Diplomatic Protest and Patriotism: The Effect of Foreign Voices on Japanese Public Opinion

Author Name KAGOTANI Koji (Osaka University of Economics) / ONO Yoshikuni (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. May 2020 20-E-046
Research Project Research on Political Behavior and Decision Making: Searching for evidence-based solutions to political challenges in the economy and industry
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The military expansion of a country, even for defensive purposes, often invites diplomatic protests from neighboring countries. In this study, we look into how diplomatic protests shape public opinion and foreign policy preferences. We contend that diplomatic protests which take the form of costless threats are sufficient to cause patriotism and hawkish policy preferences within the target country. This has a potential to lead to hostile foreign policy behavior and international conflicts as well. Repeated disputes among international rivals and criticisms from quasi-allies may encourage the public to recognize differences between the two societies, thereby enhancing the patriotic effect. The results of our survey experiment show that diplomatic protests give rise to patriotism only within rivalries. States tend to lodge diplomatic protests against security policies from their own perspectives, consequently inducing patriotism and hawkish reactions in their target countries. We call this phenomenon "the dilemma of diplomatic protests." Moreover, diplomatic protests can cause a "spiral of distrust." This paper focuses on the case of Japan, highlighting the processes behind the rising tensions among the countries in East Asia.