On March 7, 2017, Japan Program Intern Peter Wyckoff interviewed Rie Takezawa, author of “Japan’s Peacebuilding in Africa” 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: Hi! Welcome back to our series on the launch of our new book, Peacebuilding and Japan: Views from the Next Generation. I’m here with Takezawa-san, who is one of the authors of the chapters in the book, focusing specifically on Japan’s peacebuilding in Africa. She is a researcher at the Institute for International Policy Studies and an adjunct lecturer at Musashino University on African politics. She is also a PhD candidate studying international relations at Hitotsubashi University, and a member of the Young Leaders program at Pacific Forum CSIS. She previously served as a researcher at the Intelligence and Analysis Service in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, focusing on sub-Saharan African countries. Thank you so much for being with us.
Rie Takezawa: Thank you so much for having me today. Thank you.
PW: So, to start us off, if you could just give us a general overview of what your chapter in the book is about…
RT: My chapter is focusing on Japan’s peacebuilding policy in the African region, and my research question is very simple: What is Japan’s policy? To summarize my conclusion, it is that Japan’s peacebuilding policy in Africa is peacebuilding through economic development and growth. Now, this is very unique compared to other donors and countries in the sense that it’s focusing on long-term economic development. The reason as to why Japan developed such a unique policy is that Japan was working within its constraints. What I mean is that it has restrictions on dispatching its Self-Defense Forces overseas, so they had to focus more on the conventional development and how that can commit towards peacebuilding.
PW: Great, wonderful. Can you tell us a little bit about how your thoughts on this shifted as you wrote this chapter?
RT: Yes, actually it shifted a lot. So, when I began writing the chapter, I was trying to focus more on the comparative advantages of Japan’s peacebuilding policy. However, as I went on with my research, I realized that since there are so many conflicts in the African region right now, and unfortunately some are even recurring, peacebuilding is a very important international task. So obviously Japan has to think about how it can commit more and how it can meet the needs of the international societies. I was also focusing more on the challenges. That’s how my thoughts shifted.
PW: Great. And as a last question, you said you’re a PhD candidate. Can you tell us a little more about your dissertation and how this fits in?
RT: Yes, my dissertation is actually based on a very similar topic, so it was a wonderful experience to be part of this project. I got very useful feedback from the audience when I was here last October and also from yesterday’s sessions. Those will definitely be included in my dissertation. So, yes, I have to go back to Japan and finish my project.
PW: Good luck with that!
RT: Thank you so much!
PW: We’re so thankful to Takezawa-san for being here with us for the launch of this report. You can find it online at www.stimson.org and also watch the video of yesterday’s event online. Thanks so much.