Home Today Interview – Kentaro Fujikawa

Interview – Kentaro Fujikawa

This interview is a part of a collection of interviews with lecturers and practitioners at an early stage of their profession. The interviews focus on present analysis and tasks, in addition to recommendation for different early profession students.

Kentaro Fujikawa not too long ago joined the Graduate College of Worldwide Improvement at Nagoya College, Japan, as Affiliate Professor to show peacebuilding and safety research. He beforehand labored as a Fellow in Worldwide Relations on the London College of Economics and Political Science, the place he additionally obtained his doctoral diploma. He has been working on the intersection of worldwide relations, comparative politics, and worldwide regulation with a concentrate on self-determination conflicts. His tutorial works have been printed by the Pacific Overview (2017) and International Coverage (2021).

What (or who) prompted probably the most important shifts in your pondering or inspired you to pursue your space of analysis?

I began to develop my curiosity in self-determination conflicts throughout my undergraduate research on the College of Tokyo. This was partially as a result of I heard rather a lot concerning the violence in areas akin to Palestine and Darfur whereas I used to be rising up. As I began to hope to contribute to the settlement of those wars, I made a decision to concentrate on self-determination conflicts which I assumed would most likely require completely different units of options from circumstances the place combatants intention at capturing central governments. Furthermore, as a naïve undergraduate pupil, I felt that many tutorial works analyzed the latter reasonably than the previous, so I assumed there is perhaps a distinct segment to fill. There’s a purpose for this naivety; in many of the programs on battle and peacebuilding on the undergraduate and even postgraduate stage, core readings hardly ever focus on options for self-determination conflicts akin to autonomy, partition, or a self-determination referendum.

Additionally, in hindsight, rising up in a not-so-overtly nationalistic nation of Japan (for instance, I as soon as attended a global pupil convention; there, college students from Brunei took nice care in order that their row of flags, a logo of their nation, by no means touched the ground whereas Japanese college students didn’t present any robust considerations about their row of flags), I used to be desirous about nationalist conflicts the place fighters and their leaders are more than pleased to die for the sake of their nation. Certainly, in self-determination conflicts, rebels often have little likelihood of victory in opposition to robust central governments as they combat with few weapons of their very own and with out worldwide assist or sympathy. To me, it was comprehensible for individuals to be keen to die for causes akin to faith—when it guarantees an afterlife in heaven—however why did nationalist fighters sacrifice themselves for the unrealistic aim of independence? Isn’t it potential for them to be happy with substantial autonomy? Is self-determination actually the reply to the issues they’re going through? I’ve been motivated by these questions all through my tutorial profession.

You lately printed a piece evaluating autonomy preparations as an answer to self-determination conflicts, with a specific concentrate on Aceh in Indonesia. May you inform us a bit about what drew you to this particular space of debate/country-specific instance and what your main findings had been?

My curiosity in Aceh additionally originated from my undergraduate research after I had a chance to put in writing a analysis paper. I assumed Indonesia, which has had three self-determination conflicts—Aceh, Papua, and East Timor–was an fascinating avenue for comparability. I additional wrote a grasp’s dissertation on the London College of Economics (a revised model of which was printed in the Pacific Overview in 2017) evaluating the Indonesian authorities’s insurance policies on Aceh and Papua. However I then began to appreciate that this Pacific Overview article didn’t absolutely clarify why Aceh’s battle was peacefully settled in 2005.

Actually, Aceh is an distinctive case as a result of it has been argued that ethnonational conflicts are typically tough to resolve by means of autonomy for 2 causes. First, governments have a tendency to not provide substantial concessions as a result of ethnonational rebels, merely working within the periphery and being militarily weak (with out heavy weapons), don’t pose threats to them. Second, even when governments provide autonomy, rebels have problem accepting it, as they’re frightened that the autonomy association can be unilaterally abolished sooner or later. Certainly, the variety of peace agreements settling battle decisively with autonomy alone (i.e., excluding the potential of future self-determination) could be very restricted.

