Japan's foreign policy in the post-Soviet region (1991-2016)
Keywords:Japan, post-Soviet states, Ukraine, "Eurasian diplomacy", "The Arch of Freedom and Prosperity"
This article gives an outline of conceptual foundations of Japan's political course towards the post-Soviet states and analyzes evolution of its foreign policy in the region since the collapse of the Soviet Union until Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration in the period from 1991 to 2016.As a result of conducted research the author concludes that Japan's policy in the post-Soviet region has expanded gradually from East to West and that its original strategy is still utilized by Japan's government.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, besides financial and nuclear security assistance to the region, the government of Japan focused on two main tasks, one being search of ways to resolve the dispute of the Kuril Islands - one of the most important issues of Japan's modern foreign policy, and the other one - establishing relations with Central Asian republics. The development of relationship between Japan and Central Asia was achieved by introducing the concept of "Eurasian diplomacy" and "Central Asia plus Japan" dialogue which led to further expansion of the scope of Japan's foreign policy towards the West. In 2006 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Taro Aso introduced the concept of "Arch of Freedom and Prosperity"in which Ukraine was mentioned for the first time. It is proved that the value-oriented diplomacy of Japan has deep roots and forms the basis of the policies of Japan's current administration. As for the financial assistance allocated to the region, the author emphasizes Japan's Official Development Assistance which was provided starting from1994. Inthis regard it is noted that the biggest recipient in the period from 1994 to 2014 was Uzbekistan.Further development of relations between Japan and post-Soviet states has good perspectives. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policy in the region is based on the previously introduced concepts and, at the same time, is more proactive compared to Japan's past governments. Therefore, one can expect positive trends and continued success of Japan's "soft power" diplomacy in Central Asia against its non-interference in the internal affairs of its Central Asian partners. On the other hand, an issue for Japan could be Shinzo Abe's promise to resolve the dispute of the Kuril Islands and to improve relations with Russia. It is believed that Japan will continue to support Ukraine in the issue of Russia's occupation of the Crimean Peninsula which took place in 2014 and its military aggression in Eastern Ukraine, and will be forced to balance its interests in both countries.
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