From a purely geopolitical point of view in international relations theory, Japan could focus on its bilateral relations with the United States to ensure its national security and neglect multilateral diplomacy. However, Japan shows a remarkably active behavior in multilateral arenas, such as the United Nations: as the second largest financial contributor to the United Nations regular budget, as the most frequently elected non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and in its commitment to particular issues such as Human Security (Shin’yo 2017).
Since geopolitical reasoning cannot sufficiently explain Japan’s international actions and multilateral commitment, this research aims for a more eclectic approach by adopting a constructivist perspective. Taking into account recognition, identity, norms and other social factors contributes to a better understanding of Japanese multilateral diplomacy (Kratochwil 2011). The research project looks back at 60 years of Japanese UN membership. Of particular interest are the notions that are central to Japanese diplomacy and their interpretation by Japanese actors, constructing a certain image of Japan and its diplomacy.