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Japanese Foreign Polices from Neorealist View

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Regarding Japan’s pacifism and lack of legitimate military forces, it is quite simple enough to recognize that Japanese foreign policies are based on liberal beliefs, as pointed out that “others of a more liberal bent have labeled Japan the precursor of the pacifist nations of the future”.

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Since the defeat of the WWII, Japan has focused on anti-war pacifism, along with the “Three Non-Nuclear Principles” which states that “Japan shall neither possess nor manufacture nuclear weapons, nor shall it permit their introduction into Japanese territory”. Because the constitution was made by Americans who were rather liberalists at the time, Japan focused on regional peace, cooperation, and economic recovery”. From the liberalist perspective, Japan has enjoyed peace and economic growth through international cooperation, especially during the times of Shigeru Yoshida, the father of “Yoshida Doctrine”.

As the 2nd highest funder of the United Nations and the 4th highest provider of ODA in the world, the Official Development Assistance, Japan spontaneously participates in global institutions and peace keeping around the world. To encounter the rising threat of China both politically and economically, Japan has devoted its power in strengthening ties with foreign nations, especially Asian nations. As the largest ODA supplier to the ASEAN, Japan has been building up connection with them for the past several decades. It is geographically significant for Japan to cooperate with ASEAN for maintaining order and peace in East Asia, by blocking the sea route for China to expand its presence around the south China sea and beyond to the Pacific, aiming to create regional stability. Furthermore, TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, is also a method of strengthening cooperation with nations around the Pacific. Through numerous methods including the two mentioned above, Japan is attempting to bring peace in Asia.

Furthermore, Japan has participated and hosted international institutional frameworks even outside of Asia. It is not just a member of myriads of international institutions starting with UN, OECD, IMF, but supplies one of the highest amounts of monetary support to each single institution. The most prestigious is certainly the G7 summit, and the fact that Japan is the only member from Asia represents Japan’s role as a leader of international cooperation. One example of Japan hosting an international framework for cooperation is the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, better known as TICAD. This is a conference mainly focused on African development and Japanese support towards them. Such efforts on international affairs could be explained through neoliberal institutionalism. According to their theory, international institutions function to promote and vitalize global cooperation for solving complex issues like poverty, global warming, etc. Approaches on issues through such institutions have advantages of economies of scale, and burden sharing.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been showing signs to strengthen the Japanese hard power by changing the Self Defense Force to a National Defense Army, and participating in collective defense with neighboring allies. This process could also be analyzed from a liberalist approach. The purpose of bolstering military power is to make more commitment to international military cooperation such as the collective pacifism mentioned above. By being able to offer a form of military support for the allies, Japan could perhaps create much more concrete relationship with them.

Now, it is also certainly appropriate to analyze Japanese foreign polices from neorealist view. Looking from a totally different angle at the Japanese foreign policies from a neorealist approach might not look logical at first sight, as Japanese pacifism seems to value international cooperation rather than seeking power and hegemony. Nevertheless, as Mayer states “Some, following the logic of neorealism, have identified Japan as the next military superpower, one which will inevitably acquire nuclear weapons and force projection cap abilities “, Japan’s post war behavior and its relationship with the United States could be defined realistic.

In the structure of the international relations and its system, Japan accurately seeks national interest and power. Alliance with the U.S. is just a form of an efficient way to achieve drastic economic growth and leadership as fast as possible. Yoshida and Japan focused just on economic recovery and growth, by eliminating burden of military expenditures and expansion. By cooperating with the U.S., Japan maximized its interest in the most effective and efficient way possible. From the military perspective, as Japan has been in an alliance with the U.S., the tension during the cold war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which is followed by the recent tension between the U.S and China, could certainly be example of Japan participating in the balance of power in East Asia and the Pacific.

This strategy is in fact known as the “buck-passing”. As John Mearsheimer describes “balancing and buck-passing are the main strategies that states employ to defend the balance of power against aggressors”, it is the strategy to avoid confronting a threat and expect other nation states to do so. What seems like a pacific strategy and abstinence of conflicts is potentially a way of maximizing its national interest.

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Japanese Foreign Polices From Neorealist View. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/japanese-foreign-polices-from-neorealist-view/
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Japanese Foreign Polices From Neorealist View. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/japanese-foreign-polices-from-neorealist-view/> [Accessed 19 Apr. 2021].
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