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World Politics

Vol. 65, No. 1

January 2013

Regional Organizations and International Politics: Japanese Influence over the Asian Development Bank and the UN Security Council

By Daniel Yew Mao Lim and James Raymond Vreeland

Do regional hegemons use their power in regional organizations to advance foreign policy objectives? The authors investigate whether Japan leverages its privileged position at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to facilitate project loans for the elected Asian members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), a platform from which it seeks to shape global affairs. Analyzing panel data of ADB loan disbursements to twenty-four developing member-countries from 1968 to 2009, the authors find that temporary UNSC membership increases adb loans, particularly during the post–1985 period, when Japan asserted greater influence in multilateral organizations. They estimate an average increase of about 30 percent. Because of Japan’s checkered history of imperialism, the adb provides a convenient mechanism by which the government can obfuscate favors for politically important countries. A cting through this regional organization enables Japan to reconcile a low-key approach to foreign affairs with the contradictory goal of global activism — leading without appearing unilateralist.

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