|1 Cassidy James
Japan Research Compilation
1) What seem to be the major foreign policy goals, interests, objectives of your group? Why? Are there any particular domestic problems in your nation with strong implications for your foreign policy objectives?
There are several major foreign policy goals facing Japan today. The main problems that face Japan are globalization, growing threats in East Asia, and energy. Most of the major powers today face similar problems, except in regards to East Asia. Japan’s geographic location near East Asia, close alliance with the United States, and strong capitalist economy puts it in direct conflict with what has been going on in their neighboring countries.
The People’s Republic of China and North Korea are the two biggest threats that Japan faces. The growing Chinese economy and North Korean nuclear programs are providing a challenge to both Japanese security and economic prosperity. Since the end of U.S occupation, Japan has built up an economy which now ranks 2nd in total GNP, and 4th in exported materials. Despite the political/historical tension between the two nations, Japan is trying to work out economic peace. Japan has heavily invested in China’s development, and in doing so hollowed out their economy; Japan now is trying to actually build back its economy so it is attractive to foreign investment.
In addition to trying to build better economic relationships between its neighbors, Japan is starting to feel insecure. Since U.S occupation ended in the early 1950’s, there has been a big-brother little-brother relationship between the U.S and Japan. Japan is under America’s nuclear umbrella, and would be defended if attacked. However, Japan is worried that the U.S is looking increasingly weak in the world, and might not be there for their protection. Starting in the Vietnam War, and continuing through efforts today in Iraq, Japan is not seeing the U.S army as the serious protector that they thought they were. But Japan is not going so far as to build up a large standing army. Bad memories of the past are still very prevalent, as the majority of citizens in the country want Japan to continue its pacifist role in world affairs.
Japanese military intervention in Cambodia, as part of a United Nation peacekeeping effort gave Japan a new direction in their military. Japan now favors using its military for peacekeeping missions, but will not use military force as a means of settling national disputes. Japan even figures that it would cost more than it would benefit to build up an army. Building a modern army today is not cheap, and Japan figures that the security benefits a larger army would bring would not offset the financial costs to the country. Japan has also toyed with the idea of going nuclear (mainly in terms of power though), but past experiences have put a damper on that. That doesn’t mean that Japan is not trying to work and stop the nuclear build up in North Korea. Japan is very insecure about its security, not exactly paranoid, but it is understandable to see a nation with very small armed forces to be worried. Japan is going to rely on heavy intelligence gathering, and counter terrorism measures for future policy.
Another problem/interest of the Japanese government is the process of globalization. After an economic collapse in the early to mid 1990’s, and after being the second most powerful economic country in the 1980’s, Japan has seen a resurgence of the United States. Japan has not adapted as well as it would have liked to, to the internet boom of the late 1990’s, and early 21st century. The U.S got an early lead on information technologies, mainly the internet, and some Japanese officials estimate that America even controls over 60% of the market. Japan is going to try and “catch up” to the U.S and maybe rival the country like it did in the 1980’s once again in the future.
Energy is also a problem for the Japanese government, as it is for most of the rest of the world, and with Japan leery about going to nuclear power; Japan is trying to be less dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Instead Japan is trying to get oil from other places like Russia, and Africa. Japan today, as it has been since the end of U.S occupation, is a major contributor of foreign aid. Japan contributes lots of Official Developmental Assistance to places all around the world. The problem is where the aid that Japan gives ends up, and this problem is the biggest in China. Japan will have to prioritize which regions in the world receive aid, and how much aid they will receive.
The environment is also a concern for the Japanese. Japan was not happy that the U.S did not sign the Kyoto protocol, and are also concerned with the fact that their neighbor, China, is the biggest polluter in East Asia. Industrialization and the effects of it have been problematic for Japanese cities, which have high levels of pollution. Japan is going to try and lead more international involvement with the environment, and global warming. Japan also is trying harder to understand foreign culture. Domestically Japan has a very strong culture, but is trying to get more students to study in their country, and they in turn are trying to study the rest of the world better. Though many of its citizens do favor a more active Japan on the world seen, the rest are quite content with its role as a major economic power that participates in world aid and peace programs.
Domestically the people of Japan have pushed them to be more of a political and economic contributor to the world. There have been smaller movements to be more assertive in world affairs, but those views are still the minority and the overwhelming majority of citizens still like to think of Japan as a peaceful country. Public opinion and the mass media do make a difference in Japanese politics; with different political parties often taking different foreign stances in order to secure their piece of the vote. Businesses becoming more involved in politics due to threats by the Chinese and North Korean have also stepped up and are starting to influence policy and political decisions. Business interests and a feeling of insecurity are two domestic problems that have strong implications for foreign policy objectives and interests.
