The Japan Times has an interesting article on Japan and peacekeeping missions, particularly as to how the Democratic Party of Japan and and the Social Democratic Party view them. Consider this a bellwether for the future.

Part of the problem with Japanese peacekeeping missions is that the rules of participation are so strict that participation is only possible if it really doesn’t matter if Japanese peacekeepers are there or not. From the article:

For the SDF to be deployed, a ceasefire agreement between parties to a conflict must be in place; the host nation and parties to an armed conflict must agree to their presence; the mission must be impartial; force can only be used in self-defense; and Japanese forces must be withdrawn if any of the other conditions are not met.

The real problem with these rules is that they prevent Japanese forces from becoming indispensable.  In fact, the rules make it likely that Japanese participation in any international effort would be redundant. If the situation is that stable, who needs the Japanese? And if Japanese peacekeepers show up and it doesn’t really matter if they’re there or not, then the danger to Japan is that their presence appears more self-serving than anything else.

I’m sure somewhere out there’s an NGO joke that goes:

Q. How do you know you’re not going to be killed delivering food aid?
A. The Japanese are here.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch