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Belt and Road Initiative as Japan’s Aidagara

Tuesday 25 February 2020
Leiden Lecture Series in Japanese Studies
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

What does BRI mean for Japan? While China’s infrastructure investments encroach on Japan’s chief source of influence in Southeast Asia and beyond, the Japanese government seems to accept that BRI is now the ‘only game in town’. BRI involves both a subject-subject dynamic involving Japan, on the one hand, with China and the US, among others, on the other. Furthermore, the re-designation of geographical signifier from the Asia-Pacific to Indo-Pacific implies an environment-subject dynamic in which Japan’s existential space has been recalibrated. The significance of this paper lies in introducing the ideas of Japanese philosopher, Watsuji Tetsurō, into Japanese foreign policy in particular and International Relations (IR) theorizing in general. Watsuji’s idea of aidagara suggests that human existence is comprised of a complex web of inter-relationships involving subject-subject, as well as environment-subject, inter-relationships. As such, Watsuji’s philosophy is well-equipped to provide us with a theoretical framework for putting Japan’s challenges under BRI into perspective. In other words, through Watsuji, we can see that BRI represents Japan’s aidagara.

Dr. Taku Tamaki

Taku Tamaki is a Lecturer in International Relations at Loughborough University, UK. He specializes in Japanese foreign policy, particularly interested in the role national identity plays in Japan's relations with its Asian neighbours. He is currently working on a project exploring Japan's images of Asia within the Japanese foreign policy narratives.

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