The Dogma of Japanese Insignificance: The Academic Discourse on North Korea Policy Coordination

Hagström, Linus
September 2006
Pacific Affairs;Fall2006, Vol. 79 Issue 3, p387
Academic Journal
The message of Japanese insignificance in international affairs can be found in many different literatures, including that on the formation of policy towards North Korea in the 1990s and 2000s, in particular in regard to the recurring nuclear crisis. Books and articles on the topic either exclude Japanese foreign policy altogether or tend to emphasize the predominant role, or power, of the United States. Japanese foreign policy, it is implied, is under US control. The aim of this article is to question that dominant view, (1) by demonstrating that there is an undercurrent of statements in the same literature which could well be interpreted as implying Tokyo's exercising of political, economic and perhaps even military power over Washington; (2) by clarifying the conceptual bias upon which the predominant view rests; and (3) by suggesting how another understanding of power is more coherent with the first two points, but at the same time renders the whole question of power in North Korea policy coordination practically a quagmire. By doing so, this article deconstructs the more uniform understanding of power in that discourse and reveals a patchwork of inconsistencies, differences and questions.


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