Asia-Pacific, Global Governance, International Law, International Relations Japan and the Expansion of the Liberal International Order

March 14, 2023
By Nobukatsu Kanehara | National Bureau of Asian Research

Today, we are living in a world community called “the liberal international order.” But we should remember that this liberal international order emerged on a global scale only toward the end of the last century. Before that, humans had to go through many atrocities, including two world wars, revolutions, dictatorships, discrimination of every sort, colonization, violence, and bloodshed. Human society went through a long, bloody, and dark tunnel before arriving here.

The liberal international order was mainly created by the Western industrial nations. The West, however, is shrinking. The G-7 (comprising the leading nations of the West along with Japan) accounted for around 70% of global production in 1990. It represents less than 50% today. Instead, the G-20 is becoming more relevant than the G-7.

We are thus now at an inflection point. Is the liberal international order created by the West being marginalized or is it expanding? This commentary examines the establishment of the liberal international order and explores how Japan and other democracies can defend against evolving threats to it.

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