Changing Equations in the Japan-Russia-China Triangle

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The Asia-Pacific Region has become one of the main playing fields of global competition. As a matter of fact, it is seen that Japan, an important ally of the West, has increased its influence and power in the region. With its new proactive foreign policy, the Tokyo administration has made its position in the region more critical in the geopolitical power struggle. Considering that the country at issue has increased its defense expenditures,[1] toughen its attitude towards Russia and China,[2] and the defense-based agreements it has signed with Western states, it can be said that Tokyo is getting closer with the United States (US) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) day by day. .

At this point, the defense agreement signed in London in January 2023 between British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is important.[3] In addition, it is important that Japan is accepted as a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).[4] It is also critical that the G7 Summit in 2023 will be held in Hiroshima, Japan, and Tokyo will take on the G7 Presidency.[5] As a matter of fact, this indicates that Japan will improve its relations with the G7 countries. Within the framework of all these developments, it can be argued that Japan will accelerate its Western-centered proactive foreign policy.

In addition, as mentioned above, it is clear that Japan has strengthened its anti-Russia and anti-Chinese rhetoric. In this context, at the cabinet meeting held on January 27, 2023, the Tokyo administration’s decision to impose additional sanctions on Russia as a response to the Russia-Ukraine War is an indicator of Tokyo’s hardened attitude towards Moscow.[6] Therefore, it can be predicted that the G7 countries, especially Japan, will take a tougher stance against Moscow.

On the other hand, in various statements made by the leaders of the G7 countries, it is emphasized that they will increase the pressure on Russia. In particular, it can be deduced that G7 countries were influenced by Tokyo, not Japan by G7. Because Kishida visited many of the G7 countries before these discourses were used.[7] It is known that Japan’s strong US and NATO perspective pushes it to make harsher rhetoric against the “other” states of the West, such as China and Russia. As a result, it can be said that Japan’s harsh rhetoric has affected the attitudes of the G7 countries in terms of anti-Russian rhetoric. Because it is seen that the anti-Russian discourse developed by Japan with its foreign policy breakthrough through both the UNSC and the G7 is also supported by the West.

In the context of China, it is remarkable that Kishida defines the military agreements between the USA and Japan as a “turning point”.[8] Cooperation on the Tokyo-Washington line is basically shaped by anti-China. Within this scope, it is worth mentioning the meeting between Kishida and US President Joe Biden in January 2023. As a matter of fact, during the meeting in question, ideas were exchanged about naval bases.[9]

As it is known, the USA and Japan are establishing alliances over the seas due to China’s claims about Taiwan. At this point, especially naval bases are being revised and the number of bases is increased. In addition, the allegations that the USA wants to be active again at the Manila Base are also on the agenda.[10] It can be stated that the reason why Japan both strengthens its anti-Beijing stance and supports the US presence in the region is the possibility of a possible hot war to affect the Japanese Islands as well. Because the West thinks that these islands have strategic importance in a possible war over Taiwan. For this reason, it can be argued that there is a relationship shaped by the logic of win-win between countries.

For Tokyo, it is an advantage that the USA provides protection on the Japanese Islands. However, at the same time, this situation also contributes to the geopolitical superiority of the USA against China through the Taiwan Crisis, as it means that Washington has influence on islands in the question.

As a result, it is possible to argue that Tokyo’s opposition to Beijing and Moscow will continue. Therefore, unless issues such as the Russia-Ukraine War and the Taiwan Crisis are resolved, the tension between the West and these actors is likely to continue. Of course, in this case, it is inevitable for Japan to harden its rhetoric and actions.

[1] “Japan Unveils REcord Defence Budget Amid Regional Security Fears”, Al Jazeera,,by%20China%20and%20North%20Korea., (Date of Accession: 15.04.2023).

[2] “Tokyo Urged to Heed Rational Voices on China After it Hypes REgular China-Russia Air Patrols”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 15.04.2023).

[3] “Japan, UK Sign ‘Hugely Significant’ Defence Deal’, Al Jazeera,, (Erişim Tarihi: 15.04.2023).

[4] “Japan Joins U.N. Security Council as New Nonpermanent Member”, Kyodo News,, (Date of Accession: 15.04.2023).

[5] “Japan to Host G7 Summit in Hiroshima Next May”, Japan Times,, (Erişim Tarihi: 15.04.2023).

[6] “Japan Cabinet Approves Additional Sanctions on Russia”, NHK World Japan,, (Date of Accession: 15.04.2023).

[7] “Japan Prime Minister is Touring G7 Allies in Europe and North America”, Yahoo Finance,, (Date of Accession: 15.04.2023).

[8] “Japan’s Plans for an Anti-China Alliance”, The Spectator,, (Date of Accession: 15.04.2023).

[9] Ibid.

[10] “US Gets Access to 9 Military Bases in the Philippines; China Warns Manila of Being ‘Dragged into Troubled Waters’”, The Eurasian Times,, (Date of Accession: 15.04.2023).

Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan Gülten graduated from Yalova University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations in 2021 with his graduation thesis titled "American Foreign Policy" and from Anadolu University, Open Education Faculty, Department of Foreign Trade in 2023. Gülten, who is currently pursuing her Master's Degree with Thesis at Marmara University Institute of Social Sciences, Department of International Relations, was a student at the Faculty of International and Political Studies at Lodz University for a semester within the framework of the Erasmus+ program during her undergraduate education. Working as an Asia-Pacific Research Assistant at ANKASAM, Gülten's main areas of interest are American Foreign Policy, Asia-Pacific and International Law. Gülten is fluent in English.