American University of Beirut

Japan and Lebanon: Trajectories of Reconstruction


The AUB Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI), in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in Lebanon, hosted a hybrid conference titled “Japan and Lebanon: Trajectories of Reconstruction” on March 8, 2022. The two-panel event took place in IFI’s Basile Antoine Meguerdiche Conference Hall. The conference aimed to tackle the question of political and legal reconstruction and recovery after devastating wars, the second world war for Japan and the civil war in Lebanon, looking at aspects of democratic reconstruction and rule of law.  

The Conference consisted of Introductory remarks and two panels. In the first panel, Lebanese and Japanese scholars presented a comparative reading of post-war dynamics in both countries. How Japan emerged from a catastrophe of terrible magnitude on the scale of mankind’s history, how its political system was reshuffled, and how its new constitution and institutional reconstruction allowed reconciliation with both itself and its history, and with the world, of which it became an active and constructive prominent actor. This was put in comparison with the way Lebanon ended its 15-year war, by making modifications to its previous constitution -that proved to be sufficient for ending the conflict, but far from being enough for allowing a proper institutional reconstruction outing the country on the path towards serious reform; the Taif agreement and its institutional translation kept on being incompletely or distortedly applied, in the context of a volatile regional environment also, bringing the country to the alarming situation in which it is plunged today. The panel thus provided a cross reading in political and constitutional history of both countries, highlighting the issues of reconstruction, reconciliation, reform, and reintegration in the global system.

On the other hand, the second panel, which also hosted scholars and experts from Lebanon and Japan, tackled a more specific question, that of the rule of law and of the administration of justice, by seizing two case-studies that seem to bear several similarities, both in their causes and natures, as well as in the way they were addressed by the political level in both countries. The panel exposed the ins-and-outs of the Fukushima nuclear accident, with a focus on the risk-mitigation responses out in place, the investigation that followed, the determination of responsibilities, and the lessons learned and their subsequent application in the Japanese system. On the Lebanon side, the Beirut Port blast that took place on August 4, 2020 with a focus on the chain of negligence that has led to it, the very poor response to it, the dragging investigation and the endless judicial stalling surrounding the case, with what it underlines and highlight in terms of poor and fragile system of checks and balances, as well as in terms of solidity and capacity of the legal system to face tragedies if such a scale. This panel thus compared essentially administrative structures, legal systems, and the political environments accompanying or on the contrary impeding the processes in both cases.

The conference hosted around 100 attendees including, students, academics, and journalists from different countries and universities in Lebanon and Japan especially. 

Read the full conference report here (in English). 

Read the full conference report here (in Arabic).

Read the full conference report here​​​ (in Japanese).

Watch the rerun here

Watch the event highlight​s here​

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