Far, yet so Near: Normativity in Japan’s Diplomacy with the Central Asian Republics

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Japan has been playing a steady and pivotal role in Central Asia since
the fall of the Soviet Union, but to presume Tokyo’s engagement is predicated on strategic interests that compete with other powers such as Russia and China in the so-called “New Great Game” is naïve to the activities occurring on the ground. Newly independent and largely unaffected by Japanese past aggression, the five Central Asian states present a unique “petri dish” for Japan’s values-based diplomacy in Asia. This study analyzes significant Japanese foreign policy measures with the Central Asian republics since independence, and—through examination of speech acts by the political elites, practices on the ground, and within the institutional framework of the Central Asia Plus Japan dialogue—draws out the normativity evident in Tokyo’s Central Asian policy. Using a symbiotic framework for foreign policy analysis of geopolitics, geo-economics, and geoculture, this study isolates geoculture from the two other dynamics in order to illustrate how norms operate independently from strategic interests in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-39
Number of pages22
JournalAsian Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Central Asia, foreign policy, normativity, Japan, New Great Game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations

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