Modern Japanese Diplomacy


Shotaro OSHIMA

Credits / Language / Semester

2Credits / English / Winter


Course Description:
The course “Modern Japanese Diplomacy” will be looking at Japan’s “diplomacy/foreign policy in the ‘modern’ era.”

It will approach this subject by asking how major international political events/upheavals, such as wars and revolutions, shaped the strategic environment which directly or indirectly impinged on Japan’s security, and in what manner Japan responded to such challenges.

“The ‘Modern’ era” will be defined as post-1815 period up to the present, but most of the focus will be on post-1945 world scene.
It will begin by looking at the European imperialist encroachment of Asia, which led to Japan’s “opening”, and then cover developments leading up to the Second World War.
Major focus will be on the strategic environment in this region after the Second World War until the end of the Cold War.
Much time will also be allotted to cover the Post-Cold War period until the present.
In the final sessions, there will be an overall review of today’s strategic environment and the resultant challenges facing Japan.

Throughout the course, events/upheavals in the region will always be put in the context of global strategic developments.



Modern Japanese Diplomacy, Cold War, post-Cold War, East Asia -Western Pacific


Course Outline (Course Topics)

session 1:Introduction:
A Strategic environment of East Asia - Western Pacific region in the context of global power balance
1) Geography and geopolitics
2) History
3) People and the human factor
4) Economy
5) The military
B “After Victory” (Ikenberry) and its implications on the EA/WP wars

session2:Wars and Peaces (Overview of Pre-World War Two EA/WP):
Sino-Japanese War (1894-95)
Russo-Japanese War
World War One in the region
Interwar years
Sino-Japanese War (1931-45)

Session 3:World War Two in the region (the end of hostilities)

session 4:World War Two in the region (peace settlements (pl)) and the Cold War:
US and Russia (Soviet Union) reporting

session 5:The Cold War time Hot wars; or Chinese Civil War and the Korean War:
China (PRC) and China (RoC) reporting

session 6:The Cold War in North East Asia
(US Soviet stand-off, 38th Parallel, Taiwan Straits):
South Korea (RoK) and North Korea (DPRK) reporting

session7:The Cold War in South East Asia
(War(s) in Vietnam, ASEAN, Cambodian Peace Conference)
Indonesia, Thailand/Cambodia and Vietnam reporting

session 8:The success of the Post-1945 system;
Economic “miracle” and the emergence of the Flying Geese and the NIES and ASEAN 6:
Australia, India and Malaysia/Singapore reporting

session 9: The end of the Cold War:
(a) Changing global strategic balance, Disappearance of the Communist threat:
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia, Viet Nam reporting

session 10: (b) Unchanging strategic environment in EA/WP:
Australia, China (ROC), Korea (ROK), Korea (DPRK), reporting

session 11: Emerging global strategic structure: challenge to the post WW II system: China (PRC), India, Russia, USA reporting

session 12: Japan’s Strategic Challenges; an integrating overview

session 13: Mock East Asia/Western Pacific Disarmament Conference

session 14: (ditto)

session 15: “Post Mortem” (or an Overall Review)

Teaching Methods

The course will be in principle a lecture course, but will invite a more active participation by students by oral reports in class as well as a mock “international disarmament conference” in the latter part of the course.

In order to facilitate active participation, each student will be assigned one of the major stake-holders in the strategic situation in the East Asia - Western Pacific. Throughout the course, he/she will follow the role and policies of his/her country/stakeholder and will make two oral reports in class at specified occasions. There is a caveat which stipulates that NO student can elect to represent a country of his/her citizenship. More than one student could be assigned to a country/stakeholder in which case they will compose a team and work together.

Obviously, all will study Japan’s policy responses to the unfolding situation in surrounding region.

The stakeholders are;

Australia (but before Second World War, Great Britain)
China (PRC)
China (Qing and ROC)
Indonesia (but before its independence, Netherlands)
Korea (Lee Dynasty and ROK)
Korea (DPRK)
Malaysia and Singapore
Russia (Czarist, Soviet, and the present day Russian Federation)
Thailand and Cambodia (also South Vietnam before 1975)
USA (also the Philippines)
Viet Nam (North VN, NLF and the present VN)


Students will submit a term paper 10-12 pages on the Japanese strategic environment seen from the perspective of the stakeholder that was assigned to the student.

1) term paper 65 %,
2) participation in class discussions including oral reports 25% and
3) overall focus and commitment to learning 10%

Required Textbooks

1) Samuel P. Huntington: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order: Simon and Schuster
2) G. John Ikenberry: After Victory: Princeton University Press
3) Ikenberry: Liberal Leviathan
4) Yutaka Kawashima : Japanese Foreign Policy at the Crossroads: Brookings Institution Press

Notes on Taking the Course

Good English to actively engage in discussions as well as to write a solid term paper

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