2. Which other nations and groups seem to be your most important “friends” or “enemies”? Why?
A) Japan’s “Friends”:
In considering whom Japan considers to be their most important “friends” it is somewhat natural and simultaneously strange to discuss, first, the United States. The US and Japan share an alliance based on shared interests and values. After the events of World War II and the tragic results of war, the United States and Japan have made many valuable agreements and treaties designed to promote cooperation and respect between the two nations. According to the US State Department, the common interests and values the US and Japan share include, but are not limited to,
“...stability in the Asia-Pacific region, the preservation and promotion of political and economic freedoms, support for human rights and democratic institutions, and securing of prosperity for the people of both countries and the international community as a whole” (U.S. State Department 2007).
Japan is home to approximately 50,000 US troops and has a mutual defense treaty with Washington in accordance with the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security (CIA World Factbook 2007). Additionally, Japan has participated significantly in the global war on terror following the horrific events of September 11, 2001, providing material and financial support to US forward deployed troops. Additionally, both nations prove to be two of the largest impacts on technological and economic developments internationally, and therefore work together on world issues such as development assistance, protecting the environment and natural resources, and collaborate in a broad range of science and technology areas as well. The US relies on Japan as an ally in it’s very cautious dealings with potentially volatile Asian nations such as North Korea and Japan strongly supports the US efforts regarding nuclear non-proliferation and other nuclear issues (U.S. State Department 2007).
Economically, the US and Japan exhibit strong relations as well. These two nations operate on a bilateral economic relationship based on an enormous amount of trade, investment, and finance in both national spheres. According to the U.S. State Department, US foreign investment in Japan is essential to the stability of the Japanese economy as well as the US economy, with “especially significant investment in financial services, internet services and software which generate new export opportunities for US companies and employment for US workers” (U.S. State Department 2007). Japanese tourism in the United States has reached upwards of $13 billion, and Japan is one of the largest markets for US products, significantly relying on the US as the largest foreign market for US agricultural products. The US, as a Japan export partner, contributes approximately 22.8% of exports to the region (CIA World Factbook 2007). Essentially, Japan and the US cooperate and collaborate in such a manner that allow both countries extended security and stability militarily, economically and otherwise.
Another nation to be considered when outlining Japan’s most important “friends” would be Australia, also a bitter enemy of the Japanese during World War II. After negotiations and the signing of the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Co-Operation between Japan and Australia in 1976, both nations share complementary trade links and a common interest in Asian-Pacific regional stability and prosperity. Prior to the signing of the Friendship treaty in 1976, Japan and Australia cooperated and formulated other agreements related to commerce, taxation, culture and nuclear energy (The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan 2007). In March of 2007, the Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia signed a security pact designed to enhance military cooperation between the two nations and in an attempt to further stabilize the Asian-Pacific region. According to the British Broadcast Corporation, “The four part agreement...sets out priorities for co-operation on counter-terrorism activities, maritime security, border protection and disaster relief” (British Broadcast Corporation 2007). Although both nations have growing concerns relating to North Korean nuclear and missile testing as well as China’s increasing military capabilities, this specific pact is not aimed at any one entity or nation and is not a mutual defense treaty.
Economically, trade between Japan and Australia has been increasing after a period of stability throughout the 1980's. Japan is now the largest export market for Australia and ranks second in Australia’s imports. Australia ranks third among Japan’s total imports with a share of approximately 4.8%, and tenth as an export destination with a share of approximately 2.4% total exports. Japan is Australia’s largest trading partner and the third largest source of direct investment in Australia (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 2007).
B) Japan’s “Enemies”:
In an attempt to identify Japan’s “enemies” one must consider the many issues between Japan and other nations or groups, however, the most prominent and continuing conflicts seem to lie with with several specific nations, including Russia. As a continuation of tensions formed during the existence of the USSR, and primarily over a territorial dispute involving the Kuril Islands, Japan and Russia remain unresolved in issues regarding a peace treaty after World War II. The Northern Territories dispute has hindered many attempts to improve relations with Russia and continuing small conflicts have only deteriorated any efforts that have been successful. Although Japan joined the Group of Seven in providing some technical and financial assistance to Russia, couple with promises made by both sides to dissolve the Northern Territories dispute, there is no clear end in sight.
