Russia in the construction of Japan's identity : implications for international relations
The purpose of this thesis is two folded. One is to explore the discourse on Russia and the role it has played in constructing contemporary Japan's national identity. The other is to explore the relationship between the identity discourse and Japan's foreign policy towards post-communist Russia. In this thesis, national identity is conceptualized as a discursive narrative that engages in the construction of the national "self" vis-a-vis multiple "others." The thesis focuses on Russia as the "other" in Japan's identity discourse. Russia has always occupied a special place in Japan's identity construction, and has never been part of "Asia" or the "West", which have been the main paradigms in Japan's identity discourse. The analysis focuses on works of leading Japanese scholars and public figures to examine the contemporary identity discourse, which has emerged in 1970s and continues to dominate the debates on Russia till the present day. The thesis also explores the construction of "Japan" and "Russia" in the writings of one of the most popular Japanese historical fiction writer, Shiba Ryotaro. It argues that the construction of hierarchical difference between Japan and Russia has served two purposes: one was to establish Japan's belonging to the universal realm of modern civilization, the second was to establish Japan's superior uniqueness not only vis-a-vis Russia, but also vis-a-vis the West. The last chapter examines the economic, political and military dimensions of the Japanese foreign policy vis-a-vis Russia, since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This chapter examines the discourse of foreign policy along three dimensions: economic, military and the territorial dispute, arguing that identity functions differently in all three cases. Identity does not matter for the economic sphere, where the search for profits overrides concerns related to territory and history. Identity is, however, visible in the security discourse as seen in the lack of long-term trust of Russia's intentions among the members of the security community. In the context of the territorial dispute, identity shapes and, at the same time, is shaped by the policy related to this dispute. The thesis argues that, the policies Japan has implemented to enhance the return of the disputed islands are located within the same cognitive framework that has created Japan's cultural and civilizational superiority vis-a-vis Russia. It argues that it is not the security discourse but the conception of the territorial dispute and related polices which engage in creation of boundaries and hierarchical difference between the "self" and the "other.".