Edited by Robert C. Kloosterman, Virginie Mamadouh and Pieter Terhorst
Chapter 30: Maritime trade and geopolitics: the Indian Ocean as Japan’s sea lane
This chapter explores the historical relationship between globalization, maritime trade and geopolitics. As maritime trade has developed globally through the expansion of capitalism (and colonialism) from Western Europe, its importance for the state economy has prompted foreign and security policies that ensures the security of sea lanes to sustain international trade. Focuses are placed on the case of Japan which recognizes the Indian Ocean as its ‘vital’ sea lane or sea line of communication for the state economy. The textual analysis of annual white report titled Defense of Japan (Bouei-hakusho ____) reveals how geopolitical codes regarding the Indian Ocean have remained unchanged and have repeatedly been employed to justify Japan’s postwar maritime geopolitics with – and against – neighboring states. It also becomes clear from the analysis that behind Japan’s geopolitical self-image, there has been an increasing fear of being disconnected to the external world to which Japan feels increasingly connected. Just as deterministic classical geopolitics, so Japan’s maritime geopolitics has been founded on the imagination of an inescapable geographical destiny.
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