At the May 2013 Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, five Asian states, namely China, Japan, India, Singapore and South Korea, were accepted to become new Permanent Observers at the Arctic Council. Nonetheless, little attention has been paid to the Asian states and their interest in the Arctic. Most discussions have focused on China and the assessment of China’s interest in the Arctic is divided. This paper attempts to fill this gap by presenting and comparing the various components of the Arctic policies of China and Japan. Referring to Putnam’s model of the “two-level game” and Young’s categorization of Arctic stakeholders’ interests, data from policy documents and interviews with relevant stakeholders were analysed. This analysis shows the Chinese and Japanese governments are in the gradual process of consolidating their Arctic policies, but both China and Japan see the Arctic less as a strategically crucial point from the traditional security perspective, but more from the viewpoint of economic security and development. In addition, their perspectives manifest themselves slightly differently from one another. China is willing to invest more in the Arctic. Japan is willing to build on the achievements it has made so far, maintaining its low-profile position as a non-Arctic or non-coastal state, while at the same time emphasising Japan’s past contribution to Arctic research.
Polar Journal, 2014, Vol 4, Issue 1, p. 105-126
China; Japan; Arctic policy; economic security; Greenland; Faculty of Social Sciences