Bras. Political Sci. Rev.. 15/Mar/2016;10(1):e0007.

Japanese International Relations: an assessment of the 1971-2011 period

Thiago Corrêa Malafaia

DOI: 10.1590/1981-38212016000100007

This article examines Japanese International Relations in the last quarter of the 20th century, highlighting the history of IR academic development and the opportunities and constraints posed by the International System. It demonstrates that Japanese approaches to IR varied in strength and representativeness, despite the co-existence of four strands of thought: Staatslehre, Historicist, Marxist and American Style. The lack of integration between these approaches and in methodological refining can be held accountable for the absence of a stricto sensu bumiputra (autochthonous) Japanese theory of IR. The 1997 Asian Crisis was a fracture point in Japanese scholarly debate as it represented the ultimate failure of the Gankou Keitairon (Flying Geese) paradigm, pertaining to the until-then highly reputed Staatslehre strand of thought. This effectively yielded towards a greater popularization of the American style approach and evidence suggests that such strand gained more and more adepts as years went by. Being heavily influenced by international events, however, it is difficult to predict how Japanese IR will develop in the future. To be sure, there are simply too many variables in Japanese regional and global political and economic environments for one to tell for sure if the American style approach will continue gaining adepts or if it is going to be rolled back and lose ground. International challenges, especially in the case of Japan, might produce unpredictable results, as to the academic debate in the field of IR.

Japanese International Relations: an assessment of the 1971-2011 period