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Scientist's Viewpoint

Publishing the following article of R. Sh. -A.  Aliev [Oleg Arin (R.  A L I E V), Dr. Sc. (Hist.] an expert in Japanese foreign policy the journal's Editorial Board does not side with all the propositions set forth by the author.

We presume that in the climate of glasnost this potent stimulator of science's democratization it is necessary to bring up for open discussion the problems that had, in fact, remained banned for quite some time, though they were discussed rather heatedly now and then in the academic quarters and claimed, the attention of the most dissenting scholars who delved into such an important problem as Japan's role and place in the contemporary world.

Polemic Notes of a Japanese Affairs Specialist


Mikhail Gorbachev stated during his May 1988 meeting with the Chairman of the Japanese Socialist Party's Central Executive Committee that "Japanese-Soviet relations resemble a smoldering bonfire without flame, but with enough smoke" 1 The blame for this was usually laid at Japan's door.  This could not serve our purpose, however. The new political thinking compels us to review our policy vis-à-vis Japan critically, to verify the evaluations and conclusions which, to our mind, had determined and continue to determine that country's actions in the international arena, and with respect to the Soviet Union, too.  After all, the constructiveness of our policy towards Japan and the state of relations between the two countries will largely depend on the  correctness of our idea of Japan---views that exclude false, time-serving stereotypes -and on the level of Soviet studies of that country.  Mikhail Gorbachev pointed out at the  aforementioned meeting that a "full and clear picture of our stands" was required in this connection.

It will be difficult to acquire such clarity especially complete clarity, as long as there are quite a few uninvestigated or, to my mind, one-sidedly interpreted and hence distorted problems and subjects in Soviet Japanology.

These are problems to which the author intends to draw the attention of Japanologists.  Adduced also will be the ways and means of investigation which deserve thorough discussion Tile following article should be regarded as an initiation to participate in such an endeavor.


For our purpose the word "place" should be interpreted as the country's ordinal in the level of economic development (potential) given in absolute figures in comparison to other states. The generally accepted indicators of this potential include the gross national product and a country's share in world industrial production. These figures are usually

supplemented by spending on R&D to give a clearer idea of its scientific and technological standards. The volume of foreign trade and investment abroad as well as their share in world commerce and in world foreign investments, go to show a country's involvement  in international economic relations

Since the sixties Soviet publications have teen asserting that Japan holds second place after the United States in the capitalist t world as regards the key economic macro-indicators in this decade however the view is being expressed in Japan and in the United States that the former has moved to second place in the world, outstripping the USSR. (2) The Soviet press has not disputed this assertion

Figures for 1987 appear to confirm the Western evaluation.  Japan's gross national product amounts to about $2,800 billion as against the USSR's 2,400 billion; the shares of the two countries in world industrial production are 15 and 14 per cent respectively (according to verified data of B. M. Bolotin a Soviet economist); their spending on R & D stands at about $55-60 and 60 billion (estimated figures) and their foreign trade figures are $379 billion and 215,1 billion respectively. Japan's direct investments abroad are approximately $136 billion. (3)

It is difficult to present an objective picture of Soviet and Japanese economic potentials due to insufficient and incompatible data. Nonetheless, it is perfectly clear that economic is have to put this matter straight so that we would have a clear idea of the correlation of stir economic potentials.  This will enable us, on the one hand, to assess our own possibilities and, on the other, the possibilities of Japan.  Insufficient attention to this question tends to enhance mistrust towards Soviet science and indirectly toward Soviet policy.


Two terms denoting Japan's role in the world--power center and center of inter -imperialist rivalry - have become current in scientific literature in the early seventies Their emergence is explained by the fact that Japan has turned into the capitalist world's second economic power competing successfully with the two other "power center", the United States and the Common Market.

The first term appears to be inexact It actually equates power with economic potential of at any rate suggests that power and potential are directly proportional.  In reality the interdependence of these two categories is quite different. Power is a political category (as Engels and Lenin pointed out on several occasions) and is associated not with potential, but with politics.  This is precisely the reason why Japan, though possessing huge economic potential is not satisfied with her political role in the world.

In other words, it is not economic potential but politics that may be charged with power capacity, not necessarily in the form of violence but in the sense that it is capable of exerting substantial influence on the alignment of forces in the world and of even altering the pattern of international relations.

