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Title: Japanese conservatism and foreign policy : a focus on prime ministers Nakasone Yasuhiro, Koizumi Junichirō and Abe Shinzō
Author: Gao, Bingyu
ISNI:       0000 0004 6421 8922
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2017
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This dissertation investigates the influence of Japanese conservatism on the government’s foreign policy. The core set of questions of this research consists of the following: what is the position and status of conservatism in the spectrum of post-war Japanese political thinking? How has conservative thinking (especially conservative intellectuals) affected the perceptions and behaviour of the leaders and how has the leaders’ foreign policy-making reflected their conservative thinking? What is the mechanism by which conservative thinking exerts its influence on Japan’s foreign policy-making? What are the different ways in which different Japanese prime ministers exploited conservative intellectuals and vice versa? And, how did this double-way exploitation affect foreign policy-making? To address the research questions, first the place of conservatism among post-war Japanese ideologies is examined. Post-war Japan experienced a variety of ideological trends, including the partial revival of certain pre-war ideologies such as conservatism. Second, as the dominant ideology, how conservatism affected Japanese political practices, or what is the connection between conservative thinking and foreign policy is addressed. Third, Prime Ministers Nakasone Yasuhiro, Koizumi Junichirō and Abe Shinzō are taken up as cases to study the mechanism of how conservative thought affects foreign policy-making. The role of the concept of conservatism in the policy-making process has been extensively studied in political science and international relations. Likewise, “from concept to foreign policy” is the focal question of this study. Specifically, the aim is to find out how conservative intellectuals affect real politics (realpolitik) and foreign policy. Three paths are investigated: first, direct conversions from conservative intellectuals to conservative politicians; second, conservative intellectuals acting as political advisors to the three prime ministers, thereby providing them with intellectual support; and third, conservative intellectuals disseminating their thinking in Japanese society using their own influence, and eventually affecting government policy through the force of public opinion. This study draws on Robert A. Dahl’s pluralist theory of democracy, which suggests that political outcomes arise through competitive interest groups, rejecting the assumption that the state (or government) is the sole rational actor in politics. Using this insight, the dissertation examines the plural factors contributing to the origin and formation of the prime ministers’ conservative thought, including education, early environment, family legacy, and the relationships of the three prime ministers with their political advisors. In the Conclusions, a comparison of the conservative thought and foreign policies of the three prime ministers is carried out, examined in the context of the contemporary social ethos and international environment, leading to an elucidation of the causal mechanisms linking Japanese conservatism to Japanese foreign policy.
Supervisor: Hook, Glenn ; Kim, Seungyong Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available