Networks, Fields and Power: Japan’s Politics of the Kyoto Climate Protocol

Jeffrey Broadbent


The sources and qualities of power and influence in the political process have been a perennial subject of debate in the social sciences. The class, state and pluralist models differed in their answers, while institutions and culture opened new dimensions of consideration. The international context adds the influence of international actors and norms, producing a two-level game. Policy networks offer an avenue of investigation, one that if placed within these theoretical frameworks promises to resolve remaining questions with greater acuity. The present study examines the politics of Japan’s 1996 decision to host the 1997 Kyoto Conference that produced the momentous Kyoto Protocol on reducing carbon emissions. Policy network analysis of 161 organizations involved in this decision, using several measures of relative influence on the process, revealed different perceptions of the power structure affected by the experiences and expectations of the organizations measured. The overall measure of influence presented the image of a polity very much influenced by the IPCC and the UNEP as well as domestic governmental ministries, dominant political party, and top economic actors. But influence as seen from the core of the policy-making apparatus, the Environmental Agency, dispensed with the international actors and gave predominant influence to domestic sectoral business interest groups, the economic ministry, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Japan’s structural formation may be explained by reference to its generative field of power.

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