to force the issue, even though such a move would give credibility to the trade policy priority assigned enforcement of market-opening agreements.

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