East Asian countries face a number of international environmental problems, both of regional and global origin. Despite a growing consensus that environmental degradation is one of the most challenging soft security issues, East Asia is slow in developing comprehensive regional environmental regimes. At the same time, not all of the region’s countries are active supporters of initiatives for tackling global environmental problems. Such a situation requires a better understanding of how East Asian countries treat environmental issues from the national security perspective and what calculations governments make when international cooperation is a necessary component in solving environmental problems.
This research looks at the role of national self-interest factors in advancing environmental cooperation among East Asian countries. The research seeks to answer two main questions. First, what are the trends in the securitization of environmental challenges in China, Korea, and Japan? Second, in what ways are these environmental issues politicized in each country and why do some issues receive more support than others? The theoretical basis of the research is founded on the studies by Sprinz and Vaahtoranta (1994, 2002) that discuss the main factors in international environmental policy formulation. My research not only tests the assumptions made by the aforementioned authors but also contributes to the on-going discussion about the most important independent variables by providing new data from case studies in East Asia.