Politics, as an area of human activity is related to different domains and is therefore subdivided into economic, military, diplomatic, ideological and other polices. It ought to be noted that the possibilities of each subdivision depend on a state's economic potential or, to be more exact, on its curtailed part, constituting the basis of this or that policy. Thus,  the possibilities of economic policy are determined in no small measure by economic potential and of military policy--by military strength.  Even ideological policy depends,  to a certain extent, on the. efficiency of a state's mass media.  Nevertheless, politics and potential are not directly and proportionally dependent.  Politics does not depend completely on the volume of its basis source. A country may posses a huge economic potential, but can suffer a fiasco in economic policy, just as a huge war-making potential does not always guarantee victory. Hence,  the categories in question tend to fall into the following line: potential-politics-power,  the central link of which is politics.

This brief digression into theory was needed to determine whether Japan is a "power center" or not;  and if she is, then of what magnitude?

We may admit, not without considerable reservations which will be explained later, that Japan has only one instrument of power - her trade and financial capacity. The successful expansions of Japanese monopolies to practically all the market of the world, their regular triumph in economic competition with monopolies of tile United States and the EEC nations testify to the power features of  Japan's economic policy, which is in a position to exert tremendous influence on the overall states of the capitalist economy. Viewed from this angle, Japan's global role may be qualified as that of a "center of commercial and financial power". Considering the essential manifestations of this ''power", it will be right to apply to it the characteristics mentioned in the second formula: Japan is a center of inter-imperialist rivalry.


The query is not aññidental here.  Firstly, this subject has never been discussed before in Soviet Japanology and, secondly,  this is precisely the reason why in-depth studies of the problem are needed.

From tile point of view of old stereotypes two class ideologies -- capitalist and socialist are in constant confrontation throughout the world. Generally speaking, it finds reflection in the East West contest and, more concretely, that between  the United States and the USSR as principal bearers of the two different ideologies. The contemporary world, however, is not two--colored, but rather polychromatic. There is a vast number of intermediate ideologies - from openly fascist to extremely leftist radical ones.

Cardinal changes are taking place in the social patterns of different societies under the impact of the new phase of the scientific and technological revolution. The world's social pluralism, its multy-layered structure with numerous transitional forms of social development tend to engender a new system of general regularities, which have to be grasped by means of non-standard theoretical studies. This was pointed out at the 9th Congress of the German Communist Party on January 7, I989, by Alexander N. Yakovlev, member of the political bureau and secretary  of the CPSU Central Committee (4). And since we have begun to recognize  multiple models of socialism's development (for instance, socialism with Chinese specifics),  there ii even less ground to believe that there is only one rigid model of capitalism today. It is no less variegated than socialism. An example of one of its versions is the Japanese model of social development, which is gradually beginning to win over adherents in other countries, primarily in Asia and the Pacific.

What is more, it would be wrong to regard the Japanese model through the economic prism alone.  It is a specific model of society's development comprising several components,  apart from the economic one: low military potential, a distinct social administration, religious pluralism in the form of syncretic coexistence, a peculiar fusion of different cultures, high literacy standards of the population, relatively insignificant social tensions, a vast share of the "middle class", fast rate of scientific and technological progress, etc.

  The interaction of all these components makes possible the "end product'' known as the "Japanese model of social development". It is corroborated by varies ideological and political trends., flavored by a spate of nationalistic and "unique national origin" concepts.  Thus, the alternative-modernizing trend in ideology, advocating the idea of the Japanese model's distinctive originality, claims that it is applicable to all modernization processes without exception, including those in advanced modern societies.

The Japanese ruling circles have grown perfectly aware of their  model's "exclusiveness" and are advertising it most actively abroad. This was particularly noticeable during Yasuhiro Nakasone's term of office. He himself more than once stressed the exclusiveness of the Japanese nation and its culture. (5)

It i, probably premature to extol  Japan's successes in the given domain, but their underestimation can hardly be deemed justifiable, too. New efforts to assess Japan's capability, of becoming an ideological power center appear to be expedient.


