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Title: Japan and the Greater Mekong Sub-region : hegemony in the making or hegemony already established?
Author: Hartley, Ryan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 110X
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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This is a study of power in Japan's contemporary regional international relations, examined through the Critical framework of political-economy developed by Robert Cox and drawing on the thought of Antonio Gramsci. It focuses upon the countries of the Mekong Peninsula in addition to the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) project which those countries are aligning with. It is argued that far from a naturally occurring phenomena of bottom up mutual interest sharing, the GMS is an example of a 'world order' set in sub-regional terms, that Japan and its organic intellectual the Asian Development Bank are orienting Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos towards. Through the employment of quantitative and qualitative methods, carried out across the multiple countries involved in this study, this research attempts to discover the formal and informal channels of direct (relational) and indirect (structural) power that Japan exercises in order to garner the consent necessary from the elites of the Mekong economies to adapt their domestic policies towards world orders. This is hegemony understood in Critical (consent generation) rather than Realist (coercive force) terms, and the study examines the nexus reached between Japan's material, institutional and ideational power, and how these operate in the real world of the Mekong countries. It was discovered that among the highly complex histories, interactions and sheer number of projects underway in the Mekong region, a common pattern of behaviours and activities are occurring. Japan, since the mid-1980s has been reforming the former economies of Indochina to orient them towards some of the developments already successfully achieved in Thailand during the 1950s-1970s. From the end of the Cold War the GMS project was formally put in place and great efforts were made to the war-torn Indochina economies towards liberal economic reforms (not liberal democratic reforms). Once achieved, and the GMS project successfully ported into the regional framework of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan began shifting allegiances away from open-ended multilateralism and towards a Japan-centric set of relations. The dissertation concludes that far from being a passive or reactive state, Japan's relations with the GMS and the Mekong countries demonstrates a high degree of strategic vision, and that this agenda does not end with the sub-regional GMS. Rather, the GMS is a building block on the way towards inter-regional and trans-regional transformation that may potentially open alternate channels of politico-economic power that would fundamentally transform Southeast Asia and East Asia more broadly.
Supervisor: Hook, Glenn ; Matanle, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available