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Abstract – In Japanese recent history, the fragmentation of the political spectrum appears as something structural of its national system. Nevertheless, beyond the exteriority of political factions and currents, a sense of eternal continuity on crucial issues seems to permeate Japanese politics and even Japanese law. This ideal continuity, also rooted in the tension between tradition and innovation characterizing the land of the Rising Sun, can be analyzed from multiple viewpoints. In this article, I will examine it according to three concepts: the role of the imperial institution, the concept of kokutai and the maintenance in power of the ruling class in time of political crisis.
Abstract – This paper aims to analyze Japan’s role in the making of APEC. Drawing on recently declassified documents of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the article will investigate the historical conditions that encouraged the establishment of an inclusive organization committed to enhancing economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, focusing on Japan’s strategic choices. While
the present regional scenario is in many respects different from the 1980s, the case-study proposed could contribute to throwing light on the dilemmas confronting Japanese diplomacy today. In particular, the debate on APEC membership, the evolution of a Japan-Australia partnership, and the development of Tōkyō’s policies in support of trade liberalization and open regionalism in the 1980s provide precious insights to better assess Japan’s response to US-China tensions as well as Tōkyō’s decisive contribution to multilateralism and trade liberalization in an increasingly contested Indo-Pacific.
Abstract – In recent years, the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept has gained popularity and created a new geographical reality, the Indo-Pacific. Despite its relatively successful performativity in this regard, this strategy, mostly aimed at containing China, originates in Japan’s continuous sense of anxiety caused by the progressive end of Cold War strategic and ideological
arrangements since the late 1970s. Clarifying the causes and modalities of recurring narrative changes since, based on previous studies on ontological security, this article seeks to contribute to the understanding of anxiety as a major driver of changes in Japan’s self-representations. To this end, several previously announced grand strategies, such as Hashimoto Ryūtarō’s “Eurasian” or “Silk Road” diplomacy and Ōhira Masayoshi’s 1980 plan to establish a system of comprehensive security and create a Pacific Community, will be discussed.
Based on official documents and biographical materials it will be showed that these ideas and policy proposals were in fact instances of Japanese leaders and policymakers’ anxiety reduction strategies and attempts at building a national image against the backdrop of a transformed or rapidly transforming international environment at the end of the Cold War.
Abstract – Japan has been regarded Southeast Asia as a vital region for its diplomatic and economic interests since almost the late 1930s. Although its diplomatic efforts to build – on a new basis – the relationship with Southeast Asia, and particularly with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), dated back to the late 1970s, as of December 1987 Takeshita Noboru’s cabinet took great pains to reinforce the economic ties and to initiate political coordination between Japan and the Association. What ensued was an ever-growing form of
co-operation affecting diplomacy, culture, trade, and infrastructure projects. The development of Japan-Philippines relations epitomised this new flourishing approach. The bilateral connection with the Philippines as of 1986, until the 1998 at least, demonstrated how much important was for Japan to keep good neighbourhood policy strong at its southern flank. The aim of this paper is twofold: on the one hand, it examines the evolution of Japan-ASEAN/Southeast Asia relations within the space of almost a decade, from the enunciation of the «Takeshita doctrine» to the Hashimoto Ryūtarō’s government. On the other, it traces Japan’s path towards the enhancement of relationship with the Philippines from the fall of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime until the Fidel V. Ramos administration. This paper argues that Tōkyō contributed decisively both to the process of democratisation in the Philippines and to the development of the southern region of Mindanao.
Abstract – Narratives emphasizing “universal” and “shared” values as well as “democracy,” “human rights,” “the rule of law,” and “freedom” are a staple in Japanese foreign policy and are ubiquitous to the extent that any discussion of a Japanese “Grand Strategy” must relate to them. At the same time, there is plenty of evidence that Japan’s own democracy is challenged at home. Where does this discrepancy come from? Most previous research has ignored the narratives themselves, rather focusing on the policies they underpin. Ontological security scholarship has shown that a strive for autonomy – an identity as an important state – undergirds contentious political issues in Japan, and that this autonomy narrative constituted the universal values narrative during the governments of Abe Shinzo. Drawing on that work, this paper seeks complete the picture on what this narrative means to Japan? The paper first uses previous research to examine the roots of the autonomy narrative, and how words from the values narrative and the autonomy narrative started appearing together at the same time as the rise of the traditionally anti-mainstream faction (Seiwaken) of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Second, the article examines MOFA Bluebooks and speeches by the prime minister in the years 2008-2012, to see whether and to what extent the narrative on values during this period was constituted similar to the way it was during the Abe governments. The result is mixed: there were similarities, but the narrative was less prominent during 2008-2012. The paper argues that the
results corroborate that a combined values/autonomy narrative has gained a measure of dominance in Japanese foreign policy, and that an ontological security framework that is sensitive to multiple ontological insecurities within states might allow future research to understand what lies behind the differences between the Abe governments, and the governments in 2008-2012.
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