Research Group 1
An Agent or a Barrier? The Role of the Nation in Conflict Resolution
This research group focuses on the study of the various actors involved in conflicts and conflict resolutions in Asian and African countries, including states, nations and their nationalism, international organisations and NGOs. Our research will examine historical roles played by these various actors in conflicts and conflict resolution processes.
In contemporary Southwest Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the dominant approach to conflict resolution is through violence. It is sufficient to note frequent occurrences of war and terrorism in these regions in order to solve disputes in the past couple of decades. However, as best illustrated in the successful resolution of the India-British conflict through non-violent methods led by Mahatma Gandhi, these regions have endogenous mechanisms towards non-violent approaches to conflict resolution that are based on local traditions and collective memory.
Our research group aims to contribute to the formation of a new theory of conflict resolution from the perspective of area studies that will provide a mutual learning opportunity for Asia and Africa. In order to achieve this goal, we will conduct the following three studies. First, we plan to examine various methods and dimensions of conflict resolution and peace-making processes in Asia and Africa based on the research methodology of area studies. Second, we will conduct empirical analysis of available historical data that will be collected through fieldwork. Finally, we will compare the detailed analysis of conflicts and conflict resolution processes in respective Asian and African countries and try to draw theoretical implications.
Research Group 2
International Political Economy and Conflict Resolution
There are four major elements that comprise conflict, namely, actors, means, objectives and the environment. This research group deals with the last two elements of conflict.
Among the various factors that can cause disputes and severe friction between states, economic reasons often occupy a dominant position. Therefore we will focus on the analysis of economic aspects of conflicts and examine to what extent economic factors determine the course of conflicts. The following research topics will be investigated by members of the research group:
- Conflicts over resources and energy
- U.S foreign policy towards Middle East and the relationship with oil
- Dimensions of conflicts over resources and prospect of regime formation as a means to resolve existing disputes and frictions
- Regional and international disputes over Iranfs nuclear development policy
- WTO negotiations on agricultural production in Asia
- Global warming and its impact on Asia and Africa
- Problems surrounding Asian migrant workers in the Middle East
- The prospect of regional cooperation on energy in Asia
Our research attempts to show that disputes and conflicts in these economic spheres can be solved through cooperation among relevant states, which will in fact enhance not only the interests of individual countries involved, but also contribute to increasing collective and overall interests. Based on this understanding, we will propose the construction of cooperative system such as formation of international regimes which will be the key in resolving the resource-related conflicts in Asia and Africa.
Research Group 3
Is Culture the Answer? The Role of Networks and Culture in Conflict Resolution
This research group has three focuses on the concept of culture, and examines how gcultureh can be conceptualized in terms of means and environment, which are two important factors in conflict resolution.
In the 1930s, the concept of culture was constructed in opposition to racism and the cultural relativism and became one of the keywords in explaining different cultures. However, especially in Japan, gcultureh later came to be conceptualized in relation to the concept of nation and/or nationalism, which was considered as serving overall purposes. As a result, no serious attempts were made to investigate gcultureh as a possible solution to conflicts, despite it being identified as one of the key elements in ethnic conflicts. Therefore our research group aims to clarify the mechanism of culture by exploring the historical roots of the concept of the culture in Asia and Africa. In particular we seek to find cultural mechanisms that underlay the conflicts by clarifying the relationship between culture and the human networks of those who constantly move between the different national cultures such as the overseas Chinese and the overseas Indian networks in East and Southeast Asia, and by examining different social risks depending on onefs culture.
Research Group 4
Poverty and Regional Development in the Process of Conflict Resolution
Different from other research groups that focus on conflicts between nation-states or transnational conflicts, this research group examines the relationship between economy and conflict within individual countries. In particular our group aims to investigate how and to what extent poverty might be related to the absence, occurrence, continuation, and resolution of conflicts in Asian and African countries.
In analysing the relationship between poverty and conflict in Asia and Africa, it is useful to distinguish two distinctive periods of pre-conflict and post-conflict. Some of the major questions relating to the pre-conflict period include the following: whether the unequal distribution of wealth, development projects and accessibility to urban economic sectors in a country have had any significant influences on the relationship between different ethnic and religious groups as well as the relationship between the centre and periphery and if they have, in what way. These questions will mainly be examined in connection to several Asian countries.
The post-conflict period is a primary concern of members working on African countries. Many African countries achieved independence in the 1960s, the decade which later came to be known as the African decade. However the process of nation building for many newly-independent African counties was not smooth. There have been frequent incidents of confrontations and conflicts between different ethnic, religious and/or political groups over the control of state power and national resources. Some of them developed into violent armed fighting which resulted in many casualties, but there are cases such as Rwanda that managed to achieve the semblance of peace after a period of brutal war. The most important question in the post-conflict period is how to achieve national reconciliation and maintain the political stability so that the country will not revert back to violence again. Our research group will also examine whether the post-conflict governments in Africa have introduced any concrete policies for poverty reduction or regional development in order to maintain fragile peace attained after conflicts.