Changing Commercial Policy in Japan During 1985-2010

26 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2010 Last revised: 2 Jan 2011

See all articles by Masahiro Kawai

Masahiro Kawai

Asian Development Bank Institute

Shujiro Urata

Waseda University-Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies

Date Written: November 30, 2010


In this paper we examine the changing nature of Japan’s commercial policy over the last 25 years while reviewing Japan’s changing structure of trade, FDI and economy that underlay policy changes. We argue that until the late 1990s Japan adopted a two-track approach of relying on multilateral liberalization under the GATT/WTO and open regionalism under Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on the one hand and on the bilateral trade relationship with the US on the other. Although the Japan-US bilateralism sometimes resulted in “managed trade” and encountered negative perceptions of the US approach in Japan, overall, it had a positive impact on the Japanese economy in opening domestic markets through various reforms and deregulation measures. Japan’s more recent commercial policy focuses on bilateral and plurilateral economic partnership agreements particularly with — but not limited to — East Asian economies. We argue that agricultural sector liberalization is key to the further integration of Japan with the Asian and global economies.

Keywords: japan commercial policy, economy, trade, gatt, WTO, FTA

JEL Classification: F13, F14, F50

Suggested Citation

Kawai, Masahiro and Urata, Shujiro, Changing Commercial Policy in Japan During 1985-2010 (November 30, 2010). ADBI Working Paper No. 253. Available at SSRN: or

Masahiro Kawai (Contact Author)

Asian Development Bank Institute ( email )

Kasumigaseki Building 8F 3-2-5
Kasumigaseki Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo, 100-6008

Shujiro Urata

Waseda University-Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies ( email )

1-21-1 Nishiwaseda
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-8050

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