Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University
Comparative Study of Regional Institutions for Democratic Defense: Seeking Methods for Regional Collaboration in Asia

Democracy has weakened internationally over the past decade. The spread of populism has weakened democratic institutions in every part of the globe. This has not only led democratic great powers such as the US and the UK to be increasingly inward-looking, their interest in international democracy support has also shrunk. Furthermore, countries such as China and Russia have been increasingly manipulating information through media, academia, think tanks, and governments around the world to formulate pro-China and pro-Russia opinion internationally, to attack democracy, and to spread authoritarian ways of governance. Asia has been the world region facing the most serious deterioration of democracy. Governments in the region have strengthened control over the media and NGOs, shrinking space for the activities of domestic NGOs, banning international funding for domestic NGOs, pushing international NGOs out of their country, weakening or forcing the demise of opposition parties, and closing down independent media outlets. They create laws for such control, shifting from the "rule of law," which is one of the core tenets of democratic governance, to "rule by law" based on their political leaders' arbitrary decisions. The spread of populism has also exacerbated religion-based and ethnically based discriminations. It is imperative to defend democracy in the region in this era of democratic retreat. Asian democracies such as India, Indonesia, Japan, and Taiwan began engaging in defending democracy abroad in the mid-2000s. However, not only does the strong sovereignty norm lead the Asian democracies to refrain from naming and shaming, applying economic sanction measures, and supporting pro-democratic civil society actors of recipient countries, but also regional frameworks for democratic defense have been extremely weak and indeed almost nonexistent . While the Bali Democracy Forum (BDF) was created in 2008 as an inter-governmental forum, it only facilitates communication about democracy among regional countries, and does not function to defend democracy. Although other networks such as the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) and the East Asia Democracy Forum exist as well, they not only have not involved governmental actors, they have limited their scope of activity to fostering information-sharing among pro-democracy actors. The lack of regional institutions for democratic defense in Asia is intriguing when compared to Latin America. Although Latin America has traditionally emphasized sovereignty and has weak democratic development, there are regional institutions to defend and promote democracy such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and UNASUR (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas). Through comparative studies of Asia and Latin America, the proposed project aims to examine 1) factors and actors that foster/inhibit regional frameworks for democratic defense, and 2) methods to promote fostering factors and actors in the Asian region. I will compare OAS and BDF as the main cases, and UNASUR, ASEAN, and ADN as minor cases. This study will mainly use the process-tracing method with the use of primary and secondary documents, in addition to interviews and congruence analysis. The main sites of research will be Washington DC and Bali, Indonesia, which house headquarters of OAS and BDF, respectively.