This statement made me discover why the battle in Aceh was resolved by means of autonomy in 2005. I discovered that the federal government was keen to supply important concessions because it was conscious of the long-term value of the battle. Regardless that the peripheral and weak rebels imposed solely a restricted risk and price per yr, the conflict would nonetheless be expensive in the long run as a result of ethnonational conflicts are likely to final for many years. On the a part of the rebels, they had been keen to signal the autonomy association solely after they believed that their autonomy was internationally assured. These findings have implications for policymakers after they intention at settling a self-determination battle peacefully by means of autonomy.

One other of your current pieces regarded particularly at self-determination referendums as ‘peace-bringers’ in a number of international locations, akin to East Timor, South Sudan and Eritrea. How did the outcomes of this work examine to your earlier findings on autonomy preparations?

This weblog put up summarizes the findings from my doctoral thesis. The primary distinction between Aceh and the circumstances I examined on this work was that within the former, the worldwide neighborhood (and worldwide mediators) pressured each the rebels and the central authorities to just accept a wide-ranging autonomy whereas, within the latter, they had been keen to endorse self-determination for numerous causes.

Whether or not self-determination and independence are a solution to self-determination conflicts depends upon the context. In clear decolonization circumstances akin to East Timor or Western Sahara, native residents have the inalienable proper to self-determination. Past decolonization circumstances, there are self-determination conflicts which linger for many years due to the constant discrimination in opposition to and political exclusion of minorities below various completely different administrations (e.g., the battle in Southern Sudan). In these circumstances, I consider a case might be made that minorities ought to be given the appropriate to self-determination. It is because such discrimination is unlikely to finish if it has persevered for many years. Nonetheless, dividing the state into two doesn’t provide an computerized answer. On one hand, the independence of a brand new state would probably carry concerning the concern of “trapped minorities”: for instance, Serbs that stay in Kosovo. Alternatively, even with out this trapped minority concern, newly impartial states, usually with very restricted institutional capacities, face an enormous activity to achieve success in peacebuilding.

You additionally argue that some damaging outcomes of post-conflict self-determination referendums could possibly be mitigated. You write that “the extreme optimism by worldwide actors is a matter of notion and thus, not inevitable”. Why do you see this as problematic on a global coverage stage and what would you plan as a substitute?

Extreme optimism is usually a giant drawback in politics as is obvious from the present Covid pandemic. That is true in peacebuilding as effectively. Publish-2003 Iraq is a working example. The American authorities claimed that its intervention in Iraq might produce outcomes just like post-WWII Japan or Germany with out absolutely realizing the massive variations between the previous and the latter. Actually, we ought to be very cautious as peacebuilding fairly often fails to supply the peace, democracy, and growth it units out to realize.

Within the particular circumstances I checked out (Eritrea, East Timor, and South Sudan), extreme optimism emerged amongst worldwide actors as a result of they wrongly believed that the elites and residents had been united in these newly established states. This misunderstanding resulted from their statement that they had been united behind independence as exhibited within the referendum course of and final result. The worldwide actors failed to know {that a} completely different post-conflict part would emerge as soon as the battle was over. This false impression meant that worldwide actors failed to concentrate to the political divisions among the many native elites, and weren’t effectively ready to forestall the introduction of dictatorship in Eritrea, the 2006 disaster in East Timor, and the 2013 civil conflict in South Sudan.

So as to not be trapped by this extreme optimism, we must always put extra emphasis on the political tradition and historical past of the area/state in query. Normally, we must always rely extra on regional specialists and native researchers when fascinated with the right way to construct peace in these war-torn societies. Historical past issues, and in conflict-ridden societies, historical past is sophisticated.

Do you assume your worldwide expertise, residing in Japan after which shifting to the UK for doctoral work, has modified/re-shaped your work/views in any method?

This isn’t a brand new statement in any respect, however it made me conscious about the risks of speaking about “the worldwide neighborhood” as if it had been a single actor. Very often, the view of “the worldwide neighborhood” is formed by a small variety of states. Moreover, they’re usually not the identical states relying on the problem and the place at stake. For instance, relating to East Timor, necessary actors within the worldwide neighborhood are states akin to Japan and Australia. In distinction, regarding South Sudan, the USA, the UK, and Norway, along with regional powers akin to Ethiopia and Uganda, are a very powerful actors within the worldwide neighborhood. Apparently, Indonesia or Sudan doesn’t appear to be a part of this mentioned worldwide neighborhood in every case as a result of they’re seen as an social gathering. However then international locations akin to Australia and Uganda even have important stakes in these circumstances. In that sense, who’s a part of the worldwide neighborhood and who’s an social gathering are socially constructed.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any occasional circumstances the place the worldwide neighborhood appears to talk with one voice, representing the viewpoints of residents all over the world. The strain exerted by each developed and creating states throughout the post-referendum violence orchestrated by the Indonesian navy in East Timor in September 1999 is a working example. On this particular case, this strain made the Indonesian authorities settle for the worldwide drive to stabilize the scenario in East Timor. Equally, the current act of terrorism at Kabul’s airport in August 2021 was condemned by numerous Western, non-Western, and creating international locations. However usually, we ought to be cautious after we use the time period “worldwide neighborhood.” Actually, after I introduced my analysis in Japan, one researcher advised me that it was maybe higher to make use of the time period “worldwide actors” than “worldwide neighborhood.” Whereas I don’t at all times adhere to this recommendation, this level is price noting.

What are you at present engaged on?

I’m at present targeted on publishing my findings from my doctoral thesis within the type of tutorial journal articles and a guide. I’m additionally extending my analyses of post-conflict self-determination referendums to the newest case: the 2019 referendum in Bougainville. Within the meantime, I’m creating my curiosity within the burgeoning insurgent governance literature. One of many goals of this literature is to attempt to perceive why some rebels, usually dedicated to democracy, human rights, and open society, find yourself in an authoritative mode of governance. This literature would possibly assist clarify, for instance, why peacebuilding in East Timor has been largely successful (regardless of the setback of the 2006 Disaster) whereas peacebuilding in South Sudan has suffered from successive civil wars.

I’m additionally at present writing a spin-off article from my doctoral research which argues that the 2006 disaster in East Timor and the 2013 civil conflict in South Sudan happened because of comparable causes. Past these occasions, nonetheless, it’s putting to see that East Timor’s peacebuilding has largely been profitable whereas South Sudan remains to be struggling. I plan to look at why that is the case (see beneath).

What’s the most Necessary recommendation you would give to younger students of Worldwide Relations?

Worldwide Relations is an fascinating and various area which lacks coherence. I strongly recommend that you simply study completely different approaches (from realism to constructivism, important theories, and feminism) and completely different methodologies (from quantitative analyses to case choice and discourse analyses), with out assuming that one explicit “-ism” or methodology is superior to others.

In case you plan to work on the problems of nations the place you will have by no means lived, I counsel you to stay there for a few years. This was the recommendation I obtained from my supervisor on the College of Tokyo, and I remorse that I didn’t observe it. Specifically, in case you are not from the area, that’s all of the extra purpose to stay there to be able to perceive the area, the nation, its individuals, and its tradition, given your weaker familiarity with the world.

If you’re desirous about remaining in academia, I’ve two additional items of recommendation. First, it’s good to take into account how robust your dedication is to stay in academia. Is that this your prime precedence? For instance, are you keen to maneuver to an unfamiliar nation to proceed your tutorial profession distant from your loved ones and mates? If you’re a western researcher finding out postcolonialism, are you maybe keen to maneuver and contribute to a non-western establishment? Moreover, if in case you have a accomplice, are they keen to maneuver with you, or are you able to keep a long-distance relationship (and for a way lengthy)? This isn’t to say that there is no such thing as a researcher who can stay in the identical metropolis all through their complete tutorial profession, however this isn’t quite common. It’s helpful if you can begin to consider your solutions to those questions earlier reasonably than later.

If, after cautious consideration, you continue to wish to stay in academia, my second piece of recommendation is to publish your grasp’s dissertation (or probably seminar papers for US PhD applications) in an instructional journal. Even when it doesn’t obtain the best grade, your dissertation would possibly nonetheless be publishable. Certainly, my grasp’s dissertation from LSE obtained a excessive benefit, however a revised model was printed in a revered journal. Having one journal article printed at an early stage is not going to solely enhance your CV but in addition assist you become familiar with the foundations of the sport in academia.

Additional Studying on E-Worldwide Relations

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