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Social Science and Public Policy

Material and Ideational Forces Behind Japan’s Shifting Identity in the Face of the China-US Rivalry

February 9, 2024 at 1:00pm2:30pm

Virtual (See event details)

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The Moynihan Institute’s East Asia Program presents Mary M. McCarthy from Drake University.

Japanese foreign policy has undergone significant changes in recent years. As its regional security environment has become more uncertain and dangerous in the context of evolving geopolitics globally, and as its domestic politics supports a more assertive role in the international system, Japan’s policies, institution and practices have transformed along with Japan’s security identity.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also impacted Japan’s strategic calculations and given it an opportunity to illustrate its global commitments and positions. A more assertive Japan has the potential to influence great power competition in myriad ways both through its role in the U.S.-Japan alliance (the core of each country’s strategy in the region) as well as through autonomous actions that it has exhibited a greater willingness to use. The literature on hedging, as well as abandonment versus entrapment, highlights the complexities in Japan’s relationships with both the U.S. and China—and its evolving approaches to the two.

This talk will explore the material and ideational forces behind Japan’s approach to great power competition in the region, with a focus on critical and post-structural constructivist arguments about relational constructs of the “Other” when it comes to China and the US.

Mary M. McCarthy is professor of politics and international relations at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. She specializes in Japan’s domestic and foreign policies, with a current focus on the legacies of the Asia-Pacific War on Japan’s foreign relations. She is editor of the Routledge Handbook of Japanese Foreign Policy (2018) and her most recent publications include “The US-Japan Alliance in an Era of Geopolitical and Domestic Change” in Leszek Buszynski, ed. Handbook of Japanese Security (Amsterdam University Press, 2023).

This event was published on January 8, 2024.

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