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Japan and identity change: Why it matters in International Relations
Swedish National Defence College, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Political Science Section. Utrikespolitiska institutet.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7495-055X
2015 (English)In: The Pacific Review, ISSN 0951-2748, E-ISSN 1470-1332, Vol. 28, no 1, 1-22 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Two approaches to identity have been employed to explore issues in Japan's international relations. One views identity as constituted by domestic norms and culture, and as constitutive of interests, which in turn cause behaviour. Proponents view Japan's ‘pacifist’ and ‘antimilitarist’ identity as inherently stable and likely to change only as a result of material factors. In the other approach, ‘Japan’ emerges and changes through processes of differentiation vis-à-vis ‘Others’. Neither ‘domestic’ nor ‘material’ factors can exist outside of such identity constructions. We argue that the second, relational, approach is more theoretically sound, but begs three questions. First, how can different identity constructions in relation to numerous Others be synthesised and understood comprehensively? Second, how can continuity and change be handled in the same relational framework? Third, what is the point of analysing identity in relational terms? This article addresses the first two questions by introducing an analytical framework consisting of three mutually interacting layers of identity construction. Based on the articles in this special issue, we argue that identity entrepreneurs and emotions are particularly likely to contribute to change within this model. We address the third question by stressing common ground with the first approach: identity enables and constrains behaviour. In the case of Japan, changes in identity construction highlighted by the articles in this special issue forebode a political agenda centred on strengthening Japan militarily.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 28, no 1, 1-22 p.
Keyword [en]
emotions, identity change, international relations, Japan, relational identity, norms
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Statsvetenskap med inriktning mot strategi och säkerhetspolitik
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-5752DOI: 10.1080/09512748.2014.969298ISI: 000346193600001OAI: diva2:893073
Available from: 2016-01-12 Created: 2016-01-12 Last updated: 2016-01-12Bibliographically approved

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