Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

The Origins of Multilateralism in the Japanese Intellectual Tradition


The aim of this consultation is to identify the roots of Japan’s perception of
multilateralism through the work of two pre-war Japanese scholars –
Chomin Nakae and Sakuzo Yoshino. The article assumes that intellectual
and cultural traditions influence modern perceptions of basic political
concepts. Japan is a country which has long been marked as isolationist and
militarist, and whose political thinking has been disregarded by the
discipline of international relations. However, on the example of Nakae and
Yoshino’s thought, we can observe that the idea of international
cooperation had been researched well before the end of the 19th century.
However, Japanese scholars projected their cultural and sociopolitical
background into their perception of multilateralism. Nakae depicted a
vision of a functional long term cooperation uniting Western and Confucian
thought; meanwhile, Yoshino saw multilateralism as a way towards the
emancipation of the enlightened Japanese man.


Japan, multilateralism, Nakae, Yoshino, Asia

PDF Consultation (Czech)

Author Biography

Michal Kolmaš

Michal Kolmaš, born in 1985, he is a lecturer at the Department of Asian Studies and
International Relations of Metropolitan University Prague and also at the
Department of International Relations, Charles University. He focuses on
current IR theory, culture, identity and discourse in foreign policy and on
the society and politics in Japan, where he spent two years as a researcher.
He authored one book (Karolinum, 2016), co-authored two more, and
authored several peer-reviewed articles (in Perspectives, China Report, etc.)
and book chapters.