IV-6.”Politics of Exile: Comparative Studies on the International Legitimacy/Powerbase of Political Leaders”(H23 FY2011)

  • Project Leader : Aizawa Nobuhiro (Institute of Developing Economies, JETRO)
  • Collaborators : Okamoto Masaaki (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University)
  • : Miyagi Taizo (Graduate School of Global Studies, Sophia University)
  • : Machikita Tomohiro (Institute of Developing Economies, JETRO)
  • : Yamao Dai (Graduate School of Social and Cultural Studies, Kyushu University)
  • : Hinata Syunsuke (Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University)
  • : Kojima Takahiro (Center of Integrated Area Studies, Kyoto University)

Outline of Research

This project aims to make a comparative and historical analysis of National leaders and monarchs who were exiled in times of drastic political transition. The main scope of the research is on Southeast Asia from the colonial period until present, and will supplement a comparative study on cases outside Southeast Asia, mainly from Middle East, South Asia and East Asia. Through this analysis, we seek to understand the role of international legitimacy/powerbase of national leaders and monarchs, and the cleavages between the leaders and the nation that surface in the final days of their power.


The post power life of post-war dictators, especially in Southeast Asia has various patterns. Most of them enjoy a comfortable life in luxury like Suharto did, some were held in de facto custody like Sukarno and Pol Pot and few were assassinated like Ngo Dinh Diem. As they all died in the soil they were once leader of, there are other groups of people who ended their political lives differently by running away. In other words, through seeking exile. In Southeast Asia, Phibun, Pridi and Marcos would be the best known cases of exiled leaders who fled and died in a foreign country. Thaksin is also now in what many call in “self-exile” avoiding jail following the Thai court ruling and trying to attempt “remote governance.” So why the different choices in their final days in power among these leaders? And why exiled to a particular country? Why Phibul went to Japan (Via Cambodia) and Pridi went to China (and then to France)? Why Thaksin in Dubai?

Through a comparative study of these leaders, we aim to understand the international network and the international political platforms of the national leaders. Most nations in Southeast Asia actually required acknowledgement and money from foreign countries such as U.S., Soviet Union, Japan, In gaining power and in cementing its power, foreign powers were indeed useful and necessary but differed by leaders as to what extent did foreign support mean in saving its power and ultimately saving lives.

Extensive research has been carried out on exiles of anti-regimes, anti-royal monarchs and dissidents. Biographies of Marcos, Phibun, Pridi are all well written, but we do not have a comparative study to portray the whole idea of the foreign basis/obstacles of these leaders’ power. We do not know what Suharto thought of exile, despite his record of brutality when he was president.

Together with political scientists, historians, economists, we will conduct an interdisciplinary research on why or why not they were exiled and try to understand their political implications.

Ex-President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos in Exile in Hawaii, USA. He fled to Hawaii in February 1986 after the EDSA Revolution.

Ex-Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra in exile in Dubai, UAE. He fled after being ousted by a coup d’état in 2006.