As the nation's "chief diplomat", the Japanese prime minister has an unenviable job, for it is the prime minister who is the key link between often contradictory domestic and international political environments. At the domestic level, the prime minister may have to control unruly factions, avoid scandals, and display a charismatic style for the public. But at the same time, the prime minister must have a strong grasp of international affairs and be able to develop a rapport with other political leaders. In brief, while a creature of domestic politics, the prime minister is a central actor in the way Japan conducts its diplomacy.
In my talk, I analyse three Japanese prime ministers (Ōhira Masayoshi, Suzuki Zenkō and Nakasone Yasuhiro) and their political environments surrounding G7 summits, where the challenge to deal with simultaneous demands of international and domestic politics is especially big. In doing so, I draw on various theories of (political) leadership, in particular, the interactional concept of political leadership. I suggest that, despite the conventional "one-dimensional" idea of the Japanese prime minister, it is misleading to squeeze these leaders into this conventional paradigm. Instead, these leaders demonstrated distinctive leadership styles in the face of at times contradictory domestic, international and summitry environments.
David Envall recently submitted his dissertation for an MA in International Relations at Hitotsubashi University and is in the process of completing his PhD in Political Science at the University of Melbourne, Australia.