2020: The Emptiness of Japan's Values Diplomacy

Security in East Asia  -  China - USA - Japan - Korea - Taiwan
Source:  The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 18 | Issue 19 | Number 1 | Article ID 5487 | Oct 01, 2020
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus

The Emptiness of Japan’s Values Diplomacy in Asia

Jeff Kingston

Although Prime Minister Abe Shinzo repeatedly touted Japan’s values-oriented foreign policy in Asia there was little substance to this agenda. Like other nations, Tokyo downplays human rights and democratic values in favor of maintaining trade ties and securing geo-strategic advantage. It is thus a values-free diplomacy of pragmatism and expediency, dealing with regional governments as they are, not as one might wish them to be. Japan is certainly not unique in this regard, but Abe invites scrutiny of the government’s record due to his rhetorical grandstanding. Colonial and wartime legacies have made it problematic for Japan to lecture and pressure regional governments on their political systems and practices. Moreover, the escalating rivalry with China for regional influence reinforces Tokyo’s hesitation to promote democratic reforms for fear that it will lose clout by driving governments into Beijing’s unconditional embrace.

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