Why Tokyo Is Unlikely to Pursue an Aggressive Foreign PolicyGerald L. Curtis
The Japanese have thought about foreign policy in similar terms since the latter half of the nineteenth century. The men who came to power after the 1868 Meiji Restoration set out to design a grand strategy that would protect their country against the existential threat posed by Western imperialism. They were driven not, as their American contemporaries were, to achieve what they believed to be their manifest destiny nor, like the French, to spread wide the virtues of their civilization. The challenge they faced -- and met -- was to ensure Japan's survival in an international system created and dominated by more powerful countries.
That quest for survival remains the hallmark of Japanese foreign policy today. Tokyo has sought to advance its interests not by defining the international agenda, propagating a particular ideology, or promoting its own vision of world order, the way the United States and other great powers have. Its approach has instead been to take its external environment as a given and then make pragmatic adjustments to keep in step with w