PM-Shinzo-AbeOver the last two months a significant amount of media coverage on Japan’s security policy evolution has dominated the online sphere. Concerns have been raised about Japan having “offensive aircraft carriers,” developing amphibious capabilities, planning to acquire preemptive strike capabilities, and engaging in debate about Japan exercising its right to collective self-defense. To be sure from the point of view of policy evolution, these developments are very important and significant. However, the stories that are being told regarding Japan apparently abandoning its “pacifism”, or if you are the Chinese government or a Korean newspaper, Japan embracing militarism, all hold in common the lack of a sincere desire to represent the issues in a balanced way, or are simply misinformed.

I have two contributions to make towards this discussion.

First, in some naked self-promotion, I have recently had an article published in the International Relations of the Asia-Pacific Journal, which in particular touches upon Japan’s post-Koizumi grand strategy. The advanced access article should be free to download from here.

Second, over the next few weeks I will focus in on Japan’s security policy and the problems and controversies that are likely to arise given Abe Shinzo’s “untwisting” of the Diet in the most recent election. Abe’s strengthened legislative hand on the back of the seeming initial success of “Abenomics,” and so far steady political leadership, gives him considerable power to make significant changes in various areas relating to Japan’s security policy and the US-Japan alliance. This second contribution will take the form of a five part series that will take a brief look at the contemporary status of Japan’s security policy as of 2013.

As previously discussed by Tobias Harris, it is always possible that Abe could falter politically on the domestic scene, especially if the economy does not perform as expected, which would restrain Abe’s security policy reforms. But it is also possible that by the time of the prospective double election in mid-2016, Japan’s security policy may look quite different if Abe is successful, and the opposition continues to perform inadequately. In order to give some perspective on Japan’s already changing security policy, I will cover two controversial constitutional issues (war potential, collective self-defense), and three equally controversial specific military capabilities (helicopter carriers, amphibious capabilities, and preemptive strike capabilities), and will offer some prognostications about Japan’s security policy evolution. These issues are:

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Corey Wallace joined Japan Security Watch in 2011. He writes on Japan security-related topics, focusing on issues and stories that may not find their way into the English language media. He also hosts the blog Sigma1 where he writes on Japanese domestic politics and broader issues in international relations. Prior to taking up a PhD Corey was a participant on the JET program (2004-2007) and on returning to New Zealand he worked at the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology from 2007-2010 as a policy adviser. Corey lectures two courses at the University of Auckland. One is on the international relations of the Asia-Pacific, which contains a significant focus on East Asia security issues. The other is a course on China's international relations. His primary academic interests before his current Japan focus were science and technology politics/policy, issues of ethnic identity, and Chinese modern history and politics. He carries over his interest in issues of identity and history into his PhD where he is looking at generationally situated concepts of national identity and their impact on foreign policy ideas in Japan.
Corey Wallace has 51 post(s) on Japan Security Watch