1st Edition

Japan’s Effectiveness as a Geo-Economic Actor Navigating Great-Power Competition

By Yuka Koshino, Robert Ward Copyright 2022

    Geo-economic strategy – deploying economic instruments to secure foreign-policy aims and to project power – has long been a key element of statecraft. In recent years, it has acquired even greater salience given China’s growing antagonism with the United States and the willingness of both Beijing and Washington to wield economic power in their confrontation. This trend has particular significance for Japan given its often tense political relationship with China, which remains its largest trading partner. While Japan’s post-war geo-economic performance often failed to match its status as one of the world’s largest economies, more recently Tokyo has demonstrated increased geo-economic agency and effectiveness.

    In this Adelphi book, Yuka Koshino and Robert Ward draw on multiple disciplines – including economics, political economy, foreign policy and security policy – and interviews with key policymakers to examine Japan’s geo-economic power in the context of great-power competition between the US and China. They examine Japan’s previous underperformance, how Tokyo’s understanding of geo-economics has evolved and, given constraints on its national power-projection, what actions Japan might feasibly take to become a more effective geo-economic actor. Their conclusions will be of direct interest not only for all those concerned with Japanese grand strategy and the Asia-Pacific, but also for those middle powers seeking to navigate great-power competition in the coming decades.


    1. Japan’s geo-economic evolution 

    2. Japan’s geo-economic strategy: the means 

    3. Japan’s geo-economic strategy: implementation 

    4. Japan’s geo-economic effectiveness 


    Yuka Koshino is a Research Fellow for Security and Technology Policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), conducting independent research on security in the Indo-Pacific region and the impact of emerging technologies on security from defence and geo-economic perspectives. She was previously affiliated with the Asia-Pacific Initiative in Tokyo as the inaugural Matsumoto-Samata Fellow (2020–21). She previously served as a research associate with the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She holds a Master's in Asian Studies from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a BA in law from Keio University, where she completed an academic year at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Robert Ward holds the Japan Chair at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), conducting independent research and writing extensively on strategic issues related to Japan. He is also the IISS Director of Geo-economics and Strategy, focusing on a range of issues including global economic governance, rules and standards setting, and how economic coercion affects policy at a national and corporate level. Prior to joining the IISS, he was Editorial Director at the Economist Intelligence Unit. Robert lived and worked in Japan from 1989 to 1996, latterly holding a position in Japan’s largest credit-rating agency, the Japan Bond Research Institute. Robert holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Cambridge.