Over the past decade, Japan’s Arctic engagement has developed at a faster and more integrated pace than ever before, especially in the political field. In 2015, Japan’s inaugural Arctic Policy came to fruition and a year later the Arctic trilateral dialogue with China and South Korea was established, further carving out how Japan perceives challenges and opportunities in the polar and East Asian regions unfolding. While Japan acknowledges its status as a non-Arctic state, it still manifests interest and involvement in the security and safety of the High North.
This paper asks what Arctic security means to Japan and how Japan handles the Arctic security dimension in its foreign policy. Specifically, it analyzesthepolitical, scientific and economic features of Japan’s latest statements and activities stemming from Japan’s Third Basic Plan Ocean Policy (2018), official Arctic Policy (2015), the Arctic trilateral dialogue with China and South Korea, and a set of expert interviews. Through a discourse and practice analysis, it unpacks how security, on traditional and non-traditional and on national and international levels factors in and demonstrates the synergy between Arctic security issues and broader, prioritized foreign policy issues, such as freedom of the seas, peaceful coexistence and environmental sustainability.