Tanaka (1993) offers the argument that Russia is an interesting example to be used in analyzing Japan's development of identity and concept of "self" because Russia does not fall into the category of Japan's "Orient" self, neither does it fall into the category of Japan's "West", both of which are generally the dominant "others" in relation to which Japan's foreign policy and national identity have been conditioned. As a result, Japan's relations with Russia conform to a unique pattern which has impacted upon both Japanese and Russian national character. As Hasegawa (2000) has pointed out, Russia has always been relatively unpopular in Japan, especially as compared to other countries such as China and the United States. Bukh (2007) has assessed the contributions made by Japan's popular novelists, such as Shiba Ryotaro who have dealt exhaustively with the subject of Japan's history and have been largely responsible for the development of the Japan-Russia discourse. Japan's national identity has been defined as a positive entity mostly in relation to a negative "other", in this instance Russia. During the period after the IInd World War, Russia's increasing industrial strength moved it into a position of strength during the Cold War when the country rapidly evolved to a position of power. n view of the significant problems of poverty and devastation that Japan experienced after the IInd World War and the Pacific War, and Russia's comparatively more prosperous position, the effort to improve Japan's position of necessity resulted in Russia being placed in the position of the negative other. Once the Cold War was over and Japan's economic position began to improve in relation to Russia, the latter still served to define Japan's identity in relation to a negative "other" because during this period, Russia may have served as a negative "other" symbolizing the evils of communism which had been unsuccessful. Russia has become even more relevant in establishing Japan's national identity after the latter's economic recovery began to sustain itself. Since Japan was also on the periphery of international affairs, its adherence to western capitalistic philosophy and it's aligning itself with the United States provided it an opportunity to regain some status within the international community as a country aligned with Western international interests. From Russia's perspective, its policy towards Japan was initially driven by territorial interests when it annexed the northern territories. According to Pikes (1996/7), the foreign policy of any great power is linked to its economy. The root of Russian foreign policy originates in the Bolshevik revolution, wherein Russia was to be merely a springboard from which the Communist revolution and philosophy were to spread to all parts of the world, including the Communist countries. The expansionist policy associated with this belief was the partial cause of Russia's appropriation of the northern territories. Moreover, Japan's rejection of Communist philosophies and adoption of the western philosophy has placed the two nations at opposite ends of the spectrum, despite both of them being peripheral nations as further detailed in this report.
An essay "Russia’s Foreign Policy with Japan" argues that Japan has not formulated her national identity as one coherent unit but rather as a composite picture containing a multiplicity of discourses, all of which are defined in terms of their relationship with others…
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