Profound Forces in the Making of Modern Japan

Article appearing in Journal of Japanese Studies, Volume 32, Issue 2

The structure, governance, institutions, principles, and norms of the international system have decisively influenced modern Japan’s international behavior and its domestic political structure. It is a common characteristic of the conservative elites to vigilantly monitor and to adapt to its workings. This strategic style is a legacy of premodern influences and the formative experience of the Meiji Restoration. Each of the major transformations of the international system since the mid-nineteenth century induced sweeping changes in Japan’s foreign policy and domestic institutions. The end of the cold war system is doing likewise. Historiography should reflect this powerful influence.