This project examines how East Asian regional economic integration connects and transforms river basins, wetland commons within them, and community vulnerabilities in Japan and Thailand

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Contact Dr. Carl Middleton for further details.

Project Status: Ongoing

Global and regional economic integration connect distant places not only economically but also ecologically. In East Asia, regional economic integration accelerated since the 1980s. Japan became a key exporter of capital to Southeast Asia, catalyzing a rapid industrialization and new flows of trade and investment. Whilst much emphasis has been placed by governments and transnational corporations on the economic benefits of regionalization, research has also revealed significant impacts to local environments including enclosure of commons, and changes to communities’ economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities in both positive and negative ways.

In this project, we study how economic trade, investment, and aid, and environmental processes including “virtual water flows”, have transformed water security and local vulnerabilities in Japan and Thailand. In Thailand, our research focuses on industrial estates in Ayuthaya and Map Tha Phut area, and peri-urban areas of Bangkok. In Japan, we focus on the watershed surrounding Tokyo, including industrial zones, the Watarase conservation area, and Tokyo city itself. The research details new and currently underappreciated relationships between regional economic growth, local water (in)security, and community vulnerability in Thailand and Japan.

This project is undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Takeshi Ito from the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Graduate School of Global Studies, Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan.