Japans Reluctant Realism: Foreign Policy Challenges in an Era of Uncertain Power

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Japan’s Foreign Security Relations and Policies - Oxford Handbooks

Setser August 8, Women and Economic Growth. Skip to main content. More on: Japan Asia Politics and Government Japan's increasing independence, Green argues, has spurred an emerging strategic view, what he calls "reluctant realism," that is shaped by a combination of changes in the international environment, insecurity about national power resources, and Japanese aspirations for a national identity that moves beyond the legacy of World War II. Walter F. Mondale No single alliance is more important than that with Japan.

In the second chapter, he reviews the changes in key domestic institutions that have a role in the conduct of Japanese foreign policy. This discussion is cogent, if somewhat brief. For his case studies in the book, Green devotes a chapter to each of the following areas: Japan relations with China, with the Korean peninsula, with the former Soviet Union, and with Southeast Asia; Japan in regional multilateral forums; and Japan's response to the Asian financial crisis.

The China Factor in Japan’s Grand Strategy: The Impact on the Korean Peninsula

These are well worth reading for the concise, well-informed narratives they offer about Japanese attempts to take initiatives in each of these areas during the s. Each chapter ends predictably with the same conclusion: the United States needs to engage Japan more fully in dialogue. To illustrate this pattern, the following excerpts are taken from the closing paragraphs of the first three case studies relations with China, the Korean peninsula, and the former Soviet Union : "each side [the United States and Japan] should be working harder to coordinate approaches" p.

In a nutshell, Green wants to show how Japan's desire to become more independent and assertive in its regional setting played out during the s. He points out that these Japanese initiatives either went unnoticed or, even worse, were unceremoniously shot down by a United States irked by unwanted Japanese interference in its own agendas.

Japan's Reluctant Realism

Green argues that in the former case, the United States risks losing control of Japanese and regional agendas, while in the latter case, it causes Japan to lose face and erodes the basis for the alliance. Nonetheless, Green argues that Japan's desire for a leadership role in the region is not diminished-it will only grow stronger with time, and Japan will continue to develop initiatives with or without the United States. Green would prefer that Japan develop a regional leadership role with U. The key to this happening is policy consultation and coordination before either side makes an initiative.

What is needed is a U. If the United States subcontracts certain roles to Japan, then Japan will have an outlet for regional initiative that will satisfy its desire for a higher leadership profile within the confines of U. Standing back from this argument, it is clear Japan's foreign policy is viewed primarily in relation to U.

The Grand Strategy of Japan, 1919 - 1941

It is not treated as an independent topic of intrinsic interest. From his tone, the author understands and is sympathetic toward Japan, but he seems mainly driven by a desire to harness Japan to better serve U. Academic concerns such as Japan's puzzling passivity and anomalous dependence on the United States, the roots of anti-U. Instead, the book squarely addresses the question of what is to be done with Japan in the here-and-now if the United States is intent on running global affairs. It goes without saying that this kind of intellectual effort has been a key part of the development of Japanese studies in the United States.

But it also must be said that the values and aims embodied in this kind of project are increasingly called into question in academic circles. Nevertheless, this book will have much value for U.

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