New Publication: Fishing, Human Security, and Transboundary Maritime Challenges in the Pacific Islands Region

I was honored to contribute an article to the recent Security in Context volume on Rethinking Insecurity In The Blue Pacific Region edited by Van Jackson. My article builds on my 2023 article on fishing and the tragedy of the commons in the South China Sea to examine how fishing is closely intertwined with human security considerations in the Pacific Islands region in terms of food security, economic security, personal security, community security, and environmental security. Key areas of vulnerability stem from the heavy reliance of these communities on the oceans and the nature of fish stocks as “common-pool resources,” which creates challenges of monitoring and sustainability. As many of the world’s waters increasingly suffer from overfishing and as climate change endangers ocean ecosystems worldwide, these dynamics are gradually impacting the people of the Pacific Islands. Moreover, intensifying threats in neighboring waters from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and fisheries crimes such as human trafficking also pose risks to the human security of the region.

The edited volume also features articles by Edward Hunt, William Waqavakatoga, Joanne Wallis, Marco de Jong, and Kenneth Kuper.

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Keynote Address: The Quad and Public Goods in an Era of Minilateralism

On March 27, 2024, I had the honor of delivering a keynote address on “The Quad and Public Goods in an Era of Minilateralism: Opportunities and Challenges” at an event hosted by the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore.

My keynote address examined the Quad as a microcosm of regional and global trends, specifically looking at the questions of how small groups of like-minded countries can address complex cross-border problems and whether they can provide public goods while also serving the strategic interests of their members. I began with a discussion of the development of Asia’s regional institutional architecture over the post-World War II period and the evolution of the Quad from the mid-2000s to the present. I then analyzed several key examples of attempts by the Quad to provide public goods in the areas of health, climate, maritime domain awareness, and critical and emerging technologies. My remarks concluded with some opportunities and challenges for the Quad moving forward, as well as implications for countries who are not members of the Quad. The presentation was followed by a discussion moderated by Kei Koga (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore).

This was followed by a panel discussion on “Climate Diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific” featuring Sharon Seah (ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore), Nagisa Shiiba (Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan), Constantino Xavier (Centre for Social and Economic Progress, India), and Karthik Nachiappan (Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore).

Watch the video:

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Talk: Deepening Canada-Japan-US Relations in the Indo-Pacific

On March 12, 2024, I was invited by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and Simon Fraser University to speak at an event on “Deepening Canada-Japan-US Relations in the Indo-Pacific” in Vancouver, Canada. My comments provided a scene setter for the event by giving an overview of several key themes in Japan’s current foreign policy. I was joined on the panel by Yves Tiberghien (University of British Columbia), Tsuyoshi Kawasaki (Simon Fraser University), Adam Liff (Indiana University/Georgetown University), and Vina Nadjibulla (Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada). It was great to be back in Vancouver again—it had been four years since I last visited to give a talk on “Designing Trade Architecture for the Free and Open Indo-Pacific” in January 2020 at another event hosted by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

A full video of the event is available on YouTube (featured above). You can also watch watch a short excerpt from the Q&A portion of the event below:

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New Publication: Avoiding and Exploiting the Tragedy of the Commons: Fishing, Crime, and Conflict in the South China Sea

My article “Avoiding and Exploiting the Tragedy of the Commons: Fishing, Crime, and Conflict in the South China Sea” has been published in International Politics.

What factors have driven the dramatic depletion of fishery resources in the South China Sea, and how have states responded? This article demonstrates that a complex mix of political, economic, and security drivers has led to the fishing crisis in the South China Sea in the fashion of a classic “tragedy of the commons.” Although states have attempted to solve this problem by cooperating through bilateral, regional, and international arrangements, the article argues that states have also sought to exploit the situation as part of “hybrid” or “gray zone” strategies that blur the lines between private and public actors and between law enforcement and military activities.

Specifically, the article identifies four mechanisms through which the conditions associated with the tragedy of the commons enable states to put fishers and fishing regulation on the frontlines of defending their territorial claims in the South China Sea. First, the structure of incentives surrounding fish stocks as a common-pool resource results in overfishing and overcapacity, which means that there is an abundance of fishers in relation to the number of fish that are available to be caught and the amount of time that can productively be spent fishing. Second, this excess of idle fishers presents states with an opportunity to hire these individuals as part-time militia, or, alternatively, to disguise militia members as fishers. Third, the existence of illicit activity related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing creates a need for states to enforce their fishing regulations and protect their fishers, which creates opportunities for states to assert that disputed maritime territory falls under their jurisdiction by apprehending foreign fishing boats. Fourth, the need for effective laws and regulations to combat IUU fishing and to sustainably manage fishery resources grants states an opportunity to strategically enact domestic legislation covering contested waters, resulting in additional occasions for law enforcement activities directed toward IUU fishing that may further establish control and legitimate claims. In short, amid the problems and disorder created by the tragedy of the commons, states can craft strategies that maintain ambiguity about their intentions as well as about the identities and motivations of the non-state actors involved, enabling them to bolster their sovereignty claims by establishing de facto control over contested waters.

There are several ways to access this article:

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Talk: South Korea’s Engagement in Regional Space Institutions

It was a pleasure to be able to visit the University of Hawa‘i at Hilo on September 7–8, 2023 to participate in a conference on the rise of South Korea in the international relations of space. The conference gathered together experts from around the region, including Su-Mi Lee, Saadia Pekkanen, Scott Snyder, Tongfi Kim, Jongseok Woo, and Wongjae Hwang. I presented a paper on South Korea’s engagement in regional space institutions, including the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum, the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization, the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific, and the Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific.

In addition to our private workshop discussions, we participated in a very well-attended in-person public forum on September 7 and an online public forum on September 8. Many thanks to the fantastic leadership of Su-Mi Lee and Saadia Pekkanen in organizing this conference and to the Korean Foundation for its support. The papers from this conference are currently under review at the journal Asian Security.

You can watch the recording of the online public forum on YouTube:

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US-Japan Leadership Program

I was honored to be selected as a first-year delegate for the US-Japan Leadership Program by the United States Japan Foundation. The program brought together 45 delegates for a trip to Kyoto, Hiroshima and Tokyo over July 23-30, 2023, and 115 additional USJLP fellows (alumni) for a festive two-day interclass reunion at the close of the week.

This was truly the most unique group of people I have had the opportunity to meet in my professional life. Drawn from all walks of life, the one constant theme seemed to be the idea of being “change makers” in our respective fields. Over the course of the week, we all had a chance to share our expertise with one another through the course of a variety of panels, workshops, performances, and TED-style talks. I was part of a panel on “Security in a New Era of Great Power Competition” where I talked about challenges related to economic security.

I also appreciated the opportunity to engage in cultural exchange in unique settings. Even as someone who has been to Japan many times, I was treated to new experiences that reminded me of my love for the Japanese culture, including a visit to a lovely shrine, a taiko drumming class, and cooking okonomiyaki on giant grills.

A particularly moving experience was meeting atomic-bomb survivor (hibakusha) Koko Kondo, who not only took the time tell us her story but also walked with us around the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. This is a place that I have been to many times, and to which I have taken my own students on study abroad trips, but having Koko there with us made it a unique experience.

Similarly, we had the opportunity to go on a tour of the National Diet Building, which I have visited several times, but we were lucky to be led by Digital Minister Taro Kono, who is also a member of the USJLP network. He shared some of his personal memories, and we were also joined by another USJLP fellows who play important roles in the Japanese government as bureaucrats and politicians.

All USJLP delegates complete two conferences—one in Japan and one in the US—before “graduating” to fellow status, so I’m looking forward to our second conference in 2024 in Seattle!

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New Publication: The Role of the United Nations in Japanese Foreign Policy and Security Architecture

My chapter “The Role of the United Nations in Japanese Foreign Policy and Security Architecture” was recently published in Non-Western Nations and the Liberal International Order: Responding to the Backlash in the West edited by Shin-Wha Lee and Jagannath Panda. This edited volume is part of the Routledge Studies on Think Asia series.

After joining the United Nations (UN) in 1956, Japan became an active member and one of its top financial contributors. What role does the UN play in Japan’s security policy and in its vision of the emerging global and regional security architecture? This chapter argues that the UN has long been an important part of Japanese foreign policy, and it was particularly central to Japan’s attempts to expand its contributions to international security in response to criticism of its response to the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. During subsequent years, Japan embraced UN peacekeeping operations as a core component of its new security contributions. Given the troubled legacy of Japan’s actions in World War II and its constitutional constraints on military activity, the UN provided an important source of legitimacy for the country’s more proactive security role, allowing it to limit the scope of its involvement and to justify its activities to internal and external audiences. In terms of security architecture, Japan has combined a broad focus on the global security role of the UN with a more specific focus on regional security mechanisms to address issues in Northeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. With respect to Northeast Asia, the US-Japan security alliance plays the primary role in Japan’s thinking about its own national security, particularly in response to potential threats from China and North Korea. Japan has also engaged with broader regional institutions, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and issue-specific regional forums. Most recently, Japan has articulated a broad vision for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” through which it has sought to engage with a wider range of regional actors, and it has pushed for the reinvigoration of the Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue, which brings Japan together with the US, Australia and India. Through this combination of regional and global security institutions, Japan has sought to address a variety of traditional and non-traditional security challenges, as well as to influence norms and attitudes towards its own contributions to international security.

There are several ways to access my chapter:

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New Publication: From Trade Laggard to Trade Leader: Japan’s Role in Countering the Backlash Against Globalization

My chapter “From Trade Laggard to Trade Leader: Japan’s Role in Countering the Backlash Against Globalization” was recently published in Non-Western Nations and the Liberal International Order: Responding to the Backlash in the West edited by Hiro Katsumata and Hiroki Kusano. This edited volume is part of the Routledge Advances in International Relations and Global Politics series.

In recent years, the world has witnessed a significant backlash against globalization. However, Japan is a puzzling outlier: while it shares many characteristics with countries like the United States and the United Kingdom that are experiencing waves of populism and protectionism, it has not followed their trajectory. Instead, Japan has become a leader on trade issues, defending the liberal international economic order. My chapter argues that a combination of external and internal factors has led Japan to possess both the motivation and the flexibility to take action to stabilize the international status quo. Externally, the Japanese government perceives benefits from the liberal international economic order that it wishes to maintain. Internally, Japan’s economic and social policies have limited the number of domestic actors who have been negatively affected by globalization, and political reforms have strengthened the power of the prime minister vis-à-vis protectionist interests. My chapter also demonstrates that Japan has employed a mix of strategies to counter the backlash against globalization, including direct persuasion, signaling commitment, acting as a surrogate for the US, negotiating new trade agreements, and supporting existing agreements and institutions.

There are several ways to access my chapter:

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New Publication: Governing the Global Commons: Challenges and Opportunities for US-Japan Cooperation

I’m thrilled to announce that my new edited volume Governing the Global Commons: Challenges and Opportunities for US-Japan Cooperation has been published by the German Marshall Fund of the United States. In recent years, the governance regimes of the global commons have faced intensifying challenges due to shifts in the international political, economic, and security environment. In particular, the maritime, outer space, and cyber domains—areas that are crucial for both military and commercial purposes—are under stress due to the rise of China, advances in technology, the multiplication of state and non-state actors operating in the commons, and the emergence of behavior such as gray zone tactics that are difficult to regulate. The result is an increasing crowded and contested set of global commons.

The United States and Japan have been drawn closer together by these issues—by their common interests in maintaining a rules-based international system as well as by their shared values. Both countries stand to benefit from strengthening the governance of the global commons in ways that will continue to support their own security and prosperity. Both countries also recognize that there is need for reform of existing regimes, and in some cases, construction of new ones. This volume brings together US and Japanese experts on the maritime, outer space, and cyber domains to examine the challenges that both countries identify in the global commons and to provide insights as to how they can jointly address these challenges. What are the key pillars of the existing governance regimes that need to be maintained in each of the three domains, and where are the key areas for reform? In cases where regimes are nascent, what are the best ways to shape their rules and norms? Where are the areas of convergence and divergence in US and Japanese perspectives on governance? What scope do policy makers and experts in the United States and Japan see for bilateral cooperation, and how can bilateral cooperation produce global change?

