Japan’s Policy towards the South Caucasus: Pragmatic even if Enigmatic

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ISSN: 1610-2932 (Print) 1612-1031 (Online)
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Studies on Common Policy Challenges


The article investigates Japan’s foreign policy towards the South Caucasus by unveiling the full range of its paraphernalia. After dwelling on Japan as a foreign policy actor, it delineates the policy vis-à-vis the South Caucasian states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia along the categories of political dialogue, development assistance and economic cooperation by relying on untapped primary sources. Subsequently, the article analyzes the official discourse pertaining to Japan’s strategy and tactics with respect to the South Caucasus. Ultimately, it provides an explanation by situating the case study within the existing conceptual frameworks of “civilian” and “normative power”. Based on the findings, the article argues that Japan has not been a “normative” but it has been a “civilian power”—a conceptual framework, which can be placed within the theory of neo-liberalism. In a nutshell, even though Japan is an enigmatic actor, it has been predominantly pragmatic in its policy towards the South Caucasus.