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Japan Program Interview with Kei Koga: Transcript

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On March 7, 2017, Japan Program Intern Peter Wyckoff interviewed Kei Koga, author of “Toward Effective Institution-Building in Peacebuilding” in Peacebuilding and Japan: Views from the Next Generation, the Japan Program’s newest publication. Go to Facebook to watch the videos of Peter’s interviews with authors Hiromi Nagata Fujishige and Nobuhiro Aizawa.

Peter Wyckoff, Japan Program Intern: Hi, everyone! Welcome back to our video series, where we are interviewing the authors from our most recent publication on Japan called Peacebuilding and Japan: Views from the Next Generation. I’m here with Koga-san, who is Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Nanyang Technological University. He has published a lot on East Asia security, U.S. and Japanese foreign policies, the U.S.-Japan alliance, and ASEAN as a whole. Previously he was a Japan-U.S. partnership fellow at the Research Institute for Peace and Security in Tokyo and a postdoctoral fellow in international studies at the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School. Thank you so much for joining us.

Kei Koga: Thank you very much.

PW: My first question is just very generally about the chapter you wrote for the book. What’s it about?

KK: What I wrote about in my chapter is the Japanese peacekeeping efforts in Asia and beyond. What I’m actually trying to talk about in this chapter is that Japan has lots of things it could contribute even though Japan also has the limitations on the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces. But what I found out when I was doing the study was that Japan did a lot of socio-economic development, and this actually helps the Asian countries to lay the foundation of the socio-economic infrastructure. And also, through this kind of development, Japanese civilians created personal ties with the leaders in the post-conflict areas, and this helps diffuse the tensions. So that is what I wrote about.

PW: Awesome. So while you were working on this chapter, did your thoughts on the issue you were working on shift?

KK: Yes, a lot, because at first I was trying to find our how Japan could overcome the limitation it has, which is, as I said, the limitation on the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces, and the current opposition to reinterpretation of Article 9, collective self-defense, could help overcoming this challenge. Again, what I found out was that there are many things Japan can contribute a lot, and even if they face some of the limitations, they can do more. So instead of focusing on the limitations, it would probably be better to focus on the comparative advantage Japan has. This is the kind of argument I made, and that shifted my focus.

PW: Great. So, last question: What are some of the things you’re working on outside of this project? What are you looking at doing in the next couple years?

KK: My area of study right now is on Southeast Asia, ASEAN. I’m trying to find out how the relationship between Japan and Southeast Asia, and between the other countries in Southeast Asia, could be strengthened. One of the areas that is usually focused on with so-called non-traditional security, and I guess this kind of non-traditional security could be a way to actually strengthen cooperation. And this actually includes peacebuilding efforts as well. Many Southeast Asian countries are interested in strengthening their skill in peacebuilding, so maybe if there is some kind of collaboration or cooperation between Japan and Southeast Asia that could be helpful for the future of the Japan-Southeast Asia relationship.

PW: Makes a lot of sense. So, thank you so much for doing this. And again, you can get a copy of our report online at and also view the entire event from yesterday.

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