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15.01.2016 г.

Summary of the book "Japan's Foreign Policy Priorities in the Asia Pacific"

Dmitry Streltsov

In the postwar period Japan passed a long way from the country that lost in the war and lay in ruins to a prosperous democratic state, one of the indubitable political and economic leaders of the region and the globe. In the military and political areas Japan made the alliance with the United States the cornerstone of its foreign policy. In the period of the cold war, against the background of global bipolarity system, Japan positioned itself as a part of the Western world which was in opposition to the Communist bloc.

After growing into the second world economic power in late 1960-s Japan for a long period of time failed to realize its potential as a global political leader. Since the end of the Second World War Japan, finding herself in the shadow of the United States, her senior partner in the security treaty, consistently carried out the Yoshida doctrine.

In its security policy, Japan was in an ambiguous position. On the one hand, Japan positioned itself as a pacifist power which proclaimed the renunciation of war as a means of solving international disputes and which carried the moral obligations as the unique country that had suffered from the use of atomic weapons. On the other hand, after accepting the security guarantees from the United States, Japan de facto recognized the legitimacy of the use of American military power, including the nuclear weapons, for protecting it against external aggression.

The largest watershed in the history of Japanese foreign policy in the postwar period was the end of the bipolar period. Disintegration of the socialist system caused the identity crisis of the strategic alliance with America which had formed the basis of the entire foreign policy of postwar Japan.

The development of economic and strategic situation after the end of cold war has repeatedly confirmed for Japan the importance of its relations with the United States. The Japan-US military alliance acquired an additional value in Japan's eyes in light of new challenges in the field of military security facing her in East Asia. Among them are the missile and nuclear development program of the DPRK involving a series of nuclear tests held since 2006, and the aggravation of territorial dispute with China, which after 2010 has entered the phase of an open armed conflict.

However, Japan started gradually deviating herself from the pacifist status and turning into a ‘normal state' void of any restrictions over full-fledged military up-building. In its national security policy Tokyo took a course of the intensification of military component. This course is justified by global developments on the world scene, first of all by the economic weakening of the United States and their inability to cope alone with the task of securing the interests of the Western community all over the world. There are growing concerns in Japan related to China's military rise and the development of Pyongyang's nuclear program, as well as to the general instability in the international relations of East Asia.

Japan's relations with her Asian neighbors remained extremely complicated and tense. Japan continued the geopolitical rivalry with China. The political climate of bilateral relations was negatively affected by the unsolved problem of Senkaku/Diaoyudao. A serious diplomatic problem for Japan was comprised by her territorial conflicts with neighbors rooted in the legacy of the Second World War. These conflicts emerged as a result of the San Francisco Peace Treaty that had failed to provide Japan with legally impeccable system of state borders. The current state of these conflicts which in most cases has a deep historical background is addressed in this book.

A large part of Japan's relations with China and South Korea falls on the outstanding historical issues of the Second World War, including the problem of formal apologies, the problem of history textbooks, the problem of ‘comfort women', as well as the issue of Japan's penance for the aggressive policy on the mainland, which in a broader sense retains its vitality on the international agenda. Many of these problems, lacking any perspectives for solution, in recent years have caused a significant deterioration of the political climate in Japan's relations with her neighbours and even a freeze of the high level political dialogue.

A significant impact to Japan's policy in the Asia-Pacific region is provided by the domestic political considerations. They include the rise of nationalism, the growth of popularity of rightist ideology and its use by the political parties represented in the Parliament, as well as the appearance of new generations of Japanese that do not remember the atrocities of the WWII. Of great significance also is the growth of populism in politics, forcing the state administration to make decisions, including those in the sphere of foreign policy, which do not necessarily corresponds to the national interests and address primarily the nationalist feelings of the electorate.

A special research issue tackled in the book deals with the institutional foundations of the Japanese diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region, namely the characteristic features of the foreign policy decision-making process in postwar Japan and the place and the role of each policy-making institution in the formulation and implementation of Japan's foreign policy priorities in the Asia-Pacific region. A study of the foreign policy decision-making process requires good understanding of the eternal dialectic between its external and internal factors. For Japan, the enforcement of internal factors in the foreign policy decision-making process was also facilitated by the fact that the very notion of national interests had been shaped in the context of domestic needs, especially the need for economic growth and integrated national security.

A special attention is also paid in the book to Japan's participation in the processes of economic integration in the Asia Pacific region over the past two decades, which has become an imperative for Japan. Given that more than half of the country's GDP is still ensured by export, the overall state of Japanese economy depends largely on the preferential arrangements in the sphere of foreign trade. The book explores the problem of Japan's accession to the Transpacific Partnership and other multilateral economic integration mechanisms. A serious academic problem lies in Tokyo's policy towards major international political formats of the Asia-Pacific region, and first of all APEC. In addition, the book addresses the issue of ODA, namely, how Japan uses the tools of development assistance to defend her own economic and political interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

A special place in the foreign policy priorities of postwar Japan in the Asia-Pacific region was held by her relations with Russia. This is due to the fact that after the end of cold war relations with Russia have acquired a particular importance for Japan's national interests in the context of the relative weakening of her regional and global role, as well as severing of the problem of energy resources, as Russia started to gain the role of key energy supplier to Japan.

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