GIST Seminar

The 64th GIST Seminar
"Asia in a Changing Arctic: Diplomacy of economy and science for the new frontiers"

The 64th GIST Seminar<br>
Speaker Dr. Aki Tonami (Researcher, the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen)
Time December 1, 2014 5pm-7pm
Venue Research Meeting Room 4A, 4th floor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (ACCESS)
Sponsor GRIPS Innovation, Science and Technology Policy Program (GIST)
Language English
Fee Free (Pre-registraion required)

Presentation Overivew

In May 2013, the Arctic states convened in Kiruna, Sweden in part to decide on whether six states should be admitted as new observers to the Arctic Council. Their applications were accepted - but what captured the attention of public media and researchers was that five of them were from Asia: China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore. Asian states' interest in the Arctic raised concerns among Arctic states about possible impacts that these states (particularly China) and their businesses may bring to the fragile Arctic. Indeed, at a glance, one might ask what credentials these Asian states have to be involved in the leading Arctic forum. However, a closer look at their engagement in the Arctic shows that they have a genuine interest in political, economic and environmental developments there. In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of literature on the geopolitics of the Arctic as Arctic ice-melt has rapidly increased and new opportunities in the region have begun to emerge. However, the majority of existing research is from the viewpoint of the Arctic states. Their conclusion is that Asian states are mostly interested in the economic aspect of the changing Arctic, be it vast deposits of mineral sources, fossil sources or the opening of the new sea routes. This assessment is with an underlying assumption that Asian states take a Machiavellian approach in their international relations, favoring expediency over morality. Contrary to this perspective, this paper attempts to explain that Asian states' (seemingly) economic interest in the Arctic is grounded on their unique perspective on national security and the role of economic development in securing their national interests.

Simplified personal history

Dr. Aki Tonami is Researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. Dr. Tonami is a specialist in foreign policy and development in Asia, with research interests in international environmental governance, economic diplomacy, and aspects of governance of the Polar Regions. She has a PhD in Global Environmental Studies (2008) and a MA in Economics (2004) from Kyoto University, and a BSc in Commerce from Santa Clara University. Having worked as Research Advisor for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Dr. Tonami has written extensively on East Asian states’ environmental foreign policy. Her recent publications include 'The Arctic policy of China and Japan: multi-layered economic and strategic motivations', The Polar Journal, 4(1), 105-126 (2014), and ‘Trajectories of Japanese and South Korean Environmental Aid: A Comparative Historical Analysis’, Journal of Environment & Development, 23(2), 191-219 (2014, co-authored with Anders Riel Müller).


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