Perhaps consistent basis for understanding Japanese foreign policy Here

Perhaps the most essential scholarly
input when attempting to understand Japan’s foreign policy comes from Richard
Samuels. Samuels highlights the difficulty in pinpointing an exact
historical model that might help explain the trajectory of Japanese strategic
thinking and where it might be heading. On the one hand, an interesting notion
that presents itself within Japanese strategic thinking is the tendency to
practice “karaoke” diplomacy, one where the United States sets the music and
the lyrics, and the Japanese decided what to wear and how to sing. However, Samuels
also points to other instances in history where that is hardly the case—the
Japanese have shown themselves to have a talent for dexterity when it comes to
maneuvering their strategic environment, particularly in their participation in
the international community.

also notes the important influence of American foreign policy on the
formulation of Japanese grand strategy—American exceptionalism serves to
complicate its formulation. Japanese security discourse is concerned with
vulnerability and decline but the options presented are complicated:
continental or maritime strategy, strength or wealth, Asia or Europe, existence
as a great power or a lesser power?1 The
question of prestige and the formulation of a grand strategy rooted in respect
is becoming more critical for Japanese strategists and politicians alike. A
movement towards independence from the United States would perhaps be a move
towards repairing relationships with Asia, though one could argue that this
perhaps poses the most significant challenge for Tokyo. While Samuels is unique
in his detailed assessment of the multidimensional nature of Japanese strategic
thinking, and details the number of challenges currently influencing Japan’s
formation of a grand strategy, he settles on the notion that Japanese foreign
policy has undeniably been consistently realist, and that any attempts to
characterize it as “reluctant realism” are the product of “insufficient
attention to agency, unwarranted assumptions about the consensual nature of
Japanese politics, and an under appreciation of the political process in

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much of the scholarly discourse settles on Japan’s reluctance to use force,
commitment to economic tools, and the US-Japan security alliance as a
consistent basis for understanding Japanese foreign policy



I plan to set up an alternative explanation to my hypothesis, which is that
Japan is behaving in such a way that is in line with a baseline realist
approach or rather a strategic approach centered on reluctant realism.

2: Establishing the Constructivist Approach

            Because I seek to argue that an
analysis of Japan’s changing foreign policy is incomplete without understanding
the constraining effect of national identity, I must establish a general
theoretical framework of constructivism here, followed by specific examples. Following
those explanations, it then becomes necessary to delve into theory about
national identity.

1 Samuels, R. J. (2008). Securing Japan: Tokyo’s Grand
Strategy and The Future of East Asia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

2 (Samuels)