Another important enemy to illustrate is North Korea, who Japan has limited economic and commercial ties with in light of continuing conflicts over Japanese abductions and nuclear testings by North Korea. North Korea and Japan have maintained undiplomatic relations since the 1980's, with the exception of the Japanese opposition Socialist party who kept ties with the North Korean regime (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 2007). Japan has allowed unofficial trade to take place with North Korea, however, has imposed sanctions against the region following tensions related to Japanese citizens abductions and, most importantly, North Korean nuclear testing. Because Japan practices and promotes nuclear non-proliferation as well as the peaceful use of nuclear energy, North Korea’s testings have created an uneasy feeling within the Japanese leadership. According to the US State Department “Japan strongly supported the United States in it’s efforts to encourage Pyongyang to abide by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 2007). These, among other small conflicts between the two regions, have created the description of enemy for North Korea.
Outside of nation-states that could be considered either friends or enemies to Japan, there are several non-state actors to include. As a member of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations are important organizations to discuss in relation to Japan. The World Trade Organization and Japan’s participation in such allows a semi-lucrative and secure trade ground, however, good willed initiatives such as anti-dumping procedures run the risk of costing Japan, along with many other WTO members, money. In the same respect, Japan’s increased strategic dialogue and involvement with the UN has proved lucrative for the nation, promoting non-proliferation, security, WMD’s and other issues including terrorism. Japan has worker diligently within the role of providing and sustaining international peace and security, an ideal that the UN and other member’s generally share.
3) To what extent do the five domestic variables affect the foreign policies of your country? To what extent to these domestic variables help in understanding the manner in which domestic problems in your nation are/or are not having an effect on your foreign policy objectives and interests?
The idiosyncratic domestic variable for leaders of Japan is probably not as important as the variable of role. Just like in the U.S., the Japanese have leaders of both conservative and liberal backgrounds. Many modern leaders have a strong sense of nationalism. Many leaders also want to maintain the Japanese culture and not lose their way of life as they become more globalized. No matter what their background, government officials have defined roles, and there are expectations from the public for them to act accordingly within these roles.
The current prime minister is Yasuo Fukuda. He is known for being able to build consensus among people and being a mild mannered moderate. Fukuda emphasizes the importance of building strong ties with the rest of Asia, especially China. He is seen as cautious when it comes to matters of the military, but looks to expand on more public programs. Although he is not really charismatic, it is said that he tends to follow his own way of thinking. Before entering politics Fukuda worked for an oil company.
The emperor is an important figure in Japanese politics. In the postwar era the role of emperor has been reduced in status and the amount of power they have. The postwar constitution of Japan limits the role of emperor to more of a symbolic status. Within the government, the conservatives tend to want an expansion of this role but the liberals and leftists wish for this role to remain narrow. The public tends to see the emperor as no more than a symbol of the monarchy.
The political system of Japan is founded under the Constitution made in 1947. The House of Councillors (Upper House) and the House of Representatives (Lower House) make up the Diet (legislative branch). The officials of each house are elected by the public. Executive power is the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The judiciary branch is where the laws are exercised in court. There are party coalitions that help keep leaders in power, and historically the Liberal Democratic Party has had control of the government. Although many people in Japan refer to their Constitution and form of government as something that was forced on them by the U.S., there have not been any major reforms or proposals to do so, which suggests that this form of government is competent.
The global images of Japan’s society are of modernization and westernization. Within this society there is a core of people that are very privileged and usually have permanent jobs with large corporations. Then there is a middle class made up of pretty much the same type of people as in the U.S. Migrant workers and minorities tend to comprise most of the lower class and poor. Status is very important in Japanese society. The broad values of this society place emphasis on family life and being part of a village or nation, consensus and agreement, and the idea of hierarchy where seniority is not only accepted but seen as important. Although Japan is largely seen as homogenous, there are actually different “types” of Japanese, which means there are minorities. There is also a divide between the rural villagers and the urban population. There is class inequality in Japan, however most Japanese view themselves as middle class.
Japan has unique systemic domestic variables. The geography of Japan is a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean. Japan is about 500 miles off the coast of China and about 100 miles off the coast of the Korean peninsula. There are four main islands, surrounded by several smaller ones. Japan is about 150,000 square miles, and the furthest point inland from the coasts is only 80 miles. Geography affects the foreign policy of Japan because they are economically more powerful than the nations around them, and although Japan is small in size, their industrial influence stretches across the world.
4. What range of resources do you have available to help pursue your foreign policy objectives, including military and economic capabilities? How dependant are you on resources outside of your country?
A) Resources available:
In terms of the resources Japan has available, and in relation to the discussion of Japan’s foreign policy goals and objectives, there exists a strong compilation of economic, domestic and military resources. Economically, Japan is the second largest economy in the world measuring for GDP. Japan’s industrialized, free-market economy is efficient and competitive in areas linked to international trade. Japan operates an economic system rich with a well educated work force, industrial strength, and high savings and investment rates. Since the drastic economic stagnation following WWII, and following a brief period in the 1990's, Japan’s economy continues to grow at an average rate of 2.5% per annum.
