Scholarship on Japanese foreign policy and grand strategy over the past decade or so has tended to argue that Japan is “hedging” between China and the United States and closing the political gap between itself and China while distancing itself from its American ally.
Many different explanations and justifications of this “hedge” have been put forward. Some scholars argue that it is a balance between hard and soft power approaches to shaping Chinese behavior. Others make the point that there are both economic and security aspects involved, in which Japan depends for its economic well-being on China’s economic growth and for its security on the United States and the U.S.-Japan alliance.
Some claim that it is Japan’s way of avoiding the classic “alliance security dilemma” of abandonment-entrapment by its ally. Still others believe that it consists of a mixture of (primarily economic) engagement and (military) containment; or even multiple hedges—a hedge against U.S. decline and Chinese aggression, a hedge against the alliance security dilemma, and a hedge against predation and protectionism in economic affairs.
My article, a summary of a paper I am submitting to the 2013 National Sun Yat-sen University’s 2013 Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies, was published at Sharnoff’s Global Views and continues here.