Recent Anti-ISDS Discourse in the Japanese Diet: A Dressed-Up But Glaring Hypocrisy

in The Journal of World Investment & Trade
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As in many parts of the world, an anti-investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) discourse has been propagated also in Japan. In the Japanese Diet (Japan’s parliament), ISDS is criticized as infringing State sovereignty; as being incompatible with the Japanese Constitution; as unduly restricting regulatory space and government procurement; as being biased in favor of the United States; and as being acceptable only in relation to developing States. These criticisms are difficult to sustain and in fact ineffective as investment treaties continue to be approved by the Diet by unanimity or by a large majority. An analysis of the rhetoric of these criticisms and of actual voting records suggest that investor-State arbitration itself is not an independent political issue in Japan, but used as a pretext to manifest an anti-American sentiment or to criticize the incumbent government.