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Pursuing a Major Power Role: Realism with the US and Idealism with Europe in Japan's Post-Cold War Foreign Policy


Journal: Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies
ISSN 1476-9158

Volume: 2005;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: foreign policy | diplomacy | foreign relations | EU | Europe | Japan

This article analyses Japan's move towards becoming a major power after the end of the Cold War, by way of examining how Japan adds an 'idealist' approach through its relations with Europe to the 'realist' one, pursued in its partnership with the US. After 1989, the military alliance with the US has remained crucial to the country's national security and the pursuit of a realist foreign policy towards Washington has, therefore, continued to be a priority for Tokyo. In this context, Japan has expanded its role within the bilateral security arrangement and has further strengthened it since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US. At the same time, Japan has pursued throughout the 1990s an idealist foreign policy towards the EC/EU, through the development of a Euro-Japanese human centred and non-military security cooperation. Since the start of the 2000s, however, Japan has expanded its military profile, showed a greater willingness to engage in security and defence matters, and embarked on revising its peace constitution. Although it may seem that Tokyo has moved towards pursuing more realism with the US at the expense of idealism with Europe, this article argues that the non-military partnership with the EU is also important for Japan in that it facilitates the country's transformation from a 'reactive' to a 'proactive' state, which is encouraged by the military alliance with the US.
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