An Economic Superpower in Search of Its Proper Political Role in the Post-Cold War Era
On 19 August 1991, as the first Japan-U.S. Hawaii Conference of Legislators, Scholars, and Journalists began at the Maui Prince Hotel on the island of Maui, we learned of a coup in the Soviet Union. 1 At the conference, former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita remarked that he was glad not to be in Tokyo as leaders there would be busily consulting with each other as to what the government should do. This revelation, among others, pointed to the absence of an established Japanese foreign policy to deal with key issues of the 1990s. The Gulf crisis was more difficult for Japan to deal with because of its constitutional constraint on the use of military forces abroad.
There are some generalizations that can be made about Japanese foreign policy that were illustrated by the Gulf crisis, in particular, and conditions in West Asia and North Africa, in general. First, Japan had not established a basic policy to deal with emerging world problems, particularly in the post-cold war era, even though it wished to play a greater role commensurate with its economic prowess. This prompted the question: Should Japan send its self-defense forces abroad? Article 9 of its constitution clearly and unambiguously renounced war as a policy instrument; therefore Japan maintained no military forces. The Gulf crisis was the first situation that called for possible military action from Japan. In the past, Japanese policy- making toward the Gulf and West Asia did not include a military component.
Second, the Japanese, because of their language and culture, were structurally nonselection-oriented in relation to Semites and Western-