IR Theory and the Origins of the Pacific War

  • Ko Unoki


Using the assumptions of Realism set out in Chapter 1 and the historical narrative of the preceding chapter, in this section we will present three theories that attempt to clarify the significance of certain historical events in Japanese-US relations and identify the themes of Realism embedded within them that led to the outbreak of the Pacific War. The first theory will focus on arguing that the outbreak of the Japanese-US conflict was the culmination of a nearly 100-year struggle for power to determine who would dominate the East Asian region. In contrast, the second theory argues that the outbreak of the Pacific War was due to a more immediate cause: the failure of the Powers in East Asia in maintaining a balance of power in the region. Finally, the third theory will argue that a major driver behind Japan’s launch of war against the US was the existence of the sentiment of fear that both Powers held towards each other’s growing power and ambition to establish hegemony in East Asia.


Open Door Open Door Policy Asian Mainland Chinese Nationalism Japanese Leader 
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  1. 1.
    Bolt, J., van Zanden, J.L., The Maddison Project: collaborative research on historical national accounts, The Economic History Review, 67 (3): 627–651, 2014. Online. Available HTTP: <> (accessed December 30, 2014) GDP calculated in 1990 US dollars.Google Scholar

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© Ko Unoki 2016

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  • Ko Unoki

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