Russian Japanology Review

Advanced search

Transformation of Japan’s Relations with Southeast Asia in the Second Half of the 20th – еarly 21st Centuries: Russia, Take Note

Full Text:


In the 20th century, relations between Japan and Southeast Asia experienced several dramatic ups and downs. Japan was the first non- European country that in the late 1930s presented its own vision of the regional order in Asia. The consequences of its implementation proved to be painful both for Japan itself and for its neighbors. After the Japanese defeat in World War II, the historical memory of Japan as an aggressor became part of political and social consciousness of many states of the region. However, in the second part of the 20th century, Japan managed to transform radically this perception in Southeast Asia, turning itself into a leading macro-regional power. This transformation did not come without difficulties but eventually resulted in a successful overcoming of the World War II legacy and made Japan one of the most welcomed alternative forces amidst the rising Sino- US contradictions. A new wave of proactive relations between Japan and Southeast Asia took place against the background of China’s economic rise and was connected with the advancement of the Japanese version of the Indo- Pacific as a reaction to China’s rise. This article argues that Japan’s success in its relations with Southeast Asia had several reasons. The first one was the reassessment of the Japanese structural role in the region (from a militarist force imposing a hierarchical regional order into a power which managed to organize regional development based on the network type of connections). Others included the progressive dynamics of institutional interaction with ASEAN and targeted cooperation  in the areas where Japanese interests coincided or were significantly  close to the interests of Southeast Asian states. Despite the fact that Russia can hardly repeat Japanese success in developing its relations with Southeast Asia, certain elements of it are well worth taking note of.

About the Author

E. V. Koldunova
MGIMO University
Russian Federation

Koldunova Ekaterina Valeryevna – Ph.D. (Political Science), Director, ASEAN Centre and Associate Professor, Department of Asian and African Studies, MGIMO University.

119454, Moscow, Vernadskogo Avenue, 76.


1. Acharya, A. (2001). Constructing a Security Сommunity in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the problem of regional order. London: Routledge.

2. Acharya, A. (2012). The Making of Southeast Asia: International Relations of a Region. Singapore: ISEAS.

3. Ben-Ari, E., & Clammer J. (2000). Japan in Singapore: Cultural Occurrences and Cultural Flows. Abington: Routledge.

4. Booth, A. (2007). Colonial Legacies: Economic and Social Development in East and Southeast Asia. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

5. Cribb, R. (1998). Burma’s Entry into ASEAN: Background and Implications. Asian Perspective, 22 (3), 49–62.

6. Hatch, W. (2010). Asia’s Flying Geese: how regionalization shapes Japan. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

7. Hiratsuka, D. (Ed.). (2006). East Asia’s De Facto Economic Integration. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

8. Katzenstein, P. & Rouse M. (1993). Japan as a Regional Power in Asia. In Jeffrey Frankel & Miles Kahler (Eds.), Regionalism and Rivalry: Japan and the United States in the Pacific Asia. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

9. Koga K. (2021). Japan-Southeast Asia Relations: A Diplomatic “New Normal” in the Indo-Pacific Region? Comparative Connections. A Triannual E-Journal on East Asian Bilateral Relations, 23 (1), 151–160.

10. Lam, P. E. (Ed.) (2013). Japan’s Relations with Southeast Asia: The Fukuda Doctrine and Beyond. London: Routledge.

11. Lang, H. (2020). Competing Visions of Japan’s Relations with Southeast Asia, 1938–1960. Identity, Asianism and the Search for a Regional Role. Munich: Nomos Verlag.

12. Lebra-Chapman J. (2010). Japanese-trained Armies in Southeast Asia. Singapore: ISEAS.

13. Lim, T. W. (2017). ASEAN-Japan Relations since 1977. In Tommy Koh, Sharon Seah Li-Lian & Chang Li Lin (Eds.), 50 Years of ASEAN and Singapore. Singapore: World Scientific.

14. Meshcheryakov, A. (2020). Strana Yaponiya: byt’ yapontsem [The Country of Japan: to be a Japanese]. Moscow: Lingvistika; Saint-Petersburg: Peterburgskoe Vostokovedenie. (In Russian).

15. Mishhenko, Ya. (2019). Ekonomicheskie svyazi Yaponii s gosudarstvami Yugo- Vostochnoi Azii v XXI veke [Economic ties between Japan and South-East Asia in the 21st century]. Yearbook Japan, 48, 132–154. (In Russian).

16. Panov, A., Sarkisov, K., & Streltsov, D. (2019). Istoriya vneshnei politiki Yaponii 1868–2018 gg. [History of the Foreign Policy of Japan in 1868–2018]. Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya. (In Russian).

17. Paramonov, O. (2021). Zemlya devyati slonov – M’yanma do i posle perevorota [The Land of the Eight Elefants – Myanmar before and after the coup]. Mezhdunarodnaya zhizn’. (In Russian).

18. Rathus, J. (2011). Japan, China and Networked Regionalism in East Asia. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

19. Seah, S. et al. (2021). The State of Southeast Asia: 2021. Singapore: ISEAS- Yusof Ishak Institute.

20. Shiraishi, M. (2009). Japan Toward the Indochina Sub-Region. Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies (Waseda University), 13, 13–36.

21. Streltsov, D. (2015). Vneshnepoliticheskie prioritety Yaponii v Aziatsko- Tikhookeanskom regione [Foreign Policy Priorities of Japan in the Asia- Pacific Region]. Moscow: Nauka – Vostochnaya Literatura. (In Russian).

22. Streltsov, D. (2020). Pamyat’ o voine kak samostoyatel’nyi faktor v otnosheniyakh Yaponii so stranami-sosedyami: k 75-letnei godovshchine kapitulyatsii Yaponii [War Memory as an Independent Factor in Japan’s Relations With Neighbors: On the 75th Anniversary of Japan’s Surrender]. Japanese Studies in Russia, 4, 78–97. (In Russian).

23. Stubbs, R. (1991). Reluctant leader, expectant followers. International Journal, 46(4), 649–667.

24. Sudo, S. (1992). The Fukuda doctrine and ASEAN: new dimensions in Japanese foreign policy. Singapore: ISEAS.

25. Suslina, S. (2012). Novoe integratsionnoe trio v mirovoi ekonomike [New Integrational Trio in the World Economy]. Russian International Affairs Council. (In Russian).

26. Takeda, Y. (1998). Japan’s Role in the Cambodian Peace Process: Diplomacy, Manpower, and Finance. Asian Survey, 38(6), 553–568.

27. Tang, S. M. et al. (2019). The State of Southeast Asia: 2019. Singapore: ISEAS- Yusof Ishak Institute.

28. Tang, S. M. et al. (2020). The State of Southeast Asia: 2020. Singapore: ISEAS- Yusof Ishak Institute.

29. Teo, V. (2021). Southeast Asia-Japan Ties after Abe and Trump. ISEAS Perspective, 32.

30. Won, Z. Y. (1978). Military Expediency: A Determining Factor in the Japanese Policy regarding Burmese Independence. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 9 (2), 248–267.


For citations:

Koldunova E.V. Transformation of Japan’s Relations with Southeast Asia in the Second Half of the 20th – еarly 21st Centuries: Russia, Take Note. Russian Japanology Review. 2022;5(1):28-48.

Views: 17

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ISSN 2658-6444 (Print)
ISSN 2658-6789 (Online)