The Japan Society of International Economics (JSIE) was founded on April 29, 1950. Its constitution states that the aim is to promote academic research of theoretical, empirical and policy-oriented international economics. It holds an annual all-Japan convention, publishes proceedings in the official bulletin “International Economy” and promotes coordination with academic associations inside and outside Japan.
The place of convention alternates between Kanto and Kansai-Chubu. It holds occasional local conventions as well as district conventions in each district ( Kanto(East of Japan), Chubu(Center) and Kansai(West)). Its membership is 1190 as of June 10, 1997. The Kanto district has 689 members, the Chubu 77, and the Kansai 399. The rest consists of 14 institutional members and 11 overseas members. The membership increases year after year.
The all-Japan two-day annual convention usually consists of break-up free-theme sessions on the second day as well as a plenary session on the first day. The plenary session consists of three keynote speeches, which are subject to objective and comprehensive comments of three panelists. Other members join the following afternoon overall discussion, which is extensive, intense and profound, contributing to higher quality of the JSIE and better fellowship among the members. Young rising economists get academically stimulated by being involved in the lively first-rate plenary discussion by scholars of international economics representing Japan. A five-member program committee, officially selected at the plenary session of the convention held a year before, carefully and objectively selects first-rate presenters and disinterested discussants from purely academic viewpoints.
The JSIE members are made up of academic and business economists. Business circles inside and outside Japan show increasing interest in the activities of the JSIE. Scientific cooperation in general between business and academic circles in Japan still lags behind that in other advanced countries, as pointed out by former JSIE presidents. It has therefore become customary since 1992 to add an open symposium to the convention, as stipulated in the constitution. The symposium is general, timely and open to all citizens including local businessmen, thus enhancing social contribution of the JSIE and contact with business community.
Because Japan is increasingly involved in the world community, the importance of the JSIE tends to rise year after year. The number of papers written in English is increasing. So is the number of papers presented and commented in English. Some sessions use no Japanese. The door is now open for economists from abroad, and this will help the JSIE become truly international.
Noteworthy is the recent tie with the Korean International Economics Association (KIEA), initiated in1995 by the Presidents of the two associations. Masaru SAITOH (Chuo University, Japan) and Choong Yong AHN (Chung-Ang University, Korea). The latter’s presentation at the 1995 convention “Korea-Japan Partnership in a Dynamic but Turbulent East Asian Economy” symbolizes increasing academic mutual relationship. Papers on Korea had already appeared increasingly. The academic tie is in line with various ideas of preceding JSIE presidents, especially Kiyoshi IKEMOTO (Kobe University, the 1992-1994 JSIE President). The Japan-Korea Partnership Agreements refers to the promotion of mutual understanding of world, Asian and Japan-Korean economies, mutual invitation to respective annual conventions, promotion of joint research, mutual payment of expenditures based on reciprocity, etc. Similar academic ties with other countries are desired in line with the JSIE constitution.
World Economy and JSIE
During the 1950s, Japan was in process of economic recovery and the cold war was widespread. The themes were directed toward Japanese trade, Soviet Economy and typical topics of traditional international economics. In the 1960s, new phases came to appear with focus on the North-South problem and related issues. Asian economy has already attracted much attention, as seen in the 1969 convention. Theoretical papers and ones on currency continue to attract much attention. The two oil crises in the 1970s and related issues brought about fundamental changes of the world economy, causing the conventions to focus on these new issues year after year. The 1985 Plaza Accord constituted a historical landmark in the world economy. Forty years had passed after World War II. Timely discussion in this line was made at the 1985 and the 1988 convention. The end of the cold war around 1990 marked a new phase of the JSIE, with interests shifting to such topics as new role of Japan or Japanese-style management, sustainable development, environment and resource issues, etc. The importance of Asian countries (Asian NIES, ASEAN, China, India, and other Asian followers) will continue to attract much interest of the JSIE members. Their presentation in English will continue to increase, enhancing its contribution to the academic world community of international economics.
The world economy consists three poles, which are in the order of GDP (a)EU, (b)US, and (c)Japan. Behind EU lies Africa, behind US Latin America, and behind Japan Asia. The number of JSIE presentations are in the reverse order. Many papers have been presented on Japan, Asia, and Pan-Pacific, followed by US and NAFTA, but very few on EU and Africa. Also few are papers on former socialist countries.
The three-pole world is getting smaller. This means globalization or unification on the one hand, but regional integration on the other. In what relations do the two stand? This seemingly contradictory trend has long attracted much interest, as reflected in the themes of Table 1. One solution is “open regionalism”, to which many agree.
Such opposing concepts tend to be taken up one after another in the main theme of the plenary session. It is the tradition already to contrast regionalism with globalism, bilateralism with multilateralism, and nationalism with internationalism. These contrasts will be focused on in the future, too. The JSIE has seen academic progress by thoroughly examining such contrasts and by synthesizing and overcoming the difficulty.
The shrinking world implies increasing conflicts, e.g., US-Japan trade conflicts, and the papers on these issues are on the increase. Japanese economy and Japanese business are critically discussed in comparison with other countries, developed and developing.
It goes without saying that the globalization process per se of the world economy has been major focus of the JSIE with the 21st century just around the corner. Meaningful in this respect are the 1960 convention on new phase of world economy, the 1979 convention with the 1980s in prospect, and the 1985 convention discussing the forty years after the war.
The keynote presenters used to consist of those members belonging to the so-called modern economics, and those belonging to the so-called Marxist economics in order keep balance. The balance, however, has been losing importance since the collapse of the USSR and other socialist countries. Gaining importance are such subjects as transition, environment, sustainability, economic aid, philanthropy, etc. It was at the 1995 convention that “environment” first entered into the main theme of the plenary session.
Emphasis is placed more on real-side issues than on monetary-side issues. Currency, financial capital movements, balance of payments, international finance, and the like tend to be less frequently discussed than trade, direct investment, economic development, terms of trade and the like.
Gradual shift of interest from purely theoretical to empirical or policy-oriented papers has taken place in the JSIE in recent years. In Japan, there is a bigger association, Japan Association of Economics and Econometrics, which has sessions devoted exclusively to theoretical issues of international economics. Purely theoretical papers tend to be taken up there.
(Original data was prepared by Prof. Kiyoshi ABE, Chiba University, in 1998, Hirohiko SHIMPO revised and added some data in 2005)