Japan's National Identity and Foreign Policy: Russia as Japan's 'Other', 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Japan's National Identity and Foreign Policy

Russia as Japan's 'Other', 1st Edition

By Alexander Bukh


192 pages

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This book is the first attempt to examine Japan’s relations with Russia from the perspective of national identity; providing a new interpretation of Japan’s perceptions of Russia and foreign policy.

Alexander Bukh focuses on the construction of the Japanese self using Russia as the other, examining the history of bilateral relations and comparisons between the Russian and Japanese national character. The first part of the book examines the formation of modern Japan’s perceptions of Russia, focusing mainly on the Cold War years. The second part of the book examines how this identity construction has been reflected in Japan’s economic, security and territorial dispute related policy towards post-Soviet Russia.

Providing not only a case study of the Japan-Russia relationship, but also engaging in a critical examination of existing International Relations frameworks for conceptualizing the relationship between national identity and foreign policy, the appeal of the book will not be limited to those interested in Japanese/Russian politics but will also be of interest to the broader body of students of International Relations.


"[T]his book….is an innovative study analyzing Japan's relations with the Soviet Union/Russia from the perspective of national identity…[T]his books fills an important gap in the academic literature by explaining the Japanese socio-political identity from the perspective of Soviet Union/Russia's "otherness" and opens the way to further investigation on Japan's identity issues from several viewpoints." - Hakan Gonen, Turkish Yearbook of Asia Pacific Studies, Issue No:4 (2009)

"It forms part of a bold attempt to resurrect the long discredited notion of national character, albeit in a much more sophisticated form than that employed by cultural determinists from the age of empire. As such, it represents a serious challenge to the vapid reductionism of rational choice theory…I heartily commend it to experienced students of Japan’s foreign relations and international relations more broadly." - Christopher W. Braddick, The International Spectator, Vol. 44, No. 2, June 2009

"There is much to like in Bukh’s clearly written and tightly argued volume. His rationale for engaging in a detailed study of Russo-Japanese relations is sound, and…Bukh utilises an impressive array of Japanese-language sources that introduces the rich and multifaceted indigenous debates on Japanese foreign policy to a wider Englishspeaking audience…this is a fascinating book which makes a very real contribution to its field."- Shogo Suzuki, East Asia: An International Quarterly, 2010

"I consider this volume dealing with the Japanese perception of Russia and written by a young non-Japanese scholar, on the basis of his Ph.D. dissertation submitted to the London School of Economics, an epoch- making masterpiece… I congratulate Bukh on his epoch-making work. Almost all previously published books dealing with Japanese-Russian relations contain only description of historical facts without any attempt to test them by theoretical hypothesis in international relations studies. The publication of Bukh’s book has clearly ushered in a new phase in studies of Japanese-Russian relations." - Hiroshi Kimura, Takushoku University, Journal of Japanese Studies, The Journal of Japanese Studies, Volume 37, Number 1, Winter 2011

'Filling an important gap in the literature by explaining the building and restructuring of Japanese national identity from the perspective of Soviet Union/Russian ‘otherness’ and opening the way to further investigation of Japan’s identity issues, this book provides a concrete example of the importance of analysing the evolution of the behaviours of the ‘others’ whenever reflection on the construction of a particular ‘self’ is needed.' - Claudia Astarita, 2012 40: 412 Millennium - Journal of International Studies

Table of Contents

1. Exploring Japan’s Identity 2. Constructions of Japan’s "Self" 3. Japan’s "Soviet Union", Japan’s "Russia" 4. Ainu, Russia and Japan’s Quest for "Northern Territories" 5. Shiba’s Original Forms of Japan and Russia 6. "Newly Born Russia" and Japan 7. The Idea of the Northern Territories. Conclusion

About the Author

Alexander Bukh is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Science at Tsukuba University, Japan. He holds an LL.M from Tokyo University and a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

About the Series

The University of Sheffield/Routledge Japanese Studies Series

This well-established series with one of the pre-eminent institutions for Japanese Studies in Europe publishes cutting-edge research and authoritative introductory texts on modern Japan and the Japanese. Editorial policy encourages leading and promising younger scholars to contribute especially social scientific analysis on a wide range of Japan-related subjects.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General