The fields called international politics and international relations are often confused. However, in fact there is a subtle difference between the two. Personally, what is the difference between two international politics and international relations? I believe that the roots of two studies are different, but this time I will explain the difference between international politics and international relations.

1. What is International Politics?

International political science is the study that analyzes the diplomatic problems that occur between nations, and the problems of the international community as a whole from a political point of view. International political science is also a study to analyze the causes, processes, and results of war because most of the political problems that occur between countries have risks that lead to war and conflict.

In international politics, two main approaches are taken when conducting analysis. One is a theoretical approach, and the other is a historical approach. Let’s check each approach.

1-1. Theoretical approach

The theoretical approach defines rules that will govern international politics and analyzes how the state behaves along those rules. It applies political theories such as so-called realism and liberalism.

Recently, game theory has emerged in the theory of international politics, and mathematical thinking has been introduced in international political theory.

1-2. Historical approach

The historical approach analyzes the relationship between international politics and nations inductively from the history of diplomacy and war. International politics that emphasizes a historical approach is often referred to as international political history, diplomatic history.

Because history and academic scope suffer, it is essential to thoroughly analyze the primary materials in international political history and diplomatic history in order to differentiate.

2. What is International Relations?

International relations is a discipline that analyzes political and economic issues, sociology, psychology, history, and all sorts of humanities and social sciences to analyze problems that occur between nations. The field of international relations in Japan began to be established after the end of the Pacific war. The University of Tokyo became the founder of establishing international relations, and started as an interdisciplinary study.

There are a wide range of issues dealt with by international relations. War and conflict issues, as well as economic disparities and security, gender issues, and regional studies are endless. It can be said that it is the study that turns vector in various directions.

3. Why is international politics and international relations easy to be confused?


The reason why international political science and international relations are easily confused is that there are overlapping places in both fields. Within the framework of international relations, those who take a political approach suffer from those dealing with international politics. There is no difference in the analysis method. To put it differently, international political science is from a political point of view, and international relations is analyzed while referring to non-political points of view.

However, what we are doing is similar from the outside, so it seems to be the cause of confusion between international politics and international relations.

4. Do you admit international relations as a discipline?

Some international political scholars do not recognize international relations as a discipline. It just criticizes that the original theory as “international relations theory” does not exist only by borrowing theory and knowledge from other studies. From the point of view of scholars who deal with international relations, “international relations is interdisciplinary, so there is no need to have a single theory.” The reason why the University of Tokyo was established not as an international relations “studies” but as “international relations” theory is considered to be because of this recognition.

5. Summary

International politics and international relations are not strictly the same field. However, it is also a fact that there are overlapping places, which is why many people confuse the two.

In the future, if you have an opportunity to get in touch with international politics and international relations, I would like you to consider the two differences carefully.


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