The Courteous Power: Japan and Southeast Asia in the Indo-Pacific.

AuthorCiorciari, John D.

The Courteous Power: Japan and Southeast Asia in the Indo-Pacific. Edited by John D. Ciorciari and Kiyoteru Tsutsui. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2021. Softcover: 321pp.

The editors of The Courteous Power have assembled a superb cast of experts to provide a comprehensive analysis of Japan's deep and multifaceted relations with Southeast Asia. While recognizing the importance of the past, this volume contextualizes Japan-Southeast Asia relations in the new "Indo-Pacific era", following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's introduction of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision in 2016. The contributors examine how the FOIP concept has affected the basic principles of the Fukuda Doctrine (which has shaped Japan-Southeast Asia relations since 1977), how Southeast Asia has responded to Japan's FOIP vision, and how non-state actors have contributed to or helped shape Japan-Southeast Asian relations.

The Courteous Power is timely for two reasons. First, it shifts attention away from US-China competition and instead foregrounds Japan's role as an autonomous actor. Second, it does an excellent job of demonstrating, in vivid empirical and conceptual terms, Japan's critical but "underappreciated" (p. 1) role and influence in Southeast Asia, and the region's prominence in Tokyo's foreign policy strategy. In addition to the Introduction and Conclusion, the volume contains ten chapters which are divided into two sections. The first section, "Relations in the International Political Plane", includes chapters on Japan's role in the Southeast Asian regional order, Japan's evolving security posture and its efforts to shape ASEAN-led institutions and initiatives, and Southeast Asian perceptions of Japan. The second section, "Development, Culture, and Role of Non-State Actors", discusses how Japanese commerce, civil society and culture (including manga and anime) have contributed to Tokyo's growing ties with the region in the postwar period. These chapters track how Japan-Southeast Asia relations have evolved positively despite multiple challenges (including the unresolved legacies of wartime Japan, the rise of China and doubts about the staying power of the United States), while also demonstrating how regional responses to US-China competition can best be understood by unpacking the complexity in Japan-Southeast Asia relations. The positive evolution of Japan-Southeast Asian relations in multiple domains provides confidence to all states that...

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