Liberal International Order “The Crisis of Liberal Internationalism”

Project Outline

For the past 70 years, Japan has been one of the most significant beneficiary of the U.S.-led liberal international order (LIO). Without the security provided by the U.S. alliance system, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) based upon the principles of free-trade and the values system centered on democracy and human rights, security and peace in East Asia would have not been possible, which allowed for Japan, South Korea and China to economically prosper – and in Japan’s case, for it to become a democratic and civilian power through engagement in international institutions. To put it simply, the LIO is the strategical underpinning of Japan’s national interest and well-being.

Today, the foundations of the post-war international order are in crisis globally, including the re-treat of democracy in Asia-Pacific. China has begun challenging the U.S.-led institutions and ideology with its system of state-led capitalism. The traditional leader of the LIO, the United States, has increasingly lacked the commitment and capacity to maintain, lead, and evolve the LIO, particularly in Asia-Pacific. Rapid technological change and globalization have and will continue to be big challenges for the LIO.

Given this state of affairs, calls are being made for Japan to take on more of a leadership role in the Asia-Pacific. This project has aimed to propose what Japan must do to uphold and develop the LIO in the region, as well as what challenges and restrictions it faces. It has focused upon both domestic governance issues, such as populist politics, constitutional revision and the role of media, as well as contributions to the international system, ranging from progressing multilateral trade to managing the North Korean nuclear threat and the rise of China.

Building on the first stage of this project that specifically examined Japan’s role in upholding the LIO in the Asia-Pacific, we plan on further analyzing ways that Japan and Europe could collaborate to preserve the LIO in the post-pandemic world as the second stage of this project.

LIO Seminar
The Liberal International Order beyond the War in Ukraine: The Role of Japan and Europe

After the completion of the the Liberal International Order (LIO) Project under the Asia Pacific Initiative (API), the Institute of Geoeconomics (IOG) has taken the project to its second stage and expanded our focus to include the perspectives of Japan, the United States, Europe, as well as other Asian countries. Hosted by the IOG and funded by the National Endowment of Democracy (NED), the LIO Seminar was held in a hybrid format – in person at The Capitol Hotel Tokyu and online via Zoom on October 25, 2022. In the session, participants discussed the war in Ukraine and the rising tensions between the United States and China and the implications of both on the liberal international order.

Keynote Speech: Japan’s global role in human rights issues
Gen Nakatani
Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan for international human rights issues
Member, House of Representatives


Yuichi Hosoya
Director, International House of Japan
Director of Research, Asia Pacific Initiative
Professor, Faculty of Law, Keio University

Hans Kundnani
Director, Europe Programme
Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs

Luis Simón
Director, Center for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS), VUB School of Governance

Céline Pajon
Head of Japan Research, Center for Asian Studies, French Institute of International Relations (Ifri)
Senior fellow, Japan Chair, Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS)

Nithin Coca
Freelance Journalist, Tokyo

Kazuto Suzuki
Director, Institute of Geoeconomics, International House of Japan
Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Tokyo


As a product of our research, we published The Crisis of Liberal Internationalism: Japan and the World Order from Brookings Institution Press in February 2020. The Japanese version of this book was also published from Toyokeizai Shinposha in August 2020. The book consists of two main sections: Japan’s foreign policy and Japan’s governance style. The first half of the book analyzes broad international agendas such as the promotion of multilateral trade, the nuclear threat from North Korea and the resurgence of China. The latter half of the book deals with internal challenges that Japan face such as populism and the role of the media in society. As we complied this volume, we received invaluable input from a number of scholars and experts from a variety of fields. As a result, the book has become a readable volume both for policy-makers and the general public.

“The Crisis of Liberal Internationalism: Japan and the World Order”

Edited by Yoichi Funabashi and G. John Ikenberry
Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
First Published: February 4, 2020
Paperback ISBN: 9780815737674
Ebook ISBN: 9780815737681

Brookings Institution Press



Adam P. Liff
Adam P. Liff
Assistant Professor of East Asian International Relations, School of Global and International
Studies (SGIS), Indiana University

Adam P. Liff’s research focuses on international security and the Asia-Pacific, with particular emphasis on the foreign relations of Japan and China; U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy; the U.S.-Japan alliance; and the rise of China and its regional and global impact. He is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and Associate-in-Research at Harvard University’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Liff holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Politics from Princeton University, and a B.A. from Stanford University.

Mireya Solís
Mireya Solís
Co-Direct and Senior Fellow, Center for East Asia Policy Studies, and Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies, Brookings Institution

Mireya Solís is an expert in Japan’s foreign economic policies, domestic politics and East Asian multilateralism. Her main research interests include Japanese politics, political economy, and foreign policy; international and comparative political economy; international relations; and government-business relations. Solís earned a PhD in government (1998) and an M.A. in East Asian Studies (1991) from Harvard University, and a B.A. in international relations from El Colegio de México (1989). Previously, Solís was an assistant professor (2003-2008) and a tenured associate professor (2008-2014) at American University’s School of International Service, an assistant professor in the Department of Politics at Brandeis University (1999-2003), an advisor to Mexico’s Ministry of Economy on the Japan-Mexico FTA (1999), and a visiting professor at El Colegio de México’s Center for International Relations (1997-1999). She joined the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings Institution in 2012. Her most recent publication is Dilemmas of a Trading Nation (Brookings Institution Press, 2017), which was awarded the 2018 Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize.

