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Re-rising Japan

Its Strategic Power in International Relations


Edited By Hidekazu Sakai and Yoichiro Sato

"The lost two decades" of Japan’s economic power since the early 1990s have generated the image among scholars in the discipline of international relations (IR) that Japan is no longer a significant player. Hence, today’s IR literature focuses on the rise of China. Re-rising Japan: Its Strategic Power in International Relations challenges this trend by showing up-to-date evidence that Japan is still a major power in today’s international relations where the interests and power of the United States and China have increasingly clashed over many issues.

Indeed, since the Abe cabinet re-emerged in December 2012, there has been growing academic interest in Japan’s bold monetary/financial/social policies (Abenomics) and relatively assertive security policy. Where is Japan heading, and what path has it taken since the 2000s? This book responds to these questions.

Re-rising Japan assembles the latest studies on Japan written by today’s young and energetic scholars. It consists of three parts: (1) Geopolitics, (2) Domestic Political-Social Norms and Values, and (3) Asian Regional Integration and Institutionalizations. The individual chapters reveal what power assets Japan has and their strength and weakness in today’s international relations. Readers will attain a complete picture of Japan and its evolving new strategy in the decaying U.S. unipolar system where China has been behaving as a revisionist state.

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Chapter Ten: Joining the New Great Game? Japan’s Quest for Region Building in Central Asia (Kuniko Ashizawa)


chapter eleven


Abe’s Japan—Manifestation of a Quiet Transformation in Power and Values

Yoichiro Sato


Even to relatively seasoned observers of Japan, the country has lacked a colorful leadership image. The high turnovers of prime ministers since the late 1980s notwithstanding, memorable prime ministers have been rare in Japanese politics. From this perspective, Japan in the 2000s appears quite different. Two highly visible prime ministers, Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe, have served unusually long (by the Japanese standard) tenures. The change is no doubt partly due to their individual characters, but it is also highly plausible that their dynamic leadership is a product of more systemic factors. In this book, we have attempted to examine Japan’s increasingly active foreign and security policy from the perspectives of both external environment and internal changes in values the nation holds.

Power Dimension

Two popular books written at the concurrent peaking of Japan’s “bubble economy” and the ending of the Cold War, The Japan That Can Say No of Shintaro Ishihara, and The Coming War with Japan of George Friedman and Meredith Lebard, alerted the readers of Japan’s economic domination over and military challenge against the United States.1 The following two and a half decades have witnessed Japan with low economic growths losing its second GDP rank to the rapidly ascending←243 | 244→ China. In the hindsight, Japan’s decline has not been so unique. Slowing down of the...

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