Securing Japan

Securing Japan: Tokyo's Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia

Richard J. Samuels
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Securing Japan
    Book Description:

    For the past sixty years, the U.S. government has assumed that Japan's security policies would reinforce American interests in Asia. The political and military profile of Asia is changing rapidly, however. Korea's nuclear program, China's rise, and the relative decline of U.S. power have commanded strategic review in Tokyo just as these matters have in Washington. What is the next step for Japan's security policy? Will confluence with U.S. interests-and the alliance-survive intact? Will the policy be transformed? Or will Japan become more autonomous?

    Richard J. Samuels demonstrates that over the last decade, a revisionist group of Japanese policymakers has consolidated power. The Koizumi government of the early 2000s took bold steps to position Japan's military to play a global security role. It left its successor, the Abe government, to further define and legitimate Japan's new grand strategy, a project well under way-and vigorously contested both at home and in the region. Securing Japan begins by tracing the history of Japan's grand strategy-from the Meiji rulers, who recognized the intimate connection between economic success and military advance, to the Konoye consensus that led to Japan's defeat in World War II and the postwar compact with the United States.

    Samuels shows how the ideological connections across these wars and agreements help explain today's debate. He then explores Japan's recent strategic choices, arguing that Japan will ultimately strike a balance between national strength and national autonomy, a position that will allow it to exist securely without being either too dependent on the United States or too vulnerable to threats from China. Samuels's insights into Japanese history, society, and politics have been honed over a distinguished career and enriched by interviews with policymakers and original archival research. Securing Japan is a definitive assessment of Japanese security policy and its implications for the future of East Asia.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5922-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface to the Cornell Paperbacks Edition
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Introduction: Understanding Japan’s Grand Strategy
    (pp. 1-10)

    Many Japanese analysts do not believe Japan now has a coherent grand strategy, and more than a few insist that it never had one. One of Japan’s most distinguished diplomats declares that Japanese foreign policy has long been marked by “a conspicuous absence of strategic thinking.”¹ A former ambassador maintains that apart from an “exceptional decade” between 1895 and 1905, Japanese strategy has been “naïve” and, in the postwar period, “sterile.”² These eminent practitioners are hardly alone. A distinguished historian dedicates an entire chapter of his influential book to the irrationality of the prewar military.³ Another scholar argues that one...

  6. Part I. Historical Context

    • 1 Japan’s Grand Strategies: Connecting the Ideological Dots
      (pp. 13-37)

      Foreign affairs are always and everywhere domestic affairs as well. Japan has been no exception. By enforcing isolation for 250 years, the Tokugawa rulers were required to regulate, and often repress, scientists, Christians, and merchants at home. When regulation failed and the world forced itself upon the shogunate, fundamental differences about how to respond to the Western powers—whether to try to achieve national autonomy or acquiesce to foreign domination—stimulated the 1868 coup d’état that ended the regime. Likewise, five years later, when pragmatic oligarchs blocked Saigō Takamori’s impetuous plans to invade Korea, the result was civil war and...

    • 2 Baking the Pacifist Loaf
      (pp. 38-60)

      Japanese security policy has traveled a consistent path since the nineteenth century. Periods of extensive debate have been followed by periods of broad consensus, but only when a coherent grand strategy dovetailed with effective political management. Alone, neither brilliant strategy nor effective political control was ever sufficient to support a broad national strategic consensus. Unexpected shifts in world order have been critical for change, but creative leadership was always required to institutionalize those changes. The Meiji Consensus was enabled when oligarchic power holders deployed a brilliant developmental strategy. The Konoye consensus marked the triumph of authoritarian politics combined with a...

  7. Part II. A World in Flux

    • 3 The Change to Change
      (pp. 63-85)

      A great deal has changed since the late 1980s, when Japan was known as an economic giant and political pygmy. Japan is still an economic giant, of course, but its willingness to act in world affairs is no longer pygmylike. Its defense budget, which in fiscal year 2006 was over $41 billion, is one of the five largest in the world, and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces have now been dispatched for UN peacekeeping operations to Cambodia, Mozambique, and the Golan Heights, among other places. In the mid-1990s, Tokyo agreed to expand its security role from the homeland to the larger East...

    • 4 Whither the Yoshida Doctrine?
      (pp. 86-108)

      Even if the 1990s was a “lost decade” in economic terms, it was a period of major transformation for security policy.¹ Senior defense officials may still claim demurely that Japan is in a “rudimentary phase” of determining its grand strategy, but Prime Minister Obuchi Keizō long ago declared that the SDF had passed into a new phase, from an institution being built to one being used.² Never since 1945 have the Self-Defense Forces been so capable and so widely accepted—and postwar Japanese diplomats and military planners have never been as openly assertive about the importance of “getting security right.”...

    • 5 The Discourse
      (pp. 109-132)

      There are few truly new ideas about how nations can protect themselves. Each country is armed with its military, its diplomats, its mix of resources, its ambition, and its wits. The rest is, as ever, derivative. This is why students studying international relations, diplomacy, and national security are still required to read The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, and Machiavelli’s The Prince. Ideas about strategy endure because geography, demography, and technology endure as constraints on the ability of leaders to make their people prosperous and safe. But if there are few original ideas about...

  8. Part III. Threats and Responses

    • 6 The New Threat Environment
      (pp. 135-157)

      Threat is the anticipation of harm to a state’s population, through the loss of territory, sovereignty, or wealth. Some threats, such as those posed by weapons of mass destruction or by enemy troops at the border, are direct. Other threats are indirect, as rivals exercise their power to raise the costs of preferred policies. Nor, as the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the attacks on the United States in September 2001 both illustrate, do threats always come from other states. Revolutionary groups, terrorists, and international financial institutions can all pose threats. Because threats come in various shapes and sizes,...

    • 7 Meeting (and Making) Threats
      (pp. 158-184)

      Japan clearly lives in a dangerous—or, at least, unstable—neighborhood where military and economic threats abound. The previous chapter documented perceived threats from North Korea, from China, from abandonment by its U.S. ally, and from Japan’s own inability to maintain a competitive national economy. Debate about these threats and how to respond to them has never been more lively or more open than it is today.

      Are Japan’s responses to these threats commensurate with the dangers? After all, what Japan has done may be driven not by threats but by domestic politics or by pressure from its U.S. ally....

  9. Conclusion: Japan’s Evolving Grand Strategy
    (pp. 185-210)

    A great many historical analogies have been invoked to explain contemporary Japanese grand strategy. Some are benign: the Venetian example is used to suggest how maritime powers can safely provide both security and prosperity without becoming too aggressive, the Dutch example to show how failed empires can regain their luster through alliance with Anglo-Saxon powers.¹ Parallels have been drawn between Japan’s response to the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 and the Iraq War in 2003. Both, a retired MSDF admiral has argued, were responses to requests of the international community through which Japan won the respect and trust of the great...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 211-248)
  11. References
    (pp. 249-272)
  12. Index
    (pp. 273-278)