Part 1 comprises my paper, “Emerging Challenges to Governance in the Maritime, Outer Space, and Cyber Domains and Opportunities for US-Japan Leadership,” which provides an overarching analysis of challenges across the maritime, outer space, and cyber domains. It draws on interviews, primary materials, and academic research, as well as insights from experts who attended a workshop convened by The German Marshall Fund of the United States in May 2022. The resultant analysis reveals clear and persistent differences in the governance regimes of these domains, reflecting their different stages of maturity and the varying nature of the spaces and resources that they seek to govern. However, despite the many differences that exist across these three domains, there are also striking commonalities. In each of these domains, central issues of access to space and to resources continue to be debated, reflecting persistent tensions in stakeholders’ preference for enclosure or openness. In addition to challenges to national security across the three domains, problems related to sustainability and human rights are also increasingly discussed.

This analysis also clearly demonstrates that there are strong synergies in the values and interests of Japan and the United States in the maritime, outer space, and cyber domains. While differences in viewpoints exist between the two countries, there is potential for cooperation, coordination, and consultation on a wide range of matters. In the maritime domain, the paper discusses the potential to address issues related to freedom of navigation, rules for maritime zones, regime legitimacy, fisheries management, human rights at sea, and green shipping. In the outer space domain, it examines space situational awareness, space traffic management, space debris, anti-satellite tests, and space resources. In the cyber domain, it addresses the conflicting norms of openness versus enclosure, privacy and data flows, artificial intelligence, cybercrime, human rights and digital authoritarianism, cognitive warfare, cyber defense norms, and sustainability. While this list of issues is not exhaustive, it offers a starting point from which to begin thinking holistically about governance regimes across the three domains, which is further discussed in the conclusion of this paper.

Part 2 of the volume contains six policy briefs, which examine specific issues in a single domain. Beginning with the maritime domain, John Bradford discusses ways that the coast guards of the United States and Japan can become agents to improve global maritime governance, while Kyoko Hatakeyama focuses specifically on the importance of supporting governance related to freedom of navigation. Moving on to the outer space domain, Saadia Pekkanen examines developing state practice for the governance of outer space resources, and Setsuko Aoki emphasizes the importance of banning direct ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) tests for the safety and sustainability of the domain. Finally, with respect to the cyber domain, James Lewis discusses emerging structures of governance, and Motohiro Tsuchiya explores the emerging challenge of cognitive warfare.

Overall, the two parts of this edited volume demonstrate the importance of the global commons to the United States and Japan and the potential for these two countries to work together to shape a rules-based international order that creates a more sustainable basis for their long-term security and prosperity. In addition to formulating joint tactical responses to specific challenges in the global commons, promoting good governance is an essential part of ensuring that their spaces and resources remain available to state and non-state actors around the world. Discussions of principles, rules, norms, and decision-making procedures must be put at the forefront of diplomacy. While the United States and Japan cannot solve the problems of global commons governance on their own, they have the capacity and influence to make a significant contribution. Moreover, US-Japan bilateral cooperation can serve as a building block for broader regional and international coalitions to achieve their shared governance goals.

Download the edited volume

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Talk: Promoting Good Governance in the Global Commons: The US, Japan, and Beyond

On November 15, The German Marshall Fund of the United States hosted an online event on “Promoting Good Governance in the Global Commons: The US, Japan, and Beyond.” The global commons – areas beyond the sovereign jurisdiction of any single state – have grown increasingly crowded and contested in recent decades due to changes in the political, economic, and security environment.

Thanks to the generous support of the United States-Japan Foundation, I have spent the past year leading a project examining challenges to governance in the maritime, outer space, and cyberspace domains and opportunities for the United States, Japan, and other countries to cooperate to strengthen their rules and norms. The project brought together leading experts from the US and Japan, and this webinar showcased some of our findings, featuring myself, John Bradford (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies), Saadia Pekkanen (University of Washington), and Motohiro Tsuchiya (Keio University). The discussion was moderated by Tobias Harris (GMF).

Our new report on “Governing the Global Commons: Challenges and Opportunities for US-Japan Cooperation” will be released in November.

Watch the video on YouTube

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