Phillip Y. Lipscy
Phillip Y. Lipscy
Assistant Professor of Political Science and the Thomas Rohlen Center Fellow at the Shorenstein
Asia Pacific Research Center, Stanford University

Phillip Y. Lipscy’s fields of research include international and comparative political economy, international security, and the politics of East Asia, particularly Japan. His research addresses topics such as international cooperation, the politics of financial crises, and the politics of energy. He obtained his PhD in political science at Harvard University. He received his M.A. in international policy studies and B.A. in economics and political science at Stanford University. He is the author of Renegotiating the World Order: Institutional Change in International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Maiko Ichihara
Maiko Ichihara
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Law and School of International and Public Policy, Hitotsubashi University

Maiko Ichihara’s research focuses on international relations, Japanese foreign policy and democracy support. She is a member of the Rising Democracy Network project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She earned her PhD in political science from the George Washington University. Her recent publications include Japan’s International Democracy Assistance as Soft Power: Neoclassical Realist Analysis (Routledge, 2017).

Nobumasa Akiyama
Nobumasa Akiyama
Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna

Nobumasa Akiyama specializes in nonproliferation, Japan’s national security, and nuclear energy, publishing extensively and presenting papers on these topics at various conferences. He is an adjunct research fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs. He is a member of various governmental consultative groups and study groups at the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of Japan; and advisor to the Japanese delegation to the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences. He also worked on the review of the Fukushima nuclear accident as a leader of the working group for the Independent Commission on the Investigation of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident.

Akihisa Shiozaki
Akihisa Shiozaki
Attorney and Partner, Nagashima Ohno and Tsunematsu

Akihisa Shiozaki worked in the Prime Minister’s office as a senior policy advisor from 2006 to 2007. He served as a core working group members in the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. He graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1999, earned an M.A. degree in International Policy Studies from Stanford University in 2000 and holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He won Asia Legal Awards’ Compliance/Investigations Lawyer of the Year 2017. He has contributed chapters to the books Japan’s Worst Case Scenario – Nine Blind Spots (CLSA, 2014) and The Democratic Party of Japan in Power (Routledge, 2016).

Ken Victor Leonard Hijino
Ken Victor Leonard Hijino
Associate Professor of Law, Kyoto University

Ken Hijino specializes in party politics and local democracy in Japan. After graduating from Wesleyan University, he worked as a journalist at the Financial Times Tokyo bureau. He earned his PhD at the Cambridge University Faculty of Oriental Studies. He was an associate professor in Keiō University’s Graduate School of System Design and Management until taking up his present post in 2014. His most recent work is Local Politics and National Policy: Multilevel Policy Conflicts in Japan and Beyond (Routledge, 2017).

Thomas Berger
Thomas Berger
Professor of International Relations, Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University

Thomas Berger is specialized in German and Japanese politics, international relations, comparative government in East Asia and political culture. He joined Boston University in 2001 after having taught for seven years at the Johns Hopkins University. In 2018, he was appointed as the Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA) Director. He is the author of War, Guilt and World Politics After World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Cultures of Antimilitarism: National Security in Germany and Japan (John Hopkins University Press, 1988) and is co-editor of Japan in International Politics: The Foreign Policies of an Adaptive State (Lynne Rienner, 2007). His articles and essays have appeared in numerous edited volumes and journals, including International Security, Review of International Studies, German Politics and World Affairs Quarterly.

Kenneth Mori McElwain
Kenneth Mori McElwain
Associate Professor of Political Science, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo

Kenneth Mori McElwain specializes in constitutional design, political institutions and parties and public opinion. He is from Ireland but was raised in Japan. He graduated from Princeton University before earning his PhD in political science at Stanford University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and an assistant professor at the University of Michigan before taking his present post in 2015. He has edited and contributed to numerous books on Japanese politics.

Kaori Hayashi
Kaori Hayashi
Professor of Media and Journalism Studies, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, University of Tokyo

Kaori Hayashi is an expert in mass media, journalism studies and comparative media studies. She worked as an economic correspondent at Reuters Japan from 1988 to 1991. After completing her PhD at the University of Tokyo in 2001, she was a post-doctoral researcher in the Sociology Department at the University of Bamberg. She is a member of the Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization, guest researcher at the Asahi Shimbun, and board member of the German Institute for Japanese Studies and Japan Society for Mass Communication and Journalism Studies. For her publications, please see


Yoichi Funabashi
Yoichi Funabashi
Co-founder and Chairman, Asia Pacific Initiative

He was the editor-in-chief of Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s foremost newspaper, from 2007 to 2010. His books include Meltdown: Inside the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis (Brookings, forthcoming), The Pen-insula Question: A Chronicle of the Second Korean Nuclear Crisis (Brookings, 2007), Alliance Adrift (Council on Foreign Relations, 1998) and Managing the Dollar: From the Plaza to the Lou-vre (Institute for International Economics, 1988).

G. John Ikenberry
G. John Ikenberry
Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Department of Politics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

He is one of the world’s foremost experts on the liberal international order. He is the author of sev-en books, including Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American System (Princeton, 2011) and After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars (Princeton, 2001). Ikenberry is also Global Eminence Scholar at Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea.