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This article employs the notion of ‘sociotechnical imaginaries’ from the discipline of science and technology studies (STS) in order to consider the role that constructions of Japan play within UK policy discourse on science, technology, and innovation. The analysis is parsed in relation to the three dominant constructions that emerged from within the discourse under study: Japan as collaborator, as comparator, and as competitor. The mentioning of Japan within policy texts seems often aimed at evoking an imaginary of an economically successful and technoscientifically inventive nation, geared up for investment and innovation. Japan was present in the texts analysed as a country that was simultaneously the same and other to the UK: similar enough for meaningful comparisons to be made, while sufficiently different to motivate the UK to ‘do better’ and to galvanise symbolic and material resource to become ‘more like’ Japan. Thus, a sociotechnical imaginary emerged that was at once familiar to and yet also distinct and from that of the UK. Sociotechnical imaginaries of other/Other nations can govern through enabling and shaping political and policy conversations, which can ultimately inflect and indeed help to determine different forms of legal and regulatory tools, processes, and discourses.
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31/01/19 → 30/06/21