Japan’s International Relations: Politics, Economics and Security: A Chapter Review

Japan’s International Relations: Politics, economics and security (3rd Ed.). Hook, Glenn D. et al. Routledge. Chapter 1: The significance of Japan’s international relations.

Japan’s International Relations: Politics, economics and security is a textbook, written with the intention of providing a concise and balanced overview of the most important aspects of Japan’s international relations. It is part of a series of books, produced by the Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of Sheffield, on key topics in Japanese studies. That it is targeted at the level of university students, can be seen in the writing style which expects from the reader a certain breadth of vocabulary, whilst still defining technical terms and acronyms. This entry in the series is written as a collaboration between four different authors, who are all professors or senior lecturers at well-respected universities (Sheffield, Birmingham and Warwick), providing credibility to the writing, as does the in-text referencing of quotations. This review of the first chapter of this book entitled The significance of Japan’s international relations will look at the purpose of the research, the quality of the sources/data used, how it fits into the debates about Japan’s international relations, who the target readership is and how effectively the main findings are presented.

The chapter usefully provides an overview of what is to come later in the book, as well as explaining the framework in which discussion will occur. The chapter is divided with a multitude of subheadings, which facilitates reading. The chapter begins with a brief overview of how Japan has been viewed internationally over time, with emphasis placed on metaphors used to describe the country (e.g. that of the “rising sun”). Japan’s economics, politics and security are then briefly discussed, offering a tri-dimensional perspective with which to approach the subjects of the following chapters. Focus then shifts to the different geographic regions which will be focused on later (US, East Asia and Europe) before discussing the apparently paradoxical approach Japan itself has taken to international relations. This chapter successfully achieves its purpose of introducing the key topics and the approaches to analysis that will be used, it also highlights the importance of not oversimplifying the narrative –  of, for example, neglecting Japan’s politics and military to focus on its economic strength. 

The chapter does not contain an explicit argument, however, it is still opinionated making statements regarding what is important and what is right and wrong. That these points will be elaborated and substantiated later in the book is implied and sometimes directly stated by referencing which chapter the reader should go to in order to learn more.

Overall, The significance of Japan’s international relation is a very clearly written and straight-forwardly organised chapter that introduces the key areas of discussion and signals for the reader the range of information covered by the textbook.

10 Replies to “Japan’s International Relations: Politics, Economics and Security: A Chapter Review

      1. Got it- nice. I’ve read a couple of things that compare Japan to Thailand in terms of development as neither were colonised in their history (as opposed to Vietnam, Cambodia etc) but I don’t know how pertinent that parallel remains in 2020 and if it has any relevance to contemporary IR.

  1. Thank you Zoe for the review. I also got interested in “right” and “wrong” assumptions. Was there anything in the chapter that you found surprising, or would not agree to? thanks, all the best, Eugenia

    1. Dear Eugenia,
      As I chose to review the introduction it was difficult to disagree with what they were trying to argue because they only said that they were going to argue it in later chapters. That being said I was interested in finding out how their methodology would explain what they referred to as the incorrect perception that Japan’s approach to international relations is paradoxical.
      Best wishes,

  2. Hi Zoe, Thank you! You have read the Introduction, but would you have any specific topics you would like to research further or recommend anyone who are not familiar with Japan to read?

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