The idea that Japan was not free to conduct an independent foreign policy,  that she unconditionally backs America's international strategy had been prevalent in party documents and scientific literature approximately up to the mid-eighties. Then Japan's role as an "independent factor" in world politics began to be current in our assessment. The latter thesis is eloquently refuted by Japan herself not only as regards military strategy, but in what is usually termed diplomacy, too.*  Tokyo's  diplomacy has so far given no reasons for the conclusion that Japan is steering an independent line, particularly in the solution of East-West problems.

At the same time, Soviet studies note absolutely correctly Japan's superiority in the ongoing economic competition with her allies the US included in which Japanese monopolies are often able to take the upper hand. Attention is not infrequently drawn to the contradiction between Japan's weak diplomatic positions and her weight in economic relations with the United States.

It appears to us that this contradiction is imaginary. It should be borne in mind here, first and foremost, that Tokyo's official course is steered by the Japanese government, while the economic "war" is waged by the monopolies. Their relationships are determined by the law-governed regularities of state-monopoly capitalism,  whose contradiction and unity are inherent in its "genetic code".  The functional distinctions of the state and the monopolies can be traced more clearly in foreign  policy. In other words, contradictions between them are simply inevitable.

But the following question arises in this case: can the discrepancy between Japan's diplomatic dependence on the United States and her economics independence be viewed through the prism of contradictions? Putting it differently, is it not better for Japanese state-monopoly capitalism as a whole, that is for the Japanese monopolies themselves, to pursue a diplomacy of dependence on Washington, deliberately giving up all claims for independence?  After all, any stand, differing from that of the United States and testifying to Japan's independence, would require independent commitments, their inevitable backing by corresponding resources. This is the minimum. Development of this tendency - the increasing range of commitments- -would as the maximum,  bring about a revision of the entire system of international relations, Japan's place and role within it.  Tokyo's abrupt change in its approach to Vietnam and

* As a matter of fact Soviet Japanologists,  with only a few exceptions, identify

diplomacy with foreign policy;  this makes it different to make out what subject they are dealing with.

the DPRK contradicting Washington's  stand, would inevitably entail a modification of the American -Japanese alliance without any obvious positive consequences for Japan. The aftermath of such a move would rather be negative. Will it not then be better for Japan to follow "obediently" in the wake of the United States?

Tokyo's digression from Washington's line is not ruled out in principle, but it is liable to occur only if their mutual interest are not harmed or if the US leadership realizes that without such deviations their Far-Eastern ally might sustain "unacceptable damage'', as it sometimes happens in the Middle East and in Latin America.  Nevertheless, the post-war experience of Japanese diplomacy shows that Japan does not breach US trust, adheres to Washington's strategy with substantial advantage for itself.

It is pertinent to broach a more general question in this connection: does Japan need to play a major political role in the world?  Hasn't post-war practice shown that countries aspiring for a global political role which requires huge resources for maintaining this status, have run up against serious difficulties in their economic development?  And, vice versa, haven't the countries that seek no such role been rewarded by faster rates of economic development and higher living standards? Is it not more profitable for Japan to remain a "junior partner", continue the policy of a "minor political power" and concentrate on economic develop merit?

No straight answer is given to this question either in Japan or by Soviet Japanologists.  In my opinions, the Japanese monopolies need no global political role. Moreover, they ore doing their best to bolster this role of the United States, if only for the purpose of making the latter continue its mission of a political and military guarantor of security which in turn creates guaranteed conditions for the free operation of Japanese monopolies.

Furthermore, as shown by practical experience Tokyo's public support for Washington's positions in no way prevents the self-safe monopolies from carrying on commercial and economic transactions even with the countries with which the United States is in overt or covert confrontation (Cuba, Nicaragua,  Afghanistan, Syria, etc.)

Hence subordination to US diplomacy and the role of a "minor political power" fully suit the interests of Japanese state-monopoly capitalism. This status, however, not merely meets the interests of Japan, but is objectively called forth by the nature of Japanese- American economic relations.  Japan has simply turned this "objective necessity" to her advantage.

It is now time to take up the thesis that Japan is a "trade and financial power center" which was advanced with major reservations in the first place.  What are these "reservations"?

When our scholars expound on Japanese-American commercial and economic "wars", they usually speak of the former's triumph over the latter.  But this is art outward aspect of these relations.  The inner aspect is determined by the results of these "triumphs".  And they tend to bring about such a degree of economic interdependence between the two countries that leads to weaving a tight integrational fabric conducive to their advancement towards ultimate unification. Such, at least, is the conclusion which some American Japanologists are beginning to arrive at, while Soviet scholars prefer to gloss over this pressing scientific problem.

