Is Japan remerging as a great, or 'normal', military power in regional and global security affairs? Japan's decisions about whether to continue strengthening its bilateral alliance with the US; to seek an enhanced role in multilateral security frameworks; or, to carve out a more autonomous defence role, will have a crucial influence upon security affairs in East Asia and beyond. This talk seeks to assess the overall trajectory of Japan's security policy over the last decade including the reaction to the 'war on terror' and the impact of a changing Japanese military posture on the stability of East Asia . The talk examines Japan's evolving security debate in the context of a shifting international strategic environment and domestic policy-making system. It investigates the status of Japan's national military capabilities, doctrines, and constitutional prohibitions; developments in the US-Japan alliance post-Cold War and post-9/11; and Japan's role in multilateral regional security dialogue, UN PKO, and US-led 'coalitions of the willing' in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The talk will argue that Japan is becoming a more assertive military power and that this trend has accelerated post-9/11. Japan is poised to undertake new and expanded military responsibilities but it is unlikely to channel its military power through significantly different frameworks than at present. Japan will opt for the enhanced, and probably inextricable, integration of its military capabilities into the US-Japan alliance rather than pursuing options for greater autonomy or multilateralism. Japan's strengthened role as the defensive shield for the offensive sword of US power projection will only serve to bolster US military hegemony in East Asia and globally.
Dr. Chris Hughes is Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director at the Center for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom. His research interests include Japanese foreign and security policy, Japanese international political