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  1. 2014.11.05 [일본-노트] Japan, the Active State?: Security Policy after 9/11 (David Arase)

[일본-노트] Japan, the Active State?: Security Policy after 9/11 (David Arase)

[연구] Research 2014. 11. 5. 10:57

Japan, the Active State?: Security Policy after 9/11 (David Arase)
Asian Survey, Vol. 47, No. 4 (July/August 2007), pp. 560-583.

Summary & Note (Oct. 29, 2014) – Bee Yun Jo



David Arase begins the article with a quote from Ishihara Shintaro, who in 2005 projected that the increasing regional tensions and uncertainties can stimulate Japan to emerge from its “passivity” and become “a strong nation,” as well as foreseeing the possibility of Japan’s more upfront confrontation with China. As Arase states, the central irony or interesting puzzle here is that while Ishihara’s view represents the perspectives of those always held by the “extremes,” the recent developments in Japan’s security policy seem indeed to be assimilating towards the extremes. Overall, Arase’s conclusion is that this is not because Ishihara’s view has “mellowed but because Japan has changed.”


Main Question and Argument

Q1.      Why and how has Japan changed? (Japan’s increasing activism)

n  Mix of the internal and external factors that encouraged Japan to change = “a new alignment of factors at the levels of international structure, domestic institutions, and national identity”:

Three major factors in consideration

-     (External) Security environments

-     (Internal) Domestic institutional environments

-     (External-Internal) National identity (9/11)


Q2.           How is Japan’s change influencing its security policy now?  

n  Expanding the U.S.-Japan alliance (Japan as an active ally)

n  But also Japan’s increasing autonomy and assertiveness in the regional security policy.



Q1.     Why and how has Japan changed? (Japan’s increasing activism)


1.       “Resistant Phase” (1951-1989): “modest, defensively configured military”

Fundamental Factors:

1)       (External) International structure:

-        U.S. Occupation and the resulting postwar Constitution (demilitarization) => “free ride”

-        U.S. did not need Japan to balance the Soviet Union

2)       (Internal) Institutional:

-        Befitting the “Yoshida Doctrine” (focus on the recovery)

3)       (External-internal) National identity:

-        Trauma of atomic bombing and defeat (=> Article 9)

ð  Configuration of structural, institutional and normative factors = obstruction on Japan’s rearmament and U.S. policy toward Japan (“one-sided burden” to U.S. and Japan’s “free-ride”)


Yet “Passive Resistance”

During this phase, the right wing view lacked support, yet remained where U.S. pressure factor played an important role (low-profile continuity in the efforts for Japan’s activism) – Hatoyama Ichiro => Kishi Nobusuke => Nakasone Yasuhiro => Abe Shinzo

-        Korean War => Self Defense Force (SDF) in 1954, yet senshu boei (exclusive defense) – the Basic Policy for National Defense

-        Vietnam War => “autonomous defense (jishu boei)” (Prime Minister Sato) => 1976 National Defense Program Outline (NDPO) – a compromise between jishu and senshu boei.

-        U.S.-Japan 1980s trade friction => Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and violation of the 1% GDP defense ceiling in 1987

ð  Overall, 1980s ended with “one-sided” burden on U.S., while Japan maintained its “passive resistance”


2.       “Reluctant Phase” (1989-2001): Reactive to U.S.’s “prod” for Japan’s “extra-territorial role”

Fundamental Factors:

1)      (External) International structure:

-        The post-Cold War international structure => Fall in the U.S.’s strategic interest in Japan

-        Japan’s threat of abandonment: dependence on U.S. (oil, security)

-        Japan’s checkbook diplomacy no longer suffices (exemplified by the U.S. reaction during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War)

-        1993 North Korea’s test of Nodong missile, withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT)

2)      => (Internal) Institutional changes

-        International Peace Cooperation Law (1992), allowing SDF to join the PKO activities

-        1995 NDPO, authorizing the SDF to address “situations in the areas around Japan that have a direct effect on Japan’s security”

3)      => (External-internal) National identity:

-        “normative barrier” against overseas dispatch of SDF broken


Additional Internal Factors: Domestic Reforms since the 1990s

1)      The electoral reform in 1994 (SNTV + MMD -> SMD + PR): Weakened Factionalism

2)      Change in policy process – Administrative reform and centralization of power in the cabinet (1999 “Law to Amend the Cabinet Law” and “Law to Establish the Cabinet Office”)


ð  bureaucratic dominated => Prime minister, policy-oriented leadership

ð  A new alignment of structural (most important), institutional and normative factors = Japan’s “reluctant” move towards a more active security policy; “a redefined alliance”



Q2.     How is Japan’s change influencing its security policy now? 


