Current Institutional Affiliation
Dean and Professor, Political Science and Legal Studies/ College of Arts and Sciences, Suffolk University

Maria is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor in the Government Department at Suffolk University in Boston. She served as Associate Dean for Global Initiatives and Interdisciplinary Studies, Political Science Chair and Director of East Asian Studies at Villanova University.  Other past appointments include nonresident visiting researcher at the International Monetary Fund; Council on Foreign Relations/Hitachi International Affairs Fellow; research scholar at Stanford University’s Institute for International Studies (now the Freeman-Spogli Institute), the Asia/Pacific Research Center, and the Stanford Japan Center-Research in Kyoto. She received her A.B. in Human Biology with Honors from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University. Her research focuses on the mechanisms of financial liberalization; the politics of development aid; policy financing; and banking and regulatory reform.

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Associate Professor, Political Science, Villanova University
Investing Relations: Japan's Financial Diplomacy and the Pursuit of Economic and Security Interests

Since the end of World War II Japan has used economic aid expansively to pursue national security, economic and diplomatic aims. Many observers have noted that Japan's considerable and comprehensive economic aid to developing countries has played an important role in the pursuit of both public and private aims, complementing private firms' foreign direct investments. However, in stark contrast to the well-developed scholarship on both ODA (official development assistance) and private investment, little work exists on Japan's use of other official financial assets: most significantly, the use of export credits and guarantees that are often viewed as strategic instruments for gaining access to markets, raw materials, food and energy resources. This omission is surprising, given that in 2011, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) which is Japan's main export credit agency, had outstanding loans and guarantees totaling over 109 billion USD (comparable to the outstanding loans of IBRD/World Bank). This research project will look at the instruments, objectives and political institutions of Japan's financial diplomacy and compare changes over time (historically) and space (explicitly, with the United States, Britain, Germany and China). It will make extensive use of historical and archival research, conduct process tracing in case studies to identify causal links, and employ statistical analysis to confirm and describe the relationships between official finance and policy aims. The project aims to answer several puzzles. First, how does the use of export credits further mercantilism and state agency in a world that has largely liberalized both trade and finance? Second, how does official financing interact and coincide with the use of ODA? (Are they complementary? Are they substitutable?) This interaction is an unexplored area, as far as I know, in the vast literature on ODA or the much smaller literature on export credits. If significant similarities and complementarities are present, this will help confirm the widely held notion that Japan's ODA is economically strategic. If in contrast, the patterns are dissimilar, a case can be made that ODA is motivated by other strategic, or perhaps humanitarian considerations. Third, the research comparatively traces both how domestic politics and historical factors lead to the creation of unique institutional frameworks for financial diplomacy, and how changes in domestic politics affect that institutional framework, leading to adjustments in how policy is implemented at the international level. This research has implications for understanding a non-traditional facet of security and diplomacy that explicitly address the relationship between ODA and export credits in Japan and other countries. A second Abe Program theme is addressed as well since the actions of Japan and other countries are worth observing in light of China's own extensive use of official financing of investments and procurements. As East Asia and other regions adjust to, among other things, a more assertive foreign policy pursued by China, such questions of diplomatic strategy are well worth exploring.