Japan’s Identity in International Society: Constructing Identity as a ‘Peacebuilding State’
Since the end of the Cold War, the development of Japan’s foreign policy has shown a great level of relevance to regional and international security affairs. Regional instability and conflict in regions such as Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa, the onset of the global war on terror from 2001 onwards, and the recent rise of China in economic and security terms, have all continued to attract scholars and practitioners at home and abroad in analysing and understanding Japan’s foreign policy stance regarding these issues. More fundamentally, although it is not a new phenomenon, portrayals of Japan’s regional and international roles continue to serve as an essential element of their research interest. Researchers in this field often concern themselves with the following question: what sort of self-image of statehood is Japan trying to perceive and demonstrate in a changing international society? Indeed, the study of identity is of central importance to the field of Japanese studies. Recent research regarding the study of Japan’s identity in the security sector has focused either on the continuation of a long-lasting identity as a “peace state”, or an increasing change towards a more “internationally proactive state”. However, it overlooks evolving and mixed elements of such an identity from a broader historical perspective, and leaves questions with regard to the dynamics of identity construction. Literature regarding the emerging phenomenon of Japan’s involvement in peacebuilding indicates a promising direction for the examination of this aspect, but so far it underexplores the relationship between Japan’s identity and peacebuilding. Within a framework of qualitative research, this thesis investigates how Japan has constructed its identity as a “peacebuilding state”. It employs a framework to analyse a process of the construction of identity consisting of three aspects: articulation of self-perception by narratives (what Japan represents itself as by narratives); action commensurate with the narrative self-perception (how Japan acts in an effort to demonstrate that its representation fits Japan); and social recognition (how other members of the international audience recognise Japan’s self-perception and related actions). This research examines political discourse, media sources, opinion polls, and in- person interviews with key figures related to peacebuilding, and argues that the construction of Japan’s identity as a peacebuilding state has taken place in three ways: comprehensive peacebuilding efforts on the ground in a troubled region; taking a leadership role in international forums related to peacebuilding; and implementing human resource development for peacebuilding at home. It provides an alternative insight into the study of Japan’s identity in security sectors, and reinforces theoretical and empirical aspects of the relationship between identity and peacebuilding in the context of Japan.
Advisor: Headley, James
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Politics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Japan; Identity; International Society; Peacebuilding
Research Type: Thesis