Rethinking Japanese Public Opinion and Security: From Pacifism to Realism?

By Paul Midford | Go to book overview

6
International Peacekeeping and
the U.S. Alliance in the 1990s

The distinctive worldview of the Japanese public (distinctive at least from an American perspective) regarding the utility of military force and the global role of the United States continued to influence and channel Japanese pol— icy in the aftermath of the Gulf War. The LDP made renewed attempts to send the SDF overseas following Tokyo’s failure to send its military to Saudi Arabia for noncombat rear—area logistical support operations.

This first half of this chapter is thus a case study focusing on the inter— action between the LDP government and public opinion following the dispatch of MSDF minesweepers to the Persian Gulf at the end of the Gulf War and attempts to enact a law allowing SDF overseas dispatches for par— ticipation in U.N. peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations. This case study also includes Japan’s early overseas dispatches of the SDF to U.N. peacekeeping missions in Cambodia, Mozambique, and the Golan Heights. The rest of the chapter focuses on the revised U.S.—Japan defense guidelines of 1997, which called for the SDF to provide rear—area logistical support for U.S. military operations in regional conflicts affecting Japan, and on the impact of the 1998 “Taepodong shock” on Japanese public opinion. In the process this chapter shows the influence of public opinion, especially its attitudinal defensive realism.


Toward a Peacekeeping Law

On November 9, 1990, as the war clouds of Desert Storm were gather— ing in the Middle East, the Kaifu cabinet formally withdrew the UNPCC bill, bowing to consistent and overwhelming public opposition to dispatch— ing the SDF overseas. However, the LDP, led by Party Secretary General Ozawa Ichirō, a leading party hawk and one of the prime movers behind the UNPCC bill, obtained a compromise agreement with the centrist Kōmei and Democratic Socialist Parties committing these parties to support a new bill on Japanese participation in U.N. peacekeeping. Under the “three—party agreement,” a new peacekeeping organization was to be set up without any links to, or participation by, SDF personnel.1 However, the imminent recess

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