The answer to the following very important practical question depends, however, on the clarification of this issue: will the two centers of economic rivalry eventually merge into one American--Japanese financial and economic power center? This calls for the investigation of American-Japanese financial relations, which remain practically unexplored in our country.

One thing is clear today: despite all the economic interdependence of the two powers, the Japanese economy is more dependent on that of the United States and not vice versa.  This conclusion is confirmed not oddly by the proportions of commercial relations, but, primarily, by Japan's dependence on American food products and strategy raw materials. (6) Japan's economic dependence on the United States is precisely the tap-root of Tokyo's political dependence on Washington, which the former exploits so successfully in its interests.


Japan's dependence on the United States is also due to the vulnerability of imperialism's Far Eastern center, which, of course, deprives it in even greater measure of the chance to pursue an independent policy.  And here the question may arise again: is Japan eager to reduce this strategic vulnerability by sharply boosting her own military potential with a view to becoming a "great military power"?

In principle Japan has, as noted more than once in scientific literature, sufficient resources to achieve such a status. She is even in a position to build up a nuclear potential equivalent to the combined nuclear capacity of Britain and France or to that of China. Although Soviet authors have noted this possibility in military literature for more than thirty years now Japan has not embarked upon this road.  Some scientists choose to explain this by corresponding clauses of the Japanese constitution,  the three non-nuclear principles, pacifist sentiments in the country, etc.

Without discounting these reason we believe that there is another, still more important motive: the Japanese ruling quarters' reluctance to turn their country into an independent military power.  And the point is not only that this would trigger off an outburst of anti-Japanese sentiments in Southeast Asia.  Such a turn would be received without much enthusiasm in the United States too, let alone the USSR and China. According to American estimates Japan would have had to boost her military budget three-fold that is, to raise it to $70 billion in order to ensure the security of the country and the surrounding areas now covered by the system of  American-Japanese military arrangements. (7) Elevation to the status of a nuclear power would have required  structural modification of the military potential, which would cost, according to the most cautious estimates, as much as $250-300 billion over the next three years. Most paradoxical is the fact that even in this case Japan would be unable to cope with the problem of her own security without reliance on the United States.

In spite of such estimates, some Soviet Japanologists, just as some of their Western colleagues, do not rule out the possibility of Japan becoming an independent military power of strategic importance. Such a course of the country's development I believe, is hardly probable.  First, the on-going American-Soviet dialogue on the lowering of the level of military-strategic parity is irreversible since in this contest  strategic nuclear weapons have largely lost their deterrent value.  Second, if even this process begins to stall, Japan will find it still more advantages to remain beneath the US nuclear umbrella instead of spending her resources on the development of the national military potential, which would eventually be scrapped.  Only a government lacking all common sense could embark upon the road of total militarization and thus loose the advantages of its "non- military'' power image.  Third it is possible to reproduce capitalist relations and to ensure national interests by non-military and political means. And if this is so, what is the point of putting into play additional resources in the form of military instruments of foreign policy.? The latter are put to use whenever economic means prove ineffective.

Hence, the role of an independent military power does not meet the national interests of Japan. The Japanese side finds it most befitting, therefore, to retain the status of a junior military partner within the framework of the American-Japanese alliance.

In our scientific and political literature Japan is, nevertheless, presented chiefly as a militaristic power. (8) This is done mostly primitive.  Japan's present military spending are compared with those of the early sixties to illustrate their growth, overlooking the fact that her military budget is smaller today than that of Saudi Arabia, for instance, at the 1985 rate.  Comparisons of Japan's budget of military potential with those of Britain, France and the FRG are avoided, (9) the latter in the Soviet press do not come under equally heavy fire of the critics of militarism.  As for Japanese militarism, reference is often made to pronouncements of the country's extreme rightists, to Japan's overall economic,  scientific,  and technological potential which 'might'' be converted into war-making potential.  No explanation is given, however, as to why this possibility has not materialized to this day.  The following "argument" is often adduced:

"Inasmuch as modern militarism is a 'living embodiment of capitalism'... it is characteristic of all capitalist countries and is imperialist militarism. Therefore, it is academic to argue whether Japanese militarism exists or not" (10)  And if this is so, Japan being an imperialist power, will inevitably become a military power, too--an idea which renders general disarmament impracticable..

