【Report】Japan in the Sino-US Strategic Competition: A Classical Realist Perspective

Japan in the Sino-US Strategic Competition: A Classical Realist Perspective
26 May 2023
Prof. Tsuyoshi Kawasaki (Simon Fraser University)

On May 26, 2023, Prof. Tsuyoshi Kawasaki, Professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada, gave a presentation on Japan’s grand strategy in the midst of the US-China competition at Ritsumeiakn University. Taking on a classical realist perspective, Prof. Kawasaki explained that the hegemonic military great power of the day establishes an international order and that, at some point, rising powers will likely challenge the order since they tend to harbor revisionist intentions to create their preferred international orders. An international order change is typically done through a hegemonic war between the status quo power(s) and rising power(s).

Prof. Kawasaki argued that we are witnessing the beginning of an order change today. China, a rising revisionist power, challenges the liberal international order led by the United States on many fronts. Beijing seeks to replace the United States as a hegemon by undermining the current order’s legitimacy and institutions. It challenges the territorial status quo in the South China Sea and Taiwan. Since it is unwilling to abdicate the throne, Washington is confronting Beijing militarily, economically, and diplomatically. Prof. Kawasaki mentioned that this “power struggle” extends into the domestic sphere through disinformation campaigns.

Prof. Kawasaki argued that Japan—a status quo power—is on the frontline of the hegemonic competition over international order due to its geographical location and close alliance with Washington. Its grand strategy and actions matter significantly in the future of international order. He argued that Japan’s new National Security Strategy, which came out at the end of 2022, is an excellent grand strategy for Japan to protect the liberal international order.

  • 20230526_01
  • 20230526_02

Written by Daichi Morishige, a PhD student at Ritsumeikan University