Japan has remained notably dependant on outside sources of energy and has thus aimed goals at diversifying sources. New sources include liquified natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy. In it’s non-proliferation efforts, Japan actively promotes the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and in such has explored the use of this energy to provide much needed services to their people via generating electricity and simultaneously mitigating global warming. While using stringent physical protection measures and export control mechanisms, Japan is able to promote the use of materials such as plutonium with a productive base fighting both Japan’s energy concern as well as global warming agendas.
Militarily Japan is a nation that chooses to use efforts for peacekeeping rather than peacemaking and thus has vowed not to militarily delve into the national security issues of another nation. Despite the fact that the Japanese Constitution specifically forbids the existence of a military, Japan has maintained a pseudo army in the form of a self-defense force or SDF. The SDF is robust, however, it’s expenditures are narrow and it’s focus is mostly protective, including no long range missiles or bombers, no aircraft carriers or nuclear submarines (U.S. State Department 2007). Due to severe restrictions as a result of Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution, implemented by post-WWII forces in an attempt to control Japanese military, the SDF navy and air forces are hindered significantly from possessing any weapons that render power in any shape of the word. Despite weaknesses and downfalls in the Japanese military programs, the nation has been working closely with different world powers to increase the density and power of their military. This, as well as considerations of other domestic and economic resources, allow Japan to pursue it’s goals and objectives.
5) How important is ideology to your group? How about nationalism?
Japan has a very rich history in its nationalism. Japan was once so proud that it would rather die than surrender, suffered a blow to their pride after World War II. However, after their countries economic boom in subsequent decades, the younger generation of Japanese citizens again began to feel a strong nationalistic pride. Today Japan’s nationalism derives from a desire to develop a more independent foreign policy (of the U.S), and increase its military capabilities. The memories of the old Japan are fading away, and all Japan has to do is look to the west to see a growing and more mobilized China to start to increase their pride. Japan’s lack of faith in the United States to protect them in case of a war (due to Iraq), has caused leaders in Japan to try and install more nationalism in its citizens in order to draw support for a military buildup. Today Japan is even omitting portions of the war autocracies it committed against China, in its history books. Other countries around Japan, namely China and Korea, are increasing pressure on Japan to include such information in their history books. This of course is fueling Japan to be even more nationalistic, based on their neighbors becoming bitter about their rising nationalism.
Overall however, ideology (especially), and nationalism do not play that strong of a role in the country. Japan does not have a dominating religion, rather several different beliefs and religions. Nationalism which spiked very high during the 1930’s, took a very serious blow after Japan’s defeat in World War II. But the younger generations of today, along with the massive economic recovery have started a new movement today for strong Japanese nationalism. Fueled by anti-Japanese rhetoric in neighboring countries this nationalism is growing, especially among the young. A lot of this nationalism is also sponsored by Japanese leaders/elites who feel that stronger nationalism is just what they need in order to try and get support for a movement to get a stronger Japanese military (in response to growing Chinese, and North Korean military). In the future this nationalism will continue to grow, and even though it doesn’t play a large part in foreign politics today (at least outside East Asia), that doesn’t mean that it wont in the future.
6) How actively are you involved with regional or global organizations and alliances? Why?
Japan is involved in many organizations and alliances. Japan is a member of the G-7, which are the most economically powerful states in the world. By being a member of the G-7 Japan can influence decisions that affect the world economy in their favor. Japan is a member of the United Nations, however they do not have a permanent seat on the Security Council due to the military restrictions placed on them in their constitution. For peacekeeping missions, Japan provides more financial assistance than any other form. Because they have a self-defense only military, Japan relies on it’s alliance with the U.S. for cooperative security. Regionally, Japan is a model of economic success and development. In order to participate in foreign direct investment regionally, they belong to ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Japan is also a member of APEC, the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation. This organization is made up of the ASEAN members together with Canada, U.S., Australia, South Korea, and China, it’s purpose is to promote trade between the member states. Japan also maintains bi-lateral cooperative ties with the European Union (EU). Japan is involved in many international treaties concerning the issue of nuclear non-proliferation. Japan is also working with more organizations dealing with issues of the environment and global warming.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. 2007. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 19 Oct. 2007. <http://www.mofa.go.jp/>
The World Factbook.2007. Central Intelligence Agency. 17 Oct. 2007.
US Department of State. .2007. United States of America. 12 Oct. 2007. <http://www.state.gov/p/eap/ci/ja/>