Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Japan’s Quest for Great Power Identity

Japan’s Quest for Great Power Identity

Japanese foreign policy in the middle of 2001 was in utter disarray. The Japanese media resorted to terms such as pandemonium, paralysis, terror, and war. Makiko Tanaka’s idiosyncrasy as foreign minister in the new Junichiro Koizumi cabinet accounted for some but not all of the turmoil. Detractors charged her with creating havoc on the basis of a “daughter’s vengeance” and a “housewife’s feelings” and undertaking a coup d’‚tat against the bureaucratic system. In fact she had found herself in the midst of an enormous muddle. As professionals called for urgent action to restore a consensus and stem the damage to the national interest, advocates pleaded for a new direction to overcome the lethargy of a decade of inertia that could cause still more harm. To determine how Japan might extricate itself from this situation we must first understand what precipitated it.

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