Most countries of the world were significantly influenced by World Wars I and II and other major conflicts. In particular, Japan bore the greatest brunt of the Second World War and was forced to surrender in 1945 (Sebata, 2010). Virtually all countries sought to enhance their national intelligence services for purpose of self-defense. However, after the WWII, Japan embarked on more international-friendly policies.
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Its foreign policies were harmonized with those of the United States and the United Nations which promoted cooperation among countries of the world. During the Cold War, Japan subscribed to the interests of the Western world especially in dealing with threats from the Soviet Union (Sebata, 2010).
Having assumed a relatively ‘peaceful’ stand, Japan was able to recover from the impacts of WWII to become one of the most powerful countries in the world at the end of the Cold War in early 1990s (Hayashi, 2006). Japan’s international policies during this period were geared towards enhancing economic and technological growth. The essay explores how the role of Japan has evolved since the end of the Cold War.
Japanese foreign policy drastically changed soon after the end of the Cold War. The government declared its support for global peace advocated for by the United Nations. Japan started sending its troops to war-torn countries in the 1990s and beginning of the 21st century (Hayashi, 2006).
In the meantime, the country sought to reform its national security and intelligence services which had collapsed due to continued threats from the US. This was triggered by the launching of ballistic missile, Tepodong I, fired over its territory by North Korea in August 1998 (Sebata, 2010). The East Asian region became a point of focus for Japan since it was also not in good terms with China.
It resolved to launch its reconnaissance satellites. By March 2003, it had launched two of the current four satellites. With the threats posed by international terrorism, Japan has continued to improve its security and level of intelligence since the end of the Cold War. These efforts, however, have been faced with the difficulty of implementation of proposed policy reforms.
It is evident that Japan’s regional and international roles and responsibilities have expanded significantly since the conclusion of the Cold War (Hayashi, 2006). Unlike the combative spirit during the Cold War period, Japan has resorted to the promotion of developmental efforts at the international level. Some countries have regarded these as reconciliatory initiatives to apologize for past mistakes (Sebata, 2010).
After the Cold War, Japan has modeled itself as a democratic state and has sought, together with the US, to spread this to other parts of the world. The country has also campaigned for the respect of human rights and dignity as well as the liberalization of world economy. This indicates that Japan has not only sought to pursue its own best interests but also those of the world at large.
In general, Japan has moved from its reactive role to a more assertive and proactive role since the end of the Cold War (Hayashi, 2006). Rather than wait for guidance from the United States, it is now making authentic contributions to the global community. Asia has for a long time been characterized by selfish interests of member countries especially during the Cold War period.
European countries have pulled their resources for a common course and mission, ranging from economic cooperation to security matters (Hayashi, 2006). With an aim of introducing a sense of unity in the East Asia region, Japan has proposed the formation of a “Pacific Alliance.”
Aware of the great challenge of developing shared values and interests, Japan is determined to create a political and security framework for the Asian region. This will go a long way in the development of quality human resource, advanced research opportunities, as well as intellectual and technological contribution that will in turn aid in creating a peaceful world.
Hayashi, S., 2006. Japan and East Asian monetary regionalism: towards a proactive leadership role? Taylor & Francis.
Sebata, T., 2010. Japan’s defense policy and bureaucratic politics, 1976-2007. University Press of America.