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Takashi Inoguchi: My Latest Quality-of-Life related Works to Share with ISQOLS Community

22 Oct 2019 1:10 PM | Jill Johnson (Administrator)

My Latest Quality-of-Life related Works to Share with ISQOLS Community

Takashi Inoguchi

Institute of Asian Cultures

J. F. Oberlin University (Tokyo)

*I acknowledge gratefully the comments made by Prof. Richard J. Estes on an earlier draft of this piece.

Since I was given the honor of delivering the Alex Michalos Lecture at the 2017 ISQOLS annual conference at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Inoguchi, 2017), two developments have taken place in my quality of life related research. One is the revised enriched publication of my lecture in Hong Kong.

 These more recent findings are reported in the forthcoming book chapter:

Takashi Inoguchi, "An evidence-based typology of Asian societies: What do Asian societies look like from the bottom up instead of top down?" in Takashi Inoguchi, ed., The Sage Handbook of Asian Foreign Policy, vol.2, London: Sage Publications, forthcoming in February 2020. 

My theoretical typology of societies has two key merits: (1) evidence-based; and, (2) bottom up. In the author's view, this typology is unique, original and innovative in that daily life satisfaction is taken up to construct the characteristics of a society whereby cross-national comparative measures determine the various social, political, and economic dimensions of individual society. I have attempted to identify adequate public policy scheme in the United Nations 'Sustainable Development Goals' project--one of my current interests that overlap with the typology’s various dimensions. I explain why my scheme would be immensely helpful. Thirty-seven sustainable development goals need the good grasp of people's satisfaction with daily life in sixteen domains (housing, standard of living, household income, health, education, job, friendships, marriage, neighbors, family life, leisure, spiritual life, public safety, conditions of the environment, social welfare system, democratic system) on top of the empirical reality of developmental achievements and prospects.

Examining selected aspects of various UN Sustainable Development Goals reports convinces me of the need to know where people--neither the national government and its relevant bureaucratic agencies nor UN and international specialized organizations, nor business--are dissatisfied and therefore seeking advice as to how to prioritize the attention and advice of the national government, UN agencies, businesses. People's real dissatisfactions here and there are gauged by grass-roots-level opinion polls. Otherwise, UN SDGs will end up with the highly technocratic exercise.

Fortuitously, The Financial Times (FT) calls a better form of capitalism, which points to the same weakness as the UN SDGs scheme, i.e., stakeholder capitalism with those holding stocks reigning supreme. FT says: “The long-term health of free enterprise capitalism will depend on delivering profit with purpose. Companies will come to understand that this combination serves their self-interest as well as their customers and employees. Without change, the prescription risks being far more painful." "Free enterprise capitalism has shown a remarkable capacity to reinvent itself. At times, as the historian and politician Thomas Babington Macaulay wisely noted, it is necessary to reform in order to preserve. Today, the worlds has reached that moment. It is time for a reset." (Financial Times, September 16, 1919).

In the UN SDGs case, largely forgotten at least in the UN SDG documents are people, especially popular dissatisfaction about quality of life as manifested in their daily life. We focus on East Asia where our expertise lies in terms of the availability of a number of polls of quality of life such as those led by Takashi Inoguchi, Noriko Iwai, and Ryozo Yoshino.

The second is the extension of quality of life studies on a global scale. The book, coauthored with Lien T.Q. Le and entitled:

Takashi Inoguchi and Lien T.Q. Le, The Development of Global Legislative Politics: Rousseau and Locke Writ Global, Springer, forthcoming in November 2019.

What has driven the earth on which a liberal world order has been flourished since World War II? We contend that it is the growth of multilateral treaties. If Jean-Jacques Rousseau's and John Locke's social contract ideas are writ global under digitalized globalization, global quality of life can be gauged surrounding a bunch of global quasi-social contracts, i.e., 511 multilateral treaties, as of 2019. On the basis of them the liberal world order has struggled, survived and thrived until recently because they are 'transformative' in the sense that joining them encourages both domestic and global improvements of quality of life among joiners on a global scale. At home sovereign states must see to it that the direction and distribution of citizens' preferences whether it is about parental authority, or about intellectual property rights, or about nuclear ban. If domestic laws contradict with clauses of a proposed treaty, one may start to work toward revising the concerned domestic law or leave it unrevised and opt for not joining the concerned multilateral treaty. At the same time one has another front. Beyond your society, one may watch international environments concerning the concerned multilateral treaty. If you feel strong affinity about culture, identity, religion, history and geography with a certain group of states, you may be inclined to tilt your treaty decision about a concerned treaty to a certain group of states. If you feel that a concerned treaty falls in the policy domain, say, health and  labor, in which your society may not be confident to sustain the WHO's international standards immediately soon, you may a s well opt for joining but with some reservations attached as to compliance with the WHO's multilateral treaties. The point here is that multilateral treaties are intrinsically tied with both domestic and external engagements whereby your sovereign state must juggle, jostle and struggle to secure your own interests and priorities and at the same time it must see to it that your external environments may not be triggered to be metamorphosed by your disharmonious unilateral moves and that your inattention to the "red lines" of those states that stand hegemonic to your country as far as alliance and defense policy. Here important to note is that our scheme does neither presume the salutation of the Westphalian model where a sovereign state stands as if to say that I stand higher than thou nor the acceptance of the extreme model of globalization whereby liberalism sweeps every intermediate organizations out beneath a pure global market. Implicit trust matters in the whole process of joining and together implementing a bundle of global quasi-social contracts.

For the next few years I now envisage a little optimistically to write two books. One is:

Takashi Inoguchi, Eight Types of Asian Societies: Bottom Up and Evidence-Based (in preparation).

and the other is:

Takashi Inoguchi and Lien T.Q. Le, The Birth and Development of Global Legislative Politics: East Asia in Focus (provisional title)

With the proofing processes of the two forthcoming books being about to end, as of September 2019, I thought that I might as well share a reflective and prospective piece for the better communications with ISQOLS community.

Click to learn more about Takashi Inoguchi.

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