The "enemy image'' is bolstered up in this way with all the attendant consequences. This situation, which does not reflect actual reality, necessitates new studies of Japan's military policy, a reconsideration of the "militarism" and "military-industrial complex" concepts.  The correlation of  economy and military policy should be viewed from a new angle in keeping with the new phenomena brought about by the contemporary phase of scientific and technological process.  More attentions should be given, it appears, to Japan's participation in the American SDI and SCI (Strategic Computer Initiative) programs.  In any case, investigation of Japan's military problems should be unbiased and cleansed of old stereotypes induced by the past experience of our relations with her during the Second World War.  Faulty evaluations of Japan's military role entail miscalculations in our domestic and our external policies.


The state of inter-imperialist relations, the correlation of centrifugal and centripetal forces within them, and also the level and character of contradictions between the three centers of imperialism are among the most important element of world politics. They tell (fell ?) directly among other factors, on the build-up of imperialism's aggregate potential and, consequently, on the correlation of forces of the opposing social systems.

The 27th CPSU congress reaffirmed the conclusion of the 24th Congress that the three center of imperialism abound in overt and covet contradictions find that their relationships lead not to the elimination but rather to the aggravation of contradictions.

These important conclusions have not received scientific confirmation in the works of our Japanologists. This is borne out of the fact that there is not a single monograph or even article dealing with their "three center " (11)  The subject of relations between Japan and Western Europe is a blank spot in our studies.  This means that one of the most importer facets of the US-EEC-Japan triangle has escaped the attention of our Japanologists. The works that have been devoted to this subject were produced by Americanologists who delve into the US economy.

This means that Japanologists are freed with the task of investigating relationships between the three centers from the Japanese angle, which is bound to furnish answers to several questions such as:

What tendency is furthered by the aggregation of contradictions within the triangle toward its even closer unity or separation? And, concurrently, are not these contradictions resolved with a view of depending of economic relations between the three centers?

What is the correlation between inter-imperialist cooperation in the sphere of security and diplomacy, on the one hand, and contradictions in the economic sphere, on the other?

What are the effects of this correlation in interactions within the triangle (or, putting it more broadly, in the West) in the South (within the developing world) and in the East (in the socialist sphere)?

Elaboration of this subject from the Japanese angle will enable us to reflect more fully the real state of relations between the three centers of imperialism both in official (i. e. government) and party documents.



The problem of contradictions within the imperialist system is of course, given particular attention in party literature. The CPSU program says, specifically that new economic centers of rivalry have emerged, above all in the Pacific and in Latin America.

Japanological works devoted to the expansion of Japanese monopolies also expound the thesis of their competition with US and EEC monopolies.  Unfortunately such theses are not subjected to sufficiently concrete analysis. This probably happens for fear lest such an analysis fails to confirm fully the theoretical postulate of "rivalry".  As to the Pacific region, we are witnessing there differences of the stands of Japan and the United States, rather than rivalry, which presupposes struggle in what areas are these divergence's evident?

The APR's growing economic potential and the immense opportunities for its development, the huge market and deposits of important raw materials, etc.,  tend to turn the region into an arena of conflicting interests between the American and Japanese monopolies.  At the same time, Japanese-American political interactions there is marked (with a few exceptions) by a rather high degree of coordination and, more important, by mutual complementary. This is primarily due to the mutual desire of the US and Japanese ruling quarters to keep this strategically important region, for all its exceptionally complicated and motley pattern of international relations, seats of conflict, numerous and diverse internal and external contradictions within the orbit of capitalism.  The existing difference between US and Japanese policies in the region is primarily due to different approaches to power methods.

The ruling quarters in Japan are interested, above all, in ensuring the socio-political and economic stability of this region, which, Tokyo believes is the key precondition for the successful operation of Japanese capital there.  The main instrument serving this end is economic aid to developing nations and contribution to the solution of social problems fraught with an aggravation of the political situation.

On the whole, the APR situation causes no particular concern to the Japanese ruling quarters today. The Philippines are the only exception. Stabilization of the situations in that country, Tokyo believes depends largely on the economic aid extended to it both through government and private channels--aid which, from Japan's viewpoint, should be increased.

