The Third World in Japanese Foreign Policy

  • William Nester


The continued and growing access of Japanese firms to the markets and resources of the Third World has been a vital aspect of Japan’s rise to economic prominence. In 1986, 38 per cent of Japan’s total trade and 46 per cent of its accumulated foreign investments (1958–86) was with the Third World.1 For the most part this access has had minimal costs and maximum benefits. Japan’s immensely successful foreign policy was geared toward maintaining a low political profile while concentrating on maximising its overseas economic penetration. Tokyo managed to avoid getting entangled in any significant political issues, and even when it was forced to take a stand, as in the Middle East in 1973, succeeded in minimising its difficulties. By tying most foreign aid to the purchase of Japanese goods and services, Tokyo gave its producers a tremendous export subsidy which enabled them to capture markets from their foreign competitors while ‘fulfilling’ Japan’s obligations as an OECD member. The chief purpose of its intermediary role in various regional conflicts was to solidify and justify its continued economic links with both sides, rather than conflict resolution.


Foreign Policy Middle East Bilateral Trade Japanese Firm Asian Development Bank 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Millennium Publishing Group 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Nester

There are no affiliations available

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