3.       Japan as Active State? (2001-2006)

Fundamental Factors

1)      (External) 9/11 => SDF dispatch to Afghanistan and Iraq

-        (Koizumi) Anti Terrorism Special Measures Law in 2001 (Afghanistan)

-        Special Measures Law on Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in 2003 (Iraq)

2)      (Internal) Generational change (Abe)

-        Rejection of the Yoshida doctrine (i.e. U.S.-Japan alliance, minimal security role, low profile, economy first)

-        Centralization of power under PM

-        Security and defense oriented Cabinet (security-oriented experts in the Cabinet, commission of defense experts, 2005 National Defense Program Guideline, the five year Mid-Term Defense Plan)

3)      National Identity: “reviving nationalist sentiment”

ð  The difference from previous years is that “key international, institutional, and normative factors that had inhibited a growing international security role for Japan… are today aligning in a mutually reinforcing way to facilitate a positive, forward-leaning toward security.”


Other Regional Factors that Convey Japan’s Increased Assertiveness
(autonomy from U.S.-Japan alliance)

1)      North Korea: “uncharacteristic activism” and “uncompromising line”

-        The launch of a Taepodong II missile on July 5, 2006 => “uncharacteristic activism” calling for a U.N. Security Council meeting (=> U.N. Security Council Resolution 1695)

-        Abduction issue => Abe’s “uncompromising line”

-        Participation in U.S.’s Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)

2)      South Korea: Yasukuni Shrine visits and territorial issues

3)      China: arms-race, worsening public poll, territorial issues

4)      U.S.-Japan Alliance Transformation (Active SDF)

-        Inclusion of Taiwan strait issue as U.S.-Japan’s “common strategic objectives” in 2005

-        Towards a global scope bilateral cooperation (WMD, terrorism, energy)

-        New alliance that aims a close partnership between the SDF and U.S. (“U.S.-Japan Alliance: Transformation and Realignment for the Future” in 2005; “The United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation” in 2006).


To recap: By analyzing how the configuration of the structural (external), institutional (internal), and normative factors shifted in Japan, Arase provides a comprehensive overview on why and how Japan’s security posture transformed towards an increasingly active approach. In regards to the U.S.-Japan alliance, Arase provides the update on Japan’s regional policy and the impact of 9/11, and conveys that there are two sides to Japan’s increasing activism: 1) “the long-standing U.S. desire for a more active Japanese ally is being fulfilled”; while 2) the increased activism translates into Japan’s independent regional security policy (e.g. North Korean abduction issue, territorial and maritime disputes, and the normalization process with North Korea and Russia).


Conclusion & Comments

Arase’s Conclusion

Overall, based on the findings on how Japan’s activism transcends into Japan’s willingness to play the role of an active security ally to the U.S. (U.S.-Japan alliance strengthening) and an independent and assertive role in the region, Arase concludes with a caution that Japan’s remilitarization in the current environment – where Japan is becoming ever more “receptive” to U.S. pressure; Japan and the neighboring countries are interacting without a multilateral security regime or other collective framework to dissuade conflict – Japan’s new security role and assertiveness “may not turn out” as well as Ishihara, or the U.S. may have imagined.



*Comprehensive: Overview of both the domestic&international factors, mutually reinforcing.

*Going back to the debate on whether Japan is a reactive state, Arase’s paper provides a significant insight: Unlike the perspective that Japan’s post-war security policy is an example of Japan as a reactive state, responding to the U.S.’s gaiatsu, Arase’s paper implies that while the U.S.-led international structure or U.S.’s pressures served as important independent variable in determining Japan’s security policy, “reactive” may be a term too far-fetched or simplifying, for Japan has always maintained resistance (“passive resistance”) and strategically used U.S.’s pressure for Japan to “free-ride” and gradual remilitarization (right wing agenda). With 9/11 and previous domestic reforms, the 2000s marks the height of Japan’s relative activism which emerged from a continuity in the past.

*Implications on today: While published in 2007, Arase’s cautious remark on how Japan’s activism may endanger the complexity of the region still holds in today’s environment. Food for thought: U.S.’s pivot to Asia policy and Japan’s normal country agenda – As Arase comments, while U.S. may have wanted Japan’s increase in the security role in the region, current Abe’s agenda and Japan’s increasing autonomy in its regional policy may not be befitting to U.S.’s strategic interest.

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