This study asks why South Korea could step toward rapid trade liberalization faster than Japan despite farmers' strong resistance. Though both South Korea and Japan had closed their doors to import agricultural products to protect their farmers, South Korea has liberalized its trade by forming Free Trade Agreement (FTA) networks with the United States, the European Union, and China since the 2000s while Japan's FTA policy has been highly delayed. Previous studies have pointed out the farmers’ resistance as a major reason of this delay. However, Korean farmers have also acted to prevent trade liberalization. Why were the Korean farmers less effective than Japanese one? This study focuses on the difference of the farmers' strategy to resist between the two countries. Because Japanese farmers resisted by lobbying, the Diet members in the ruling party needed to follow their request in the fear to lose their next elections. The farmers’ bargaining power was eliminated by the strengthened Prime Minister’s leadership since 2012. Before it, however, Japan took long time to liberalize the trade of agricultural products. Meanwhile, because Korean farmers acted in the form of civil movement such as street demonstration allied with trade unions and student groups, they were less frequent to contact policy makers such as the President, bureaucrats, and the members of National Assembly. As a result, they were less effective on policy forming process.
Akio Nawakura, Meiji University, Japan
Stream: Politics P1. Political Participation and Representation
This paper is part of the ACPEL2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
View / Download the full paper in a new tab/window