Adoption of a New Project:
Comparative Research on Major Regional Powers in Eurasia
A new project, "Comparative Research on Major Regional Powers in Eurasia," was adopted by the Ministry of Education and Science as a five-year grant-in-aid for scientific research on innovative areas. Its project leader is TABATA Shinichiro of the SRC. This project intends to make a comprehensive and systematic comparison of major regional powers in Eurasia, including Russia, China and India, and analyze the sustainability of these countries as regional powers. In comparative analysis, the historical background of these powers as empires will be fully taken into account. This will aim to identify pressing issues in contemporary Eurasia and beyond, such as security, ethnic conflicts, religious confrontations, environmental problems and poverty, by paying special attention to the role of these regional powers in the world order. This project includes six research groups:
Russia, China and India and other powerful Eurasian countries, major subjects of this study, are challengers to the uni-polar order of the United States and an EU-dominated international order in the current global situation. In simple terms, these major regional powers have fixed economic and military power, and influence neighboring countries, and are characterized by their political independence, late growth and semi-peripheral status. These nations have commonalities such as placing a set distance on the norm, freedom, democracy and prevention of nuclear proliferation in international society based on the logic of strength.
The prediction that the 21st century would be a uni-polar hegemony of the United States after the end of the Cold War has not been realized. Meanwhile, BRICs have grown with their economy, while the political clout and military presence of these nations has increased. However, the Bush Administration's unilateralism and interventionism have severely damaged the leadership of the United States in international politics. While the world rests under the power of the United States, regional powers are a Gulliver’s oligopoly with tremendous say. Will this structure be retained? Or, will the drop in high oil prices and the next U.S. administration working harder to create international agreement bring the world closer to a uni-polar world again?
To answer this question, it is important to understand that the regional power of Russia, China, India and others is not merely a political economic phenomenon. Culturally, the existence of these nations is exemplified by the position of their respective civilizations in the modern age rather than their late growth, and from this their adaptability from past cultural imperialism to the modern age can be understood. More specifically, regional powers have multifaceted phenomena related to culture, religion, ideology, imperial traditions, spatial representation and environmental problems, requiring tremendous focus on the humanities and social sciences. Another phenomenon of the regional powers above is the inability to measure them using a post Cold War time span, it requires fundamental research back to at least the 17th century and current analysis based on this.
Regional powers also face similar issues and problems such as the heritage of empire, relations with the United States, obtaining stable supplies of energy, soft power, formation of regional international organizations and environmental damage demonstrating commonality and contrast in dealing with them, thus a comparison of regional powers may be beneficial. A comparison is not only beneficial in terms of understanding the above countries, but also it is expected to impart knowledge on developing rich humanities and social sciences based on their political importance and academic value.
CORE PURPOSE OF STUDY
1) We will learn under what conditions countries (Russia, China and India ) in this study would be able to develop and entrench themselves as regional powers, and the causes of instability that hinder this from happening from the perspective of the humanities and social sciences fields. This is made possible for the first time by comprehensively and systematically comparing regional powers. A comparison based on the commonalities where respective regional powers have historically formed empires and civilizations is particularly significant.
2) We understand the world, establish a new viewpoint and analyze various problems in the modern world from this viewpoint by inserting an intermediary layer (i.e., regional powers) between a super power and ordinary states. This is a viewpoint that differs from a uni-polar superpower or a global homogenization where comprehensive and interdisciplinary understanding is tested on critical problems in the modern world such as security, ethnic conflicts, religious strife, environment, disparities and poverty from this new viewpoint.
CONTENTS OF STUDY
Planned Researches based on international relations, domestic politics, economy, society, history and culture are created with researchers on Russia, China and India placed into respective Planned Research Groups. This leads to the first regional comparison performed at a systematic and deep level. A comprehensive, systematic comparison in this way leads to deep studies on each regional study, and rapidly deepens understanding of the respective regional powers.
Ethnic conflicts, religious strife, disparities, poverty and other interdisciplinary studies are performed as joint research between multiple Planned Research Groups. In this way such a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach as that characteristic of the regional study can be improved.
Comprehensive research on Russia (Slavic Eurasia), China, India (South Asia) and other individual regions has been performed by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Areas in the 1990s, with dramatic developments in regional studies on these regions in Japan, and many noted internationally. A network for national joint research on these individual regions has also been created. This study bundles individual regional studies that have deepened separately, uses the advantages of other regional studies including study methods so that a further deepening of respective regional studies is expected. There is also awareness of standardization, databases for data to compare these regions; i.e. to build a foundation for comparison.
New perspectives may be raised on the international order and global system through this study based on the study of Eurasian regional powers here and with dissent by these countries vis-à-vis the international order to being led by a superpower. Historically, these countries, these regional powers, have been established out of the fall or reorganization of empires. This study aims to create a foundation for academic debate about the inter-regional disputes and ethnic and religious conflicts that currently form one of the world’s most pressing issues. Taking into account the Eurasian regional powers’ relative world standing in terms of economy, population and military might, and considering the possibility for expansion of that relative weight in the near future as espoused by the BRICs theory, this study will offer a fresh viewpoint for the resolution of pressing global issues such as energy security, the environment, social disparity and poverty.
Also, given that these countries also act as a dissenting voice against the US-led global spread of uniform and homogenous politics, economics, societies and cultures (i.e., they serve to question democracy and market economics), this study will provide ample material for a re-examination of these developments. Culturally, too, the regional powers have their own established spheres of civilization. Thus, it is hoped that studying the conflict between those entities and the forces of globalization will provide a fresh perspective in understanding modern culture.
In light of which, this study aims to take an academic look at the position that the aforementioned regional powers hold in Eurasia and the world, what new models they can offer the world, and what kind of world order will be formed in future.