Introduction: Japan, the great powers, and the coordination of North Korea policy
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The primary aim of the book is to use North Korea policy as the subject for a case study to analyse Japanese foreign policy. Has the image of Japan as a curiously (or intelligibly) passive and reactive trading state remained an accurate one in the midst of the turbulent changes, both domestically and internationally, of recent years?1 And how has the power or influence of Japanese foreign policy evolved relative to that of other important actors in the region during the last decade or so? These questions are examined by asking to what extent Japan was pursuing its North Korea policy autonomously of other involved actors in the early and mid-1990s and to what extent it is doing so in the early and mid-2000s. To what extent were those other regional actors exercising power over Japan in the early and mid-1990s – and to what extent and how was Japan exercising power over them – in the bilateral and multilateral interaction over such policy? Has the situation changed a decade or so later? The chapters of this book tackle these questions not only by examining Japan’s North Korea policy (Chapter 1), but also by analysing ‘the Japan factor’ in the North Korea policy of other great powers (Chapters 3-7) and Japanese participation in multilateral forums (Chapter 8). North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK) is treated here primarily as the focal point for coordination efforts between Japan and other major actors in North-East Asian politics. However, in order not to nurture and reproduce the historical tendency to objectify Korea more than necessary, the book also includes a chapter on North Korea’s own policy orientations and images of its neighbouring states (Chapter 2).