Call for discussants: Japan-US-China-Russia relations/Japan's search for security partnerships

Yone Sugita's picture

Dear Colleagues:

It is our honor to have Professors Yutaka Kanda (Niigata U.) and Bart Gaens (the Finnish Institute of International Affairs & Osaka U.) in Osaka on 9 January 2016 (Saturday). We are looking for discussants for both sessions. You are welcome to the seminar, but please register (free) by sending email to Yone Sugita ( Seminar papers will be ready in January and will be distributed to confirmed participants only. 


International Relations Seminar at Osaka University 

Date: 9 January 2016 (Saturday)

Venue: Office for University-Industry Collaboration (Building A), Suita Campus, Osaka University (Access map) (Suita Campus Map: #47)


Session1: 13:00 – 14:30

Professor Yutaka Kanda (Associate Professor, Niigata University)


Title: ‘Japan-US-China’ or ‘Japan-US-China-USSR’: Two different goals in postwar Japanese conservatives

Abstract: It is generally understood that there were three foreign policy lines in post-WWII Japan. They are, in Soeya Yoshihide's words, 'Cooperation' with the U.S., 'Autonomous' from the U.S., and 'Independent' from the U.S. The first line was promoted by Yoshida Shigeru and his followers, the Conservative Mainsream, putting priority on economic development and depending without hesitation on the United States with regard to security policy. This policy line was praised by 'realists' of scholars in international politics, such as Kosaka Masataka and Nagai Yonosuke, and was named the 'Yoshida Doctrine' in the early 1980s. The second line, which Kishi Nobusuke and the Conservative Tributaries advocated, was to pursue more equal relationship with the U.S., particularly by amending Article 9 of the Constitution and accomplishing rearmament. The third line was that of 'Unarmed Neutralty', supported by Japan Socialist Party.

Focusing on Japanese diplomacy toward China and the Soviet Union in the 1960s, this talk aims to shed light on the new aspects of Japanese conservatives’ foreign policy that cannot be applied by this framework. The talk is based on the presenter's book, Reisen Kozo no Henyo to Nihon no Taichu Gaiko (The Transformation of Cold War Structure and Japan's China Policy), published in 2012. As argued in this book, the difference between the Conservative Mainstream and the Conservative Tributaries was distinct in their views on the great powers surrounding Japan, China and the Soviet Union, rather than on the United States. Yoshida Shigeru and the leaders of mainstream believed that the Sino-Soviet alliance was easy to break up and Japan and the West must attempt to entice China away from the Soviet Union. The presenter called their goal as ‘Japan-US-China’ partnership. On the other hand, most of the Conservative Tributaries, including Kishi, regarded the Sino-Soviet alliance to be stable. They argued that, while it is important for Japan to improve Sino-Japanese relations, closer relationship with the Soviet Union was also essential for Japanese interest. Using the expression of the presenter’s book, they pursued ‘Japan-US-China-USSR’ cooperation. Interestingly, the 'realist' scholars shared these views with the Tributaries, rather than Yoshida and the Mainstream leaders.

Discussants: TBA


Session 2: 14:45 – 16:15

Professor Bart Gaens (Senior Research Fellow, The Finnish Institute of International Affairs & Specially-Appointed Associate Professor, Osaka University)

Title: Japan’s Search for Strategic Security Partnerships

Abstract: This presentation focuses on a core ingredient of Japan’s new security strategy, namely the search for strategic partnerships in Asia, the Indo-Pacific, and Europe in order to balance the rise of an increasingly assertive China. The Japan-US security alliance remains the crux of Japan’s defence, but in order to get a more accurate picture of Japan’s evolving stance as a regional and global player, it is vital to take into account linkages and partnerships (bilateral and multilateral, economic as well as security-oriented) with other players.

The presentation will first situate Japan in its current regional environment. Japan views China’s rise as a “complex and significant national security challenge”, forcing Tokyo to adapt to an “increasingly severe” regional security environment. China’s military growth along with its economic rise, Beijing’s assertive actions in regional maritime affairs, together with deep-rooted differences in national memory have resulted in a strongly perceived “China threat”. The more tangible threat posed by the unpredictable North Korean regime only reinforces Japan’s resolve to adjust its defence policy. As a result Japan has increased its military budget and aims to transform the SDF into “dynamic and assertive” armed forces. In order to strengthen the security alliance with the US, the Abe administration has created a National Security Council (NSC), and a contested “Designated Secrets Protection Bill” aims to facilitate intelligence sharing with US agencies.

At least as importantly, however, Japan is seeking to forge partnerships with other countries. Since the start of the twenty-first century, Japan has taken on an active role in East Asian multilateral diplomacy and political integration, driven by a strongly emerging China. It can be argued Japan has successfully placed its stamp on the institutional development of regional institutions to suit its own vision of “inclusive regionalism.” In more recent years however, Tokyo has shifted its attention to efforts to build strategic partnerships of like-minded, democratic Indo-Pacific countries that share similar anxieties about China’s growing naval might. It is the aim of this presentation to examine this policy shift, and assess Japan’s engagement with South Korea, India, Australia, ASEAN and the EU, especially in the light of China’s economic diplomacy. The presentation will look at the underlying drivers and impediments of Japan’s burgeoning “strategic partnerships”.

Discussants: TBA