AbstractsPolitical Science

Status Theory of International Politics: A Case Study of Japan's Foreign and Security Policy

by Nathan William Novak

Institution: NSYSU
Year: 2016
Keywords: Japanese foreign policy; international relations; hedging; status; alliance politics
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2069270
Full text PDF: http://etd.lib.nsysu.edu.tw/ETD-db/ETD-search/view_etd?URN=etd-0803116-182234


This thesis wrestles with key problems in both international relations theory: What is the nature of the international system? Is the structure of the international system based solely (or even mostly) on material capabilities, or is it really ideas all the way (or even most of the way) down? What are the motivations of states? Are states revisionist- or status quo-oriented, are they power or security maximizers, or are they something else altogether? It also deals with key questions regarding Japan's foreign and security policy: Is Japan a reactive/passive (status-quo) state, or is it proactive (and possibly revisionist)? Can Japan's foreign policy be described as 'hedging' or as a 'dual hedge'? What is the best way to conceptualize Japan's place in the U.S.-Japan alliance or in Japan's relationship with the People's Republic of China? In this thesis, the proto-theory of status enhancement is put forth as a viable alternative to all of these questions. Status enhancement argues that, at the very least, most states most of the time – and particularly since the advent of nuclear weapons – are status enhancers, where status is akin to rank in a socially understood hierarchy of states based on 'objective' status markers (for example, military and economic capabilities) and 'intersubjective' status markers (here specified and defined as influence, authority, legitimacy, and prestige). Status enhancement argues that the structure of the international system is social (harkening back to constructivism) and material (harkening back to Waltzian neorealism) and that the driving force behind state identities, interests, and behaviors is the assertion that states can imagine a better world, that is, one in which they have more and not less control over their external environments (harkening back to neoclassical realism). After dealing with numerous theoretical and practical problems regarding the formation of such a theory, both with regard to international political theory and Japan-specific theories, and defining and operationalizing variables, this thesis then tests status enhancement against the historical period in Sino-Japan and U.S.-Japan relations from September, 2006 to December, 2014. It finds that, although limited in scope, the proto-theory of status enhancement is a potentially viable theory of international politics. Advisors/Committee Members: Yujen Kuo (committee member), Tsai, Ming-yen (chair), Shu-Fan Ding (chair), Lin, Wen-cheng (committee member).