Normalizing Japan: Politics, Identity, and the Evolution of Security Practice

Normalizing Japan: Politics, Identity, and the Evolution of Security Practice

Normalizing Japan: Politics, Identity, and the Evolution of Security Practice

Normalizing Japan: Politics, Identity, and the Evolution of Security Practice

Synopsis

Normalizing Japan seeks to answer the question of what future direction Japan's military policies are likely to take, by considering how policy has evolved since World War II, and what factors shaped this evolution. It argues that Japanese security policy has not changed as much in recent years as many believe, and that future change also will be highly constrained by Japan's long-standing "security identity," the central principle guiding Japanese policy over the past half-century. Oros' analysis is based on detailed exploration of three cases of policy evolution- restrictions on arms exports, the military use of outer space, and cooperation with the United States on missile defense- which shed light on other cases of policy change, such as Japan's deployment of its military to Iraq and elsewhere and its recent creation of a Ministry of Defense. More broadly, the book refines how "ideational" factors interact with domestic politics and international changes to create policy change.

Excerpt

My first contact with Japan was in Los Angeles at the height of Japan’s economic boom (later seen as “bubble”). It was an outwardly self-confident Japan I experienced, often telling America how it needed to reform its inefficient and profligate ways. As a young student anxious about my own future, I was drawn to learn more. in Japan, however, I learned and read that under this confident exterior was a nation deeply questioning what was at its essence, and what it should seek to project to others. Bookstores in the 1980s were full of lengthy pseudo-academic treatises on what it meant to be Japanese—the so-called nihonjinron (treatises on Japaneseness). Any student of Japanese trade policy at the time would see the effect of this self-conceived unique identity on policy. meti (then MITI) trade ministers were famous for their assertions that foreign skis had to be tested on unique Japanese snow, that Japanese stomachs digested foreign beef differently, and that “not a single grain” of foreign rice could be allowed to pollute Japanese cuisine.

Times have changed. Japan’s national self-confidence was shattered by the collapse of the “bubble economy,” fueling a new, yet related, literature on what place Japan had in the world if not to spread its superior economic practices. the death of the Showa emperor, Hirohito, and end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union (if not the Cold War in East Asia related to North Korea and China) further pushed Japan to reconsider its identity. As this process continues, Japan’s security practices are being transformed. Japan may not ever become “normal” from the perspective of a foreigner, but the process by which it seeks to become so nevertheless can be understood.

The past sixty years of Japanese historical development have been a time of . . .

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