Normative power Japan: settling for ‘Chinese democracy’
Tokyo has recently decided to utilize foreign aid more strategically so as to make ‘Proactive Contributions to Peace and Security’ and align aid with what is identified as Japanese national interests: to protect an international order governed by rules and based on democracy, human rights and rule of law. Some scholars have even started to talk about Japan as a ‘Normative Power’—an actor with the ability to set what is considered ‘normal’in international affairs. In an attempt to ‘measure’ any potential Japanese normative power, it is being argued that Japan can be identified as a normative power when it comes to setting the ‘rule of law’ (at sea) as legitimate and normal behavior, which has been facilitated by utilizing foreign aid strategically to claimants in the South China Sea dispute. However, said normative power does not seem to be applicable to other non-security related realms of Japanese national interests—protecting democracy and human rights in Asia. It is suggested that actual implementation of aid geared towards protection of such values are only as important to Tokyo as the extent to which it creates leverage against its main competitor in the region, China.