Japan’s foreign policy towards and relations with communist/socialist states, in particular with North Korea and the German Democratic Republic
“Japan’s foreign relations with the GDR“
1972 has been an important year for the GDR: by becoming a member state of the United Nations the GDR was thus internationally accepted as a fully fledged sovereign state. During the following years the GDR was able to establish foreign relations with more than 130 nations, including Japan. Already in 1973 the first GDR-embassy was set up in Tokyo.
Yet, even before that time informal contacts between both countries had been established. Starting with economic exchange in the early fifties, political contacts were soon secured. Besides meetings and consultations between party members and union representatives, the bilateral exchange included parlamentary, social, cultural, scientific, economic and political contacts.
However, an analysis of these relations has not been published so far. Most books deal with foreign policy of the GDR in general or with questions concerning the Japan-GDR trade. Publications in Japanese focus mainly on internal topics in the GDR, such as social and economic problems. Research on the bilateral relations including economic, political and cultural aspects covering the whole period, starting with the fifties until the end of the GDR is therefore the aim of this dissertation project.
With this historical case study of Japan’s foreign policy toward a former socialist country, I hope to make an important contribution to Japanese and German contemporary history studies as well as to foreign policy studies.
The research project will focus on three points:
- general historical overview
The foreign relations between Japan and the GDR can be devided roughly into two phases: the time preceding 1973 with mainly inofficial contacts, and the time after 1973 with diplomatic relations between both countries. These contacts and the different stages will be gathered giving an overall historic outline of the relationship.
- Background and motivation for building this relationship
Another main object of this research is the question why Japan had relations with the GDR. What were Japan’s motifs and reasons to establish contacts with this socialist state. Which interest groups in Japan influenced the government in its decision? How effectiv was there actual influence and what were there objectives?
- Japan-GDR relations in global context
Within the bipolar system of the post-war era both states belonged each to a different block. Japan was closely connected to the United States, while the GDR was regarded as a satelite state of the Soviet Union. For this reason, a thourough study of the Japan-GDR relationship and/or Japan’s foreign policy has to consider the respective relationships. States which were friendly aligned with West Germany (FRG) could, for example, not establish diplomatic relations with the GDR because of the so-called Hallstein doctrine.
This study will therefore examine the U.S.-Japan/ Japan-FRG and Japan-SU relationships.
While at the German Institut for Japanese Studies I will collect Japanese documents on this matter and will conduct interviews with experts and witnesses of that time.