Washington attaches particular importance to the strengthening of US military positions in Asia and the Pacific, to its military build-up there, to the setting up, under its aegis, of a system of  military-political alignments embracing the entire region. This line tends to strain Japanese-American relations to some extent, since as presumed by the Japanese leadership, excessive US military activity in the region is liable to provoke corresponding Soviet steps. There were rather sharp Japanese-American contradictions over the problem of setting up a "Pacific Community" inasmuch as Washington conceived it not only as an economic but also a military alignment. This was absolutely unacceptable to Tokyo, which ultimately doomed the idea to fiasco.

There is a very complicated balance of interests, an intricate interlacement of cooperation and differences between the Untied States and Japan at the level of sub regions.  Very indicative differences exist, for instance, in the approaches of the two countries to the Korean issue. The United States has practically no relations with the DPRK, and if the present situation persists,  the possibility of direct relations between the two states will remain problematic. On top of this American business shows practically no interest in the North Koreans market. As distinct from the United States, Japan established  unofficial business and political contacts with the DPRK in the seventies and continues in pursue this line.

The North Korean market is much too narrow and unstable for Japanese business. The trade turnover, usually not exceeding $300-500 million a year, is rather insignificant in Japan's view.  Nevertheless the fact that the Export-Import Bank of Japan guarantees Japanese transactions with the DPRK is proof of the state's political interest in economic relations with the DPRK. On the whole, Japan is careful not to irritate the DPRK, and whenever necessary, to use it as a political trump card against South Korea and sometime even against the United States.

Japan's calmer and more skeptical evaluation of the "North Korean menace'' has caused disagreements with the United States and South Korea. Proceeding from this assessment, Tokyo consistently avoids any commitments to ensure the security of the Seoul regime. On the other hand, Japan's effort to promote South Korea's economic stability, allowing for the consolidation of the positions of Japanese capital in that country, irritates the American rivals. The USA is also worried about by the fact that close ties between Tokyo and Seoul top business quarters tend to weaken, in some measure, American influence in South Korea.

And, finally, there are contradictions in the American and Japanese approaches to the question of Korea's renunciation. Although the United States, like Japan, sees no feasible ways to solve this problem in the foreseeable future, the hue and cry deliberately raised around the problem of Korea's unity (just like around  the German issue in Europe) in no way contradicts Washington's global strategic interests.  Extrapolating to the future the current trends in the correlation of forces on the Korean Peninsula, The United States is, in principle, not opposed to the idea of Korea's renunciation on terms suiting  American imperialism.

Although such a prospect would,  it appears, promote imperialism's overall interests in the Far East, it vexes  the Japanese ruling quarters.  Tokyo regards South Korea as its potential and even current rivals and is, therefore, interested in perpetuating the status quo on the Korean Peninsula.  These long-term factors often compel the Japanese government to resort in crafty political maneuvers both in relations with its allies and with its potential adversaries.  These factors determine the need, it is believed in Japanese government echelons, to steer a middle course in relations with Seoul and Pyongyang.  Herein lies, in fact,  the inner most reason behind American-Japanese disagreement and contradictions around the Korean problem, which are liable to aggravate with time.

Japan's policy vis-à-vis Indochina is more flexible  than that of the United States.   Though rendering diplomatic and economic support to enemies of socialist Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea, Japan,  nevertheless,  foresightedly promotes through "private economic diplomacy'' economic cooperation with those countries and does not rule out an eventual normalization of political relations with them.


The works of Soviet Japanologists which are devoted to Japan's policy in the developing world, invariably use the term "expansion".  Stressed in this connection is its plundering, predatory character with respect to the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

But is this not natural? It would be most naive to express indignation in this connection,  to accuse Japan of pursuing an "unconstructive", "unequal" policy, since it is hardly possible to expect any other versions of expansion from her. This would be tantamount to ''cleaning'' imperialism of its very essence.

Marxist-Leninist theory has never denied offhand the positive aspects of commercial and economic expansion. According to the dialectic of this process such expansion, objectively speaking, gives a positive impulse to the economic and social development of Third World nations. It is not without reason that the governments of developing states often respond quite readily to Japanese capital investment in their economies by creating favorable conditions for it.  And it is not accidental, in this respect, that the newly-industrialized APR states, where Japan has gained a particularly firm foothold are known for their much higher rates of economic development than those nations that have not been infiltrated by Japanese monopolies at all or have been drawn by slightly into their orbit.

This expansion contributes to the economic growth of the recipient states.  By giving rise to new enterprises, employing hundreds of thousands of local workers, it stimulates the shaping of their class consciousness. This expansion is fraught with future social upheavals of huge dimensions.  "The dual mission" of colonialism, both destructive and creative,  noted in the works of Karl Marx (12) and mentioned repeatedly by Lenin, remains valid and applicable to neocolonialism, too. Though noting the first part of this formula, our scholars prefer to ignore its second part completely.

Out studies on Japan's problems treat with equal naivete the official aid it renders the Third World nations. The word "aid" is usually given in inverted commas, and this so-called aid,  the authors claim, is a convenient form of expansion, an instrument of neocolonialism.

It is absolutely natural that, from the subjective point of view, such aid is bound to meet the economic interests of Japanese monopolies ( its objective aspect has already been noted).  But it should not be overlooked, of course, that this aid has important ideological undertones. Most of it, or at least its major portions, are channeled to nations that are in open confrontation with the socialist countries (for instance, to Thailand, South Korea and Pakistan), or to areas rent by social tensions endangering the capitalist system ( e.g.  the Philippines). And in this question the Japanese monopolies are true to their own logic: they are eager to back or consolidate conditions for capitalist reproduction.

The only way to counteract Japanese expansion in the form of commerce, investment or aid is to offer the Third World nations more attractive alternatives. As long as we are unable to come up with such alternatives, the developing nations will be compelled to seek aid from Japan, providing the latter with adequate conditions for expansion.  And there remains nothing for us to do, at least for the time being, but to reflect objectively and in a truly Marxist way on the future of Japanese presence in Asia.


As noted earlier the nature of Soviet-Japanese relations is determined in no small measure by our views on Japan, on her domestic and external policies. The foregoing criticism of these concepts, set forth in our literature, should lead to the conclusion that they do not correspond to the actual state or affairs or, to say, the least, fall short of reality. The same holds true of works directly devoted to Soviet-Japanese relations. Here I should like to deal briefly with two instances.

Quite a large number of publications are devoted to commercial and economic relations between the USSR and Japan.  Most of them, however, are replete with statistics and lack an in-depth analysis of the reasons behind their unfavorable development. In the latter case attention is usually drawn to external factors, mostly political,  such as the growing anti-Sovietism in Tokyo and US pressure.  Very little is, said, and even then in passing, about the structural reorganization of the Japanese economy, the structural drawbacks at the Soviet economy, particularly it the Far East, and lack of mutual economic complementary. There is absolutely no analysis of our economic policy (policy not relations) vis-à-vis Japan. Suffice it to compare  any of our works on Soviet- Japanese relations with the monograph America Versus Japan, (12) which highlights the state and problems of US-Japanese economic relations, to see that American Japanologists are far more analytical than ours.

Even more limited, to my mind, are the evaluations of political relations between the USSR and Japan. Whereas works on the earlier history of Soviet-Japanese relations meet to some extent the requirements of historical science, contemporary is history presented, on the one hand, as a conglomeration of Soviet initiatives and, on the other, as a panoply of accusations against Japan, which refuses to accept and approve them.

And last but not least: we seldom come across works by Soviet is Japanologists, written in plain language and intended for  general readership. The Soviet public, unfortunately, gleans its information mostly from journalists essays, which cannot be viewed as scientifically trustworthy because of their casual character.

It will be right to say that the Soviet view on Japan's role in the world, represented in .Soviet Japanology, contradicts our interests as far as improvement of Soviet-Japanese relations is concerned. Some problems are omitted, others are distorted,  while still others are presented from positions of momentary advantage.

The reasons behind this,  to my mind, can be explained in the following way. The bulk of our Japanologists concentrate on individual problems or directions of Japan's foreign policy. This alone prevents them from making an objective assessment of Japan's policy as a whole, let alone her place and role in the world, since the latter requires at least a minimum amount of comparative analysis related to the three economic power centers. This explains the absence of works on this subject. The old truism is, thereby, confirmed: those who know only Japan know nothing about Japan.  Soviet Japanology like Sinology, for that matter, is plagued by its estrangement from political science and theory of international relations.  And the result is quite obvious.  We have many empirical works without fundamental theoretical generalizations.

This has brought about a situation where our research into Japan's foreign policy proves inferior to studies produced by Soviet Americanologists and experts on European problems. The situation is. aggravated by the emergence tendency to monopolize Japanology. Old stereotypes will merely be replaced by new once if this tendency gets the upper hand. Monopolism is dangerous in all spheres, and it is absolutely impermissible in science, as confirmed by the deplorable practice of our pre-perestroika period. Only diversity of views, schools and  concepts giving rise to debates and discussions can bring out the truth, so badly needed by science.

I cannot help noting the excessive attention groundlessly devoted in our Japanology to military problems. This tends to exaggerate Japan's militarization and, thereby, to be bolster up the "enemy image" .

Finally, scientific Japanology has for many years remained subordinated in fact, to top party bodies and the Foreign Ministry which determined in its final analysis, the conclusions and evaluations on these or other aspects of  Japan's foreign policy. Such dual subordination is typical, as a matter of fact, for social sciences in general, it restricts freedom of research and prompts the scholars to adjust themselves to the official line.


1. Pravda, May 7, 1988.

2. The Political Economy of Japan, Vol. 2, The Changing International Context.  Ed by T. Inoguchi and D. Okimoto, Stanford University Press, 1988, p. 1. In the opinion of the Japanese economist H. Kanamori, Japan outstripped the USSR as regards GNP back in 1978. Japan's Foreign Policy Line in the Eighties,  Tokyo, 1980 p. 60 (in Japanese).

3. Pacific Economic OutIook. Dynamism and Adjustment. Osaka 1988 pp. 237, 6O.  Japan Economic Almanac, Tokyo. 1988 p. 275;  Arguments and Facts, 1988 No. 1 p. 6 (in Russian);  Pravda, January 24, 1988.

4. Izvestia,  January 7, 1989.

5. The Flow of World Civilization and  Japan's Role in the 21st century. A Dialogue Between Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and Professor Takeshi Umehara, Tokyo, 1986.

6. R. S.-A. Aliev.  Foreign Policy of Japan in the Seventies and the Early Eighties (Theory and Practice), Moscow, 1986, pp. 224 226.

7. The point in questions is that Japan would have to assume the annual US spending on East Asia's security which according to S. Huntington,  Director of the Harvard University's International ReIations Center, ranges between $42 and $ 47

billion.  Foreign Affairs, 1987-1988. No. 3, p. 471. The figures are given at the exchange rate of 1985.

8. I. Sergienko, Revival of Militarism in Japan,  Moscow, 1968;  A. Markov. Japan: Course Towards Rearmament. Moscow, 1970;  Japanese Militarism. Moscow, 1972; S. Mazhorov, Military-Economic Potential of Modern Japan.  Moscow, 1979; I. lvkov Japan: Again on the Road to Militarization,  Moscow, 1980;  M. Ivanov, The Growth of Militarism in Japan, Moscow, 1982;  Ye. Zaitsev  and I. Tamginsky, Japan: Again the Road of MilitarizationMoscow, 1985;  S. Modenov, Revival of Japanese  Militarism--a threat for Peace in Asia, Moscow, 1986;  V. Sednev, Japan--Typhoon of Militarism, Kiev, 1987.

9.R. S.-A. Aliev, op. cit. pp. 194-195.

10.S.  Mazhorov,  op cit.,, P 7.

11.  I am tempted here to mention V. Lukin's work Power Center's: Concepts and Reality (Moscow, 1983).  But first this book was written not by a Japanolologist while we are now dealing with Japanology;  second, it is devoted to the foreign policies of each of these "centers", while little attention is given in it to interaction among them. Finally--and this is quite important--though disagreeing with the term "power" in the sense attributed to it by Western scholars, he does not give his own interpretation of the term, and actually adheres to the concept adduced by the school of "political realism". This does not lower the book's scientific merit since it stands out among other studies of this kind due to its theoretical and political value.

12. Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Vol.12.  Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1979, pp. 217-222.

  1. 13.America Versus Japan. Ed. by Thomas K. McGrow, Boston, Mass., 1986.

Polemic Notes of a Japanese Affairs Specialist. – Far Eastern Affairs, 1989, No 3.