Heritage and the Politics of Culture
Primarily in response to North Korea, in recent decades Japan’s state authorities have consistently projected the concept that there are a growing number of risks in its maritime surrounds. As the physical barrier separating Japan’s northern coastline from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Sea of Japan plays a vital role in mediating these security risks.
While Japanese political rhetoric and media representation has portrayed an increasingly diverse and grave set of risks emanating from across the Sea of Japan, the Japanese government has actually expanded both its independent and alliance-based power projection into this body of water. The result is decoupling of political rhetoric and maritime security policy from the shifting regional balance of power and the relative military capabilities possessed by the two states involved.
In this case study, we can see how the rhetorical treatment of a shared body of water allows for certain military and political developments, while creating the impression of blocking off future possibilities. In this way, the sea is not only a barrier, but also a facilitator, but to what political end?