The Diversity to Reflect Domestic Interests on International Trade Policy: Comparison of FTA Politics in Korea and Japan


This study asks why both Korea and Japan have protected their domestic agriculture while concluding a series of free trade agreements (FTAs) in spite of their different political structure.Since the 2000s, both Korea and Japan have concluded large number of FTAs with major economies holding less-competitive agriculture at home. Facing the resistance by farmers, both of the two governments have omitted some agricultural products from the list of FTA negotiations.Though they have implemented similar policies, political structure of the two countries is quite different. While Japan has much political space for lobbying, Korea has been pointed out as delegative democracy, a regime which interest groups have limited space for lobbying.In the case of Japan, farm lobby has demanded the ruling party to exclude agricultural products from the list of FTAs or compensate farmers to cover the damage caused by trade liberalization as a precondition to support the party in National Diet elections.In Korea, meanwhile, because the space for lobbying is limited, some major farmers' associations have acted as advocacy groups. They have encouraged public opinion to resist on the governments' rapid liberalization. It has mobilized millions of citizens to act on street to oppose free trade. This has often acted as pressure on the government.As a conclusion, while Japanese farmers have protected their interests by traditional lobbying methods, Korean farmers have done it by pressuring the government mobilizing public opinion. This indicates that there are diverse routes to reflect domestic interests on international trade policy.

Author Information
Akio Nawakura, Meiji University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACSS2018
Stream: Politics, Public Policy, Law & Criminology

This paper is part of the ACSS2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon