Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Mohiaddin Mesbahi

First Advisor's Committee Title

committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Thomas A. Breslin

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Ronald W. Cox

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Steven Heine

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


Japanese foreign policy, Japan and Islam, Islam and security, securitization, geopolitics, pan-Asianism, clash of civilizations, resource politics, competing visions of Asia

Date of Defense



In 2006, Japanese Foreign Minister Asō Tarō outlined a new pillar of Japan’s foreign policy across Asia he called the ‘Arc of Freedom and Prosperity.’ The Arc would become the most lucid case for values-based diplomacy elaborated by Tokyo in the postwar era. It is a significant change from what was both a constrained and myopic approach for a state of such global economic influence and substantial diplomatic potential. In practice, however, is Japan’s values-based diplomacy actually working? How is Tokyo grappling with reconceptualizing an Asia inclusive of Muslim societies in a time when the global metanarrative is to protect against Islam?

Emphasis in this project is placed on Tokyo’s foreign policy with Muslim states along this Arc. The key research question in this project is: “How does Japan’s new conceptualization of Asia reconcile with its securitization of Islam?” Based on the two variables set in the research question, the project is divided into two parts: ‘Conceptualization,’ and ‘Strategy.’ ‘Conceptualization’ seeks to grasp Japan’s vision for Asia, and its role in the region. ‘Strategy’ builds on that, and surveys Japan’s relations with Muslim Asia through five facets of interactions.

This project relies heavily on three types of data sources: statements from political elites, influential think tanks in Japan, and leading Japanese academic scholars. Of particular value among statements from political elites are those from the Prime Minister’s office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Primary sources in the Japanese language and intended for Japanese readers are used as a research tool. Content analysis software is utilized to analyze and code texts within cases from these sources to reinforce the strength of the arguments made. By applying typological theory to refine conclusions from observations, this project shows that Japan’s securitization of Islam is distinct from Western, Russia, or Chinese securitization. Moreover, it demonstrates four concurrent views of Islam in Asia evident in Japan’s foreign policy and strategy.





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