Friday, June 01, 2007

Securing Japan

richard j. samuels
Securing Japan: The Current Discourse(pdf

As we have seen, there is nothing new under the (rising) sun vis-à-vis the
contemporary Japanese debate over grand strategy. Much like their predecessors
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Japanese security planners
now discuss andmake choices about the balance between economic and military
instruments, between hard and soft power, among alliance partners, and
for or against construction of multilateral security regimes. And like their
predecessors, they get lots of advice from across a growing spectrum of
political groups. What is striking—and what ought to be reassuring to
the United States and to Japan’s neighbors—is that there is no debate over
fundamental values of democracy and freedom. Indeed, all agree that Japan
can champion both to its national advantage, and in particular vis-à-vis
It remains to be seen how this discourse will evolve. Perhaps the revisionists
who came to power in the early 2000s will consolidate their preferences
as national policy and continue to trim away until nothing is left of the
Yoshida consensus. But they have already demonstrated their commitment
to the pacifist ideals of the 1947 constitution, and they do not advocate an
autonomous defense buildup, so it is not likely that the Yoshida consensus
will be displaced entirely. Some advocates of a normal nation seek greater
autonomy, just as autonomists, pacifists, and some middle-power internationalists
are not yet ready to sever all ties to the United States. While critical
of the alliance with the United States and eager to achieve greater sovereignty,
few advocate a complete break.
Likewise, no significant party in the Japanese security discourse refuses
to accept the legitimacy of the SDF. All agree, moreover, that China, with
all its great power ambitions, needs to be integrated peacefully and that a
nondemocratic China is inimical to Japanese interests. Thus, it seems at
least plausible that the “middle power” road—amended to allow a fuller
hedge against Chinese power and American decline—will be an attractive
successor to the Yoshida Doctrine. This new consensus is likely to resemble
Goldilocks’s preferences: Japan’s relationships with the United States and
China will be neither too hot nor too cold, and its posture in the region will
be neither too big nor too small.

Of course the actual opinions he cites in the paper are more nuanced than are presented by him. But I think this is a good survey on how Japanese thinkers consider Japan's strategy.

As for the discussion of nuclear Japan, I find this site (Japanese) useful. TThe author argues it is not necessary for Japan to have nuclear weapons.

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