Japanese-Soviet/Russian Relations since 1945: Difficult Peace

Japanese-Soviet/Russian Relations since 1945: Difficult Peace

Japanese-Soviet/Russian Relations since 1945: Difficult Peace

Japanese-Soviet/Russian Relations since 1945: Difficult Peace

Synopsis

Kimie Hara explores the problems underlying foreign policy decision-making between Japan and Russia since 1945, including the infamous "Northern Territories dispute.

Excerpt

As the new century approaches, Japan is going through a turbulent period in which some of her most entrenched political and economic institutions and practices are increasingly being questioned. The financial crisis which began in the latter half of 1997 affected most of the so-called ‘tiger economies’ of East and Southeast Asia, and did not spare Japan. The collapse of several important Japanese financial institutions signalled both that the system was in crisis but also that the Government was no longer willing or able to rescue ailing institutions. The sense of crisis quickly dulled the lustre of the ‘Asian model’ in the eyes of the world’s media, but it also concentrated minds within Japan on the task of reforming the system. The extent to which the system needed reforming remained a matter of sharp dispute, but a consensus was emerging that many entrenched practices deriving from the immediate post-war period of the ‘economic miracle’ needed to be radically rethought. As of July 1998, the extent and timescale of the desired revolution remains in doubt. Defeat of his party in the Upper House on 12th July forced the resignation of the Prime Minister, but whether this would accelerate or retard reform remained in doubt. Elements of the old regime seemed to be falling apart, but the shape of the new was still but dimly discernable.

Reading the world’s press in the aftermath of the financial crisis, one could well have formed the impression that East Asia (including Japan) was heading for collapse and that the world could safely direct its attention elsewhere, notably to the dynamic and successful market economies of North America and Europe. Such an impression, however, would have been greatly exaggerated. Japan and its surrounding region remained a zone of intense economic production and interaction, resourceful and dynamic. Though there was a financial crisis, the economy remained massive in size and diversity, retaining great economic power both regionally and globally. Radical reform was needed, but historical experience suggested that the capacity of Japan to reform itself—even though it might take some while— . . .

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