Shin Kawashima

Professor of international relations, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, University of Tokyo

Dr Shin Kawashima is professor of international relations at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, University of Tokyo. He was educated at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (B.A.1992) and the University of Tokyo (Oriental history, M.A., 1992 and Ph.D, 2000). He taught at Hokkaido University's Department of Politics, Faculty of Law from 1998 to 2006 before moving to the University of Tokyo in 2006. Some of his other roles include senior researcher of Nakasone Peace Institute; senior fellow of National Security Agency; advisory member of the Committee for the Promotion of the Declassification of Diplomatic Records, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; member of The Advisory Panel on Communications Concerning Territorial Integrity, Office of Policy Planning and Coordination on Territory and Sovereignty; and editor of He has studied Chinese/Taiwanese diplomatic history based on Chinese diplomatic archives and recently started a study on contemporary international relations in East Asia. His first book, Formation of Chinese Modern Diplomacy (2004), was awarded the Suntory Academic Prize in 2004. Some of the other books he has written or co-authored include China in the 21st Century (2016), Frontier of China (2017), and Japan-China Relations in the Modern Era (2017).

Japanese foreign minister Hayashi Yoshimasa (second from right, in grey suit) walks with G7 countries foreign ministers during their summit in Weissenhaeuser Strand, Germany, 12 May 2022. (Marcus Brandt/Pool via Reuters)

It's hard to be neighbours: When will Japan advance its diplomacy with China and South Korea?

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima notes that Japan has been active on the international front, engaging the West as well as the Southeast Asian nations. However, it seems that with an eye to public sentiment, it is maintaining a cautious approach towards China and South Korea. When will it be opportune for Japan to advance to the next stage of foreign policy engagement?
Pedestrians walk past a screen displaying Russian President Vladimir Putin during a news broadcast about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in the Akihabara district of Tokyo on 4 May 2022. (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP)

Japanese academic: Japan views China and Russia as one entity because of Russia-Ukraine war

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has been reiterating lately that “unilateral changes to the status quo by force are absolutely unacceptable". Japanese academic Shin Kawashima points out that this stems from Japanese fears that if the global order is not maintained, Japan will face a security crisis, particularly in the East China Sea. Furthermore, in dealing with this perceived threat from China, Japan has come to view China and Russia as one entity. But is this a wise long-term policy?
JGSDF and JMSDF during TS21 (TalismanSabre) in Australia. (Japan Ministry of Defence)

Tacking towards Australia: Japan's move to diversify its security and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

Amid Chinese criticism of the recent Quad Foreign Ministers' Meeting as an act of "outdated Cold War mentality", Japan is drawing closer to Australia in a bid to have greater flexibility as it builds up a range of security and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Nonetheless, it believes that dialogue with China is necessary to truly improve the regional situation, says Japanese academic Shin Kawashima.
Staff members work near the emblem for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics displayed at the Shanghai Sports Museum in Shanghai, China, 8 December 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Why Japan did not impose a 'diplomatic boycott' of the Beijing Winter Olympics

Last month, Japan announced that no ministers would be attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, but did not term it a "diplomatic boycott". Nonetheless, Japan has made it clear that it believes in universal values like human rights and the rule of law. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima notes that Japan has taken an independent decision that shows its stand while not explicitly straining Japan-China relations.
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to the media at his office in Tokyo on 19 November 2021. (Jiji Press/AFP) / Japan OUT

Will the new Kishida administration be more friendly towards China?

As the Kishida administration takes shape with adjustments in various appointments, one key change is Toshimitsu Motegi shifting from foreign minister to become LDP Secretary-General, and Yoshimasa Hayashi taking over as foreign minister. In particular, Hayashi is a self-professed "pro-Chinese", and will probably play a significant role in Japan's policies toward China. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima looks at how Japan-China relations might develop.
People walk in a street at night in Tokyo on 3 November 2021. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

It's complicated: Chinese and Japanese public sentiments towards each other

A Japan-China public opinion poll shows that negative impressions of Japan have risen among the Chinese, while there was little change in sentiment among the Japanese towards China. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima offers some reasons for the increased negativity in China, including the lack of interaction among the people and leaders of both countries, as well as issues of nationalism and skewed domestic propaganda, especially in China.
Japan's new prime minister Fumio Kishida delivers his first policy speech at parliament in Tokyo, Japan, 8 October 2021. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

No concrete vision for future Japan-China relations despite telephone talks between Xi Jinping and Fumio Kishida

University of Tokyo's Shin Kawashima notes the significance of the phone conversation between Japan's newly installed Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping. He says that while there are solid reasons why China wants to maintain a good relationship with Japan, many aspects of future Japan-China relations remain unclear. This is especially interesting to watch as the Chinese Communist Party's 20th Party Congress will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the normalisation of relations between the two countries next year.
Japan's newly elected Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Fumio Kishida and his predecessor Yoshihide Suga stand on stage following the LDP leadership vote in Tokyo, Japan, 29 September 2021. (Kyodo/via Reuters)

Will the new Japanese PM Kishida do better than his predecessor Suga in foreign relations?

New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has just formed his Cabinet, and it remains to be seen whether and how relations with China will be affected. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima gives an analysis.
(From left) Taro Kono, Fumio Kishida, Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda hold papers with their mottos before a debate ahead of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s presidential election at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Japan, on 18 September 2021. (Eugene Hoshiko/Bloomberg)

How will the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election affect Japan's China policy?

With Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stepping down, whoever wins the Liberal Democratic Party leadership race is practically assured of becoming the next prime minister. But with four experienced politicians on the cards, including two women, who will it be? And how will the choice of the next prime minister affect Japan's policy towards China? Japanese academic Shin Kawashima examines the possibilities.