2023 – 2024
Aarhus University Lund University Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)
The Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS)
The workshop series “Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy in East Asia: Japanese Responses” will address the role of emotion in International Relations. Although recognized as significant, there has been limited scholarship on how to theorize and better understand the implications of Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy in the East Asian context.
The basic rationale of this project is to understand the mechanisms behind Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy and their effects by using Japan’s bilateral relations with China, South Korea, and Russia as case studies. The choice of Japan as a case study is not only justified by the expertise of the main applicants but also by the fact that Japan has been both experiencing and practicing Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy for more than two decades.
As scholars specializing in East Asian international relations and security, with combined research experience on precisely these issues, we thus aim to:
In doing so, we will develop analytical tools that can be applied to studying Coercive Diplomacy in different regional contexts. Undoubtedly, the results are also highly relevant for the Nordic countries that are increasingly experiencing Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy through their relations with China as well as Russia.
The workshops are planned as in-person events in Aarhus, Lund, and Oslo and will gather early and mid-career researchers to analyze the various aspects of Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy in Japan’s relations to China, South Korea, and Russia, and to publish the results in a special issue of a highly ranked journal. As we deem the topic as highly relevant for the Nordic Countries’ foreign relations, the workshops’ most important results will also be presented to a wider non-academic audience at the end of the project cycle.
Another, but not less important, aspect of the workshops is to establish a network of early and mid-career scholars in the Nordic Countries and enable more collaboration in the future with the potential of developing the region as a center of expertise on the study of the convergence of Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy. With that purpose, we would like to utilize this project as the first step in a more ambitious and larger project application within the Horizon Europe framework 2023/2024.
The basic aims of the three workshops of the project are to:
The result of the workshops will be published in a special issue of a highly ranked journal. All workshops are planned as in-person events, but can be changed to virtual events if needed. The dissemination event, planned for December of 2024, will present the results, and will be designed in a hybrid format to enable the participation of a wide and international audience.
The first workshop took place in Aarhus from April 13 to 14 of 2023. Here, existing literature and a common theoretical framework for the project were discussed. We also jointly assessed each participant’s preliminary abstracts and how each individual researcher’s contributions would fit into the project as a whole.
The second workshop will take place in Oslo in January of 2024. In Oslo, the researchers will present their intended research plan in order to sharpen and improve the plans following extensive discussions.
The third and final workshop will take place in Lund during the summer of 2024. The primary goal will be to discuss the already-circulated drafts. After the workshop, the researchers will review their papers and send them in for the internal review before submission to the journal.
Long overlooked, the role of emotions has now become the central factor in shaping international relations (IR). The emergence of the “emotional turn” in IR from the beginning of the 21st century has challenged the prevailing notion that decisions made by states are “purely rational” and has put into question the idea that emotions compromise rational behaviour (Clément & Sangar, 2018). The insights provided by the proliferating literature on emotions in IR contend not only that emotions matter, but that they represent an intrinsic part of all decisions, given that emotions and cognition are deeply intertwined. In other words, decisions made without emotions often lack rationality (Mercer, 2010).
This project brings together early- and mid-career scholars who are interested in examining the convergence of Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy in East Asia. Coercive diplomacy involves achieving political objectives through means of intimidation but falls under the radar of physical conflict (George, 1991). Emotional diplomacy involves officially expressed emotions, particularly assertive negative feelings such as anger, indignation, and humiliation in diplomatic practices (Hall, 2015). It is distinct from normal diplomatic encounters as it often concerns emotionally charged exchanges that are conducted in public spaces.
Emotional assertiveness has been a defining characteristic of dyadic relations in the postwar period in the East Asian region. In recent years, we have witnessed a significant expansion of the use of coercive diplomacy, by both state and non-state actors, in increasingly tense regional flashpoints (e.g. the status of Taiwan; territorial disputes). Conflict escalation has involved not only varying degrees of militarization but crucially – and under-appreciated – parallel Coercive Diplomacy, involving emotional outbursts with harsh rhetoric, fiery media debates, and urgent summoning. Although recognized as significant, there has been limited scholarship on how to theorize and better understand the implications of Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy in these contexts.
The proposed project specifically examines the role of emotions in Japan’s international relations. Given the integral role of emotions in decision-making, understanding their impact on Japan’s internal and external political dynamics is crucial. This is particularly significant as the country broadens its influence in regional and global affairs.
The project will focus on three dyadic relations in particular: Japan-South Korea, Japan-China, and Japan-Russia, with a focus on episodes related to three persistent and intractable issues in the post war period: the territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands (Japan/China/Taiwan), the territorial dispute over the Northern Territories (Japan/Russia), and the comfort women issue (South Korea/Japan).
Furthermore, this project aims to problematize – and refine – IR theory, which has been developed based on the behaviour and experiences of Western states (Johnston, 2012). Such Eurocentrism has obvious implications for IR theory in general but also limits the thinkability of the role of emotions in IR. Thus, promoting research on Japan and other areas that are marginalized in the extant IR scholarship is crucial to challenging the existing bias that continues to favour single-country studies of Western states, the US in particular (Lipscy, 2023, pp. 81–83).
We propose an alternative solution – using Japan as a case not only for general theory-building and theory refining but contributing towards an East Asian region-specific scholarship, which recognizes the contingency and peculiarities of the region (Acharya, 2017; Foot & Goh, 2019). While acknowledging the universal nature of most emotions, we focus on the historical and contextual realities that can lead to distinctive emotional dynamics (Nair, 2019). Therefore, our primary aim is not only to explain the central role of emotions in foreign policy behaviour but also to treat them as “repositories of multiplicity” (Ling, 2014, p. 580) without advocating the view of Japan as a cultural exceptionalist country (nihonjinron).
While there are single studies on emotions and Japan’s foreign policy behaviour (Gustafsson & Hall, 2021; Ha & Hagström, 2022), there is a persistent lack of a comprehensive analysis of the role of emotions. We aim to address this lacuna by looking at the importance of emotions in different dimensions of Japan’s foreign policy through a range of case studies. The contributions to this project will address the role of emotions in Japan’s foreign policy in a range of contexts that can be summarized in three categories:
The proposed project explicitly encourages the contributors to apply a broad range of methodologies in order to elucidate the “fuzzy concept of emotions” and understand emotions’ origin history, meaning, and causality (Bleiker & Hutchison, 2018, pp. 325–327). The diverse case studies employ narrative, textual, and visual analyses, among other methods.
This empirically rich issue aims to bring the academic scholarship on emotions a step forward while also serving as an informative source for practitioners working on and in Japan. By taking the importance of emotions into consideration, there is the potential to elucidate the decision-making process of Japanese policymakers and to contribute to knowledge that can reduce the risk of misunderstandings.
Moreover, this topic is of particular relevance to Nordic states that are increasingly facing different forms of Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy in recent years, specifically in their relations with China and Russia. The project’s framework developed for the Japanese context could also be applied to the Nordic Countries to understand the form and effects of Coercive and Emotional Diplomacy in the region.
Acharya, A. (2017). ‘Theorising the international relations of Asia: Necessity or indulgence?’ Some reflections. The Pacific Review, 30(6), 816–828. https://doi.org/10.1080/09512748.2017.1318163
Bleiker, R., & Hutchison, E. (2018). Methods and Methodologies for the Study of Emotions in World Politics. In M. Clément & E. Sangar (Eds.), Researching Emotions in International Relations: Methodological Perspectives on the Emotional Turn (pp. 325–342). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-65575-8_14
Clément, M., & Sangar, E. (2018). Introduction: Methodological Challenges and Opportunities for the Study of Emotions. In M. Clément & E. Sangar (Eds.), Researching Emotions in International Relations: Methodological Perspectives on the Emotional Turn (pp. 1–29). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-65575-8_1
Foot, R., & Goh, E. (2019). The International Relations of East Asia: A New Research Prospectus. International Studies Review, 21(3), 398–423. https://doi.org/10.1093/isr/viy015
Gustafsson, K., & Hall, T. H. (2021). The Politics of Emotions in International Relations: Who Gets to Feel What, Whose Emotions Matter, and the “History Problem” in Sino-Japanese Relations. International Studies Quarterly, 65(4), 973–984. https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqab071
Ha, T.-N., & Hagström, L. (2022). Resentment, status dissatisfaction, and the emotional underpinnings of Japanese security policy. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, lcac006. https://doi.org/10.1093/irap/lcac006
Johnston, A. I. (2012). What (If Anything) Does East Asia Tell Us About International Relations Theory? Annual Review of Political Science, 15(1), 53–78. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.040908.120058
Ling, L. H. M. (2014). Decolonizing the international: Towards multiple emotional worlds. International Theory, 6(3), 579–583. https://doi.org/10.1017/S175297191400030X
Lipscy, P. Y. (2023). Japan: The harbinger state. Japanese Journal of Political Science, 24(1), 80–97. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1468109922000329
Mercer, J. (2010). Emotional Beliefs. International Organization, 64(1), 1–31. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818309990221
Nair, D. (2019). Saving face in diplomacy: A political sociology of face-to-face interactions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. European Journal of International Relations, 25(3), 672–697. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066118822117
April 13-14, 2023Aarhus
Summer 2024 Lund
Wrenn Yennie Lindgren firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Research Fellow, NUPI
Paul O’shea email@example.com
Senior Lecturer, Lund University
Raymond Yamamoto raymond.yamamoto @cas.au.dk
Associate Professor, Aarhus University