Key features of applying Japan’s soft power to its foreign policy

Tokyo bets on economic tools to promote Japan abroad

Japan has improved its position in the global soft power ranking during the recent years, RISS expert Julia Kryachkina points out in the analytical article of RISS journal “National Strategy Issues”. The nation has achieved some success in applying the modern Western theoretic approaches, while also adding some national specifics to them. However, some constraints, rooted in the country’s historical and socio-economical background, have prevented Tokyo from making a qualitative breakthrough in the soft power tools application.

Japanese soft power focuses on economic tools for promoting a positive image of the country abroad. Japan is one of the top countries for soft power, as it has rich and ancient cultural and traditional heritage. "The Japanese soft power is backed up with the image of a peace-loving state created in the second half of the XX century as a result of the inclusion in the Japanese Constitution of provisions prohibiting use of force as a means for the settlement of international disputes," Kryachkina added.

Soft power's content, its goals, objectives, and features differ according to the two main areas of international influence. "The first area is aimed at developed countries (USA, France, Italy, Singapore, South Korea) and developing countries with huge resources and market potential (China, India, and Brazil). The second area focuses on developing countries in Southeastern and Central Asia and Africa. The crucial tasks are to promote the interests of national business and to demonstrate Japan's humanitarian maturity and economic power," RISS expert explained.

Kryachkina draws attention to the fact that history and current situation in the region impose certain constraints on the use of soft power tools in Tokyo's policy. "The possibility of soft power use is greatly reduced when it comes to the dispute over historical legacy of the Second World War, which is the center of a conflict between Japan, China, and the Korean States. Beijing and Seoul oppose the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's intention to amend the Japan's postwar constitution," she concluded.

journal Japan