Research Activities
International Energy Regime
Second Joint Seminar ”Democracy and Conflict Resolution”: Section One
■Speaker :Kenichi Matsui, Professor, Faculty of Intercultural Communication, Ryukoku University
■Place :Shiekikan 5F Meeting Room, Fukakusa Campus, Ryukoku University
■Date :3rd December 2005 13:00-14:30
■Number :05000201
Discussant: Kosuke Shimizu, Associate Professor, Faculty of Intercultural Communication, Ryukoku University

1. Abstract of Presentation

There is a dominant perspective in the international energy regime. The policies of individual governments and international organizations are determined in accordance with this view. The theory of international regime is useful for understanding such phenomena. In the area of international energy, there are three international regimes: the international oil market control regime, the regime covering nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear power, and the global climate change regime. In forming an international regime, there are three groups of individuals and organisations that produce primary knowledge. They are: (1) those who are involved in the energy sector (private companies working in energy-related areas, researchers, and government officials in charge of energy policies), (2) those who are involved in non-energy areas (economists, environmental scientists, researchers, and climatologists), and (3) the epistemic community (active scientists, and active intellectuals). Then there are a second group of people who disseminate this knowledge, made up of journalists, scholars, researchers, and administrative officials. At present, the information thus produced is often received widely without critical examination. Prof. Matsui pointed out that this is primarily because those who are on the receiving end are in a situation where they have no choice but to receive it uncritically. Japan’s energy policy is now entering a new era, and it is high time that both the Japanese government and private companies begin deliberating on a new grand design. In this critical situation, there is an increasing need for the capacity of intellectual resistance and creative power.

2. Summary of Discussion

Discussant Prof. Shimizu: To begin with, I would like to ask why Prof. Matsui chose the international regime theory in explaining the international energy regime. The question of the relationship between knowledge and power has long been discussed. Why do we have to “go back” to the “regime theory” now? Structuralist theories can explain how and why a certain structure is reproduced. But what we need now is a standpoint that enables us to ask the question of whether there are any flaws inherent in the structure itself, and if so, how we can overcome them. This kind of question involves a value judgment. It is also important to explore how we should understand the situation under which a certain structure is being reproduced. In addition, is it justifiable to treat Japan as if it stands alone on the receiving end of primary knowledge? It seems to me that an overwhelming majority of people in the world, including those who are considered intellectuals, is also on the receiving end. Are there any attempts, either in Japan or elsewhere, by people who want to stop being uncritical recipient and become pro-active in determining energy policies?

Prof. Matsui: I believe the international regime theory is useful for critically examining the current situation that is premised on market principles. My intention is also to emphasise the need to formulate a new theory of the international oil control regime. The need is especially urgent in energy-related areas. It will be desirable to formulate a new regime theory through cooperation with people outside Japan. One of the important reasons why I discuss the regime theory focusing on knowledge is that large-scale wars have become unviable. It is no longer feasible to control the world through the use of force. Nuclear war also sounds impossible. We are now living in an era where knowledge will become the most powerful means of control. It is often under the influence of a profound shock that a new regime emerges to replace the existing one. As for the last question concerning the “response of countries on the receiving end” of primary knowledge, I thought that Japan might be the best example. However, there must be a number of other studies that examine similar research questions regarding other countries. At the moment, counter-knowledge is provided mainly by Europe, in particular by France. For Japan, it is high time that we begin to produce knowledge from an Asian perspective, which will reflect values different from those of the West.
■Details <Detail1