chapter  4
33 Pages

Japan’s institutional balancing: Normalizing foreign policy

Japan’s foreign policy during the Cold War was heavily influenced by its military alliance with the United States. Some scholars describe Japan as a “reactive state” because of its “short-sightedness,” “lack of initiative,” and passive involvement in international affairs.1 Robert Scalapino even suggests that Japan “had no foreign policy, only entrepreneurial policies” since Japan only focused on economic growth under U.S. security protection.2 To a certain extent, Japan behaved more like an international trading firm than a nation state.3 Inoguchi Takashi and Purnendra Jain refer to Japan’s foreign policy as “karaoke diplomacy” since Japan’s foreign policy directions were circumscribed in a “set menu” provided by the United States. Japan could only follow the tune of the United States.4 In other words, Japan lacked the freedom of choice to set its own foreign policy during the Cold War.