Diffusing the Abolitionist Norm in Japan: EU ‘Death Penalty Diplomacy’ and the Gap between Rhetoric and Reality in EU–Japan Relations

Paul Bacon*, Hidetoshi Nakamura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article uses Börzel and Risse's norm diffusion framework to conceptualize and evaluate the EU's ‘death penalty diplomacy’ in Japan. Despite the ‘exceptional’ nature of Japanese politics with regard to the death penalty the EU has enjoyed numerous successes in its attempts to diffuse the abolitionist norm within Japan. These successes have occurred through both direct and indirect methods of norm diffusion, and through socialization, persuasion and functional emulation. Despite the dramatic increase in executions in Japan in 2018, in practice the EU and Japan have established an understanding that executions will in future stabilize at a low and symbolic level. The EU has also co-funded research that successfully challenged the Japanese government's public opinion polling-based justification for retaining the death penalty. This research also played an important role in socializing and persuading the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations to change its official position and to support the abolition of the death penalty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1230-1246
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Volume59
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sep

Keywords

  • EU–Japan relations
  • death penalty
  • norm diffusion
  • opinion polling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations

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