History and hierarchy : the foreign policy evolution of modern Japan
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This thesis examines the foreign policy evolution of Japan from the time of its modernization during the mid-nineteenth century though the present. It is argued that infringements upon Japanese sovereignty and geopolitical vulnerabilities have conditioned Japanese leaders towards power seeking policy objectives. The core variables of statehood, namely power and sovereignty, and the perception of state elites are traced over this broad time period to provide a historical foundation for framing contemporary analyses of Japanese foreign policy. To facilitate this research, a unique framework that accounts for both the foreign policy preferences of Japanese leaders and the external constraints of the international system is developed. Neoclassical realist understandings of self-help and relative power distributions form the basis of the presented analysis, while constructivism offers crucial insights into ideational factors that influence state elites. Social Identity Theory, a social psychology theory that examines group behavior, is integrated to conceptualize the available policy options. Surveying Japanese foreign policy through this framework clarifies the seemingly irreconcilable shifts in Japan’s foreign policy history and clearly delineates between political groups that embody distinct policy strategies and norms. Consequently, the main contribution of this thesis lies in the development of a theoretical framework that is uniquely positioned to identify historical trends in foreign policy. Owing to the numerous shifts in modern Japan’s foreign policy history, this research identifies and examines three distinguishable Japanese “states”: Meiji Japan (1868 - 1912), Imperial Japan (1912 - 1945), and postwar Japan (1945 - present).
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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