The Australia-Japan Research Centre in association with leading Japanese research institutes was pleased to offer an exciting opportunity for late-year undergraduate and postgraduate Australian university students with a strong interest in Japan and Australia-Japan relations to undertake research in Japan in 2017.
From March to December 2017, two AJRC fellows spent time in Japan undertaking a research project on a policy-relevant topic in politics and international relations. This included an internship at a policy-relevant organisation.
One of the 2017 AJRC Fellows, Kerri Ng, told us about her research experience in Japan:
“During the three-month fellowship with Asia-Pacific Initiative (API), I was able to further my research on military basing tensions in Japan, whilst also working on several API projects under Mr. Kato Yoichi. In particular, I have been involved in organising the Japan-U.S. Military Statesmen Forum, a channel that brings together individuals with long-term military experience for strategic dialogue between the Japanese Self-Defence Forces (JSDF) and U.S. Forces. Additionally, Mr. Kato has tasked me with creating research briefs on several topics of attention, including China’s sharp power and cybersecurity.
In terms of my research, I focused primarily on polishing up the argument for my dissertation, which investigates how successful the post-Cold War US military realignment in Japan has been in the specific aim of ‘reducing alliance tensions’. API’s support allowed me to seek out and reference several Japanese books that gave primary accounts of how Tokyo interacted with the various sub-national governments in Okinawa and Yamaguchi Prefectures over the terms of the realignment agreements. The key finding of my research is that successful efforts to incorporate local preferences into the agreements facilitated their implementation, because they incentivised key sub-national actors like governors and mayors to cooperate. The cooperation of these actors is necessary even within the hierarchical nature of domestic politics because Japanese domestic law gives them the administrative powers to advance or impede implementation, allowing them to quell or fan base-related tensions.
This fellowship has been a valuable experience, not only in terms of making practical use of my research skills but also in terms of developing my project management skills. As a result of this experience, Mr. Kato has also agreed to take me on as a full-time research assistant, starting from summer 2018. I am very grateful to the Australia-Japan Research Centre and the Japan Foundation for this opportunity to work with the Asia Pacific Initiative, where I have been and will continue to build my skills as well as my connections with the policy-making community in Japan.”
The 2017 AJRC Fellowship was supported by funding from the Japan Foundation, Sydney.