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Japan’s Foreign Policy Towards the South Caucasus States Policy of ‘Low-Relevance and High Purpose’ on the Crossroad Between Russian and Western Interests

David Goginashvili


The paper discusses motives, decisive factors and limits of Japan’s ecisionmaking process concerning its policy towards Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – three South Caucasian states with drastically diverse foreign policy agenda. Academic analysis of Japan’s policy towards the South Caucasus (SC) region is dramatically underdeveloped.
Geographical remoteness is the main pitfall, preventing researchers from deeper scrutiny of the subject. However, Conceptualizing Tokyo’s engagement in the SC gives valuable insight on Japan’s positioning in the region, where Russia’s Geopolitical interests encounter the West’s increasing presence, which laid basement for reemergence of a so-called New Cold War international dimension. Japan’s relations with these actors directly influence on its SC policy, circumscribing Tokyo’s decision-making limits. Tokyo elaborated policy design with limited political element, both on bilateral and multilateral level, mainly based on depoliticized Official Development Assistance. We conceptualized Tokyo’s strategy as a policy of low relevance and high purpose, whereas Japan is endeavored to uphold its high political, economic and humanitarian objectives, by retaining low posture amid geopolitical confrontation over the region, following the principle of ownership, and thus maintaining low risk exposure to its regional and wider multilateral interests. The paper introduces comparative case study of Japan’s policy to the SC states and examines merits and disadvantages of such approach.


Japan; South Caucasus; Foreign policy; Geopolitics; Foreign Aid

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"Journal Global Policy and Governance" ISSN online 2194-7740 / ISSN print 2194-7759

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