Japan’s Perception and Policy toward China in the 2000s Case Study: Japan’s Seemingly Anti-China East Asian Regional Policy in the 2000s
This chapter raises an interesting puzzle: Why has Japan shown inconsistency in its policy proactiveness toward China despite its consistent direct perception of limited China threat in the 2000s? Yun Zhang introduces the trilateral perspective to explain the puzzle by systematically examining the evolution of Japan’s strategic elites’ indirect perception of China in the 2000s, dividing these elites into four groups. He finds that the primary variable of Japan’s policy toward China has been mainly influenced by its perception of the reliability of the US–Japan alliance. The case study of Japan’s East Asia regional policy in the 2000s will be analyzed thoroughly to verify the aforementioned theoretical basis and clarify the primary hidden intellectual foundation supporting Japan’s policy. The trilateral dynamics of Chinese, Japanese, and US foreign policies have largely influenced Japan’s attitudes toward regionalism, and the management of its alliance with the US is the primary and fundamental variable for Japan. Japan’s approach toward East Asian regionalism is largely subordinate to, and even serves as a tool for, the management of its alliance relations with the US.