Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Japanese International Relations: An Assessment of the 1971-2011 Period *

Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Japanese International Relations: An Assessment of the 1971-2011 Period *

Article excerpt

Japan, overtime, consolidated herself as one of the world's economic powers. Long and perilous was the road to such outcome and the price paid was too high for comfort. Japanese economic growth, from 1868-2011, roughly 150-odd years, was astonishing. This article is intended at debating the period ranging from 1971-2011 from Japanese history, both in terms of historical events and the history of IR academic development in the country. The reason lies in perceiving how Japanese perception of herself, as a country, changed regarding International Relations. The main argument of this article is strictly correlated with these changes: IR in Japan, in academia and in practice, were influenced by the opportunities/constraints presented by the International System, to the country.

The periods are benchmarks for they represent twists in Japanese strategies to international insertion. From 1971-1991 the strategy of indigenous investments in infra-structure and productive factors' accumulation, allied with a selective FDI (foreign direct investments) portfolio was pursued in tandem with bilateral agreements. The situation began to change effectively by 1985, with the Plaza Accord. By 1991 (Cold War's end and the deranged economic situation inland due to the bursting of the 'Bubble Economy', between 1989-1990) Japanese economic strategy turned on its head. Politically, she faced new regional/global challenges, despite vowing to enhance her strategic cooperation with the US and to being more prone to multilateral strategies. The affair was a process in motion (TERRY, 2002). However, based on Terry's (2002), Henshall's (1999), Inoguchi's (1993, 1999, 2002, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013), Inoguchi's et. al. (2011), and Cai's (2008, 2010) data, I contend that the 'benchmark interpretation' yields explicative power: 1971 marked conjunctural and structural shifts in terms of world economic affairs; 1991 yielded yet more powerful shifts in international issues - conjunctural and structural - but this time in international politics and world economic affairs.

Concerning the structure of the article: firstly, I analyze the strands of thought about the International in Japan and their evolution overtime until 2011; secondly, I assess relevant historical events in Japan's International Relations from 1971-1991 and from 1991 to 2011; thirdly, I correlate the sections and conclude that yes, the development of Japanese academic and practical IR has been intensely influenced by constraints/opportunities the country faced in her relationships with the world, during 1971-2011. This points to a relevant consequence: it is hard to predict future courses for Japanese IR.

Strands of International Thought in Japan

During the first part of the 20th Century, especially prior to World War I, International Relations, academically and practically, were not held in high esteem in Japan (KAWATA and NINOMIYA, 1964). International issues were dealt with as they came about with apparel borrowed from International Law or Diplomatic History (of Japan). As for Political Science, a field of study considered by many as the basis of academic International Relations, it was not yet formed in the country. Matters that would enter its purview were tackled as extensions of domestic politics-and that with pervasive influence from German Staatslehre.

The creation of a field of International Relations in the United States and, to a lesser extent, in Europe, was dependent upon the existence of colonies, regarded as national possessions or, even, extensions, of their metropoles yet not as parts of the "homeland" (SCHMIDT, 1998). This means that whatever dwelled in colonial grounds, living or not, was state property. This feeling of juxtaposition between 'in' and 'out' was the underlying enabling premise for those countries to address the International. This did not unfold in the same way in Japan. The country was, arguably, a colonial power. Anyhow, the juxtaposition feeling was not present in terms of state thinking/posture. …

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