ABSTRACT

The nature of Japan’s relationship with East Asian1 countries has prompted a large volume of studies in the area of International Relations (IR) and International Political Economy (IPE). These studies argue that Japan has been reluctant to take the lead in the region for various reasons such as its colonial history and the special presence of the US in this region. Within this context, many studies have focused on Japan’s economic as opposed to political leadership in the region, leading to a great deal of books and articles on economic relations between Japan and its neighbouring countries. The more critical literature argues that Japan selfishly pursues its economic (and political) interests in a neo-mercantilistic way. A more benign view is that the increased inflow of Japanese private and public capital, specifically in the form of trade, investment and aid, has had a beneficial effect on the region’s economy, consequently raising Japan’s profile in East Asia.