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Japan's Foreign Policy beyond Short-term Politics

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In August 2009, the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP), which had been in power since 1955, lost the general elections to a recently-formed party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The LDP's foreign policy had placed emphasis on relations with the US, and on international cooperation and relations with Asia. The LDP's foreign and defense policy lacked a long term vision; it was incremental, pragmatic and could be described as reactive or passive. An examination of the DPJ's foreign policy, three years after its coming to power, reveals that it has accepted part of the LDP's inheritance. The Japan-US Alliance was reasserted as pivotal to Japan's security. Cooperation with Asia has not given birth to a new regional structure or to new institutional mechanisms, and dialogue with China has not improved; incrementalism is still preferred in the field of defense. Nonetheless, the fact that Japan's opposition is now a catch-all party at the center of the political scene changes the framework of foreign and defense policy-making considerably. Therefore, the likelihood of interpartite cooperation over foreign and security policy is theoretically conceivable. Nonetheless, political and institutional constraints to change in the field remain.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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