Japan's Eurasian diplomacy: Successes and failures (1997-2017)
Eurasia has never been one of major directions of Japan’s foreign policy, but its importance for Tokyo is growing. This article analyzes its increasing significance to foreign policy of Japan, causes and consequences of this policy’s duality and inconsistency. It also studies the reasons for the limited success of Tokyo’s diplomacy in Eurasia and discusses possible prospects for growing Japanese involvement in the region. It concludes that Japan’s Eurasian policy is inconsistent and is likely to remain so since the cause behind it remains unchanged – that is, the contradiction between Japan’s actual economic interests and its willingness to follow in the ideological and geopolitical footsteps of the U.S. The path Japan takes in the future will largely depend on the economic results of the implementation of the Silk Road Economic Belt, its linkage with the plans of the Eurasian Economic Union, the progress of Russian–Chinese cooperation, and the project of Greater Eurasian partnership put forward by Russia and supported by China. If the economic projects of Eurasia’s non-Western players prove effective, Tokyo will be more tempted to cooperate with them despite its close ties with the U.S. However, if Eurasia’s non-Western states, and particularly China, are overly active with their foreign policy and militaries in the Asia Pacific, it will push Tokyo to create a variety of structures that would curb and serve as a political counterbalance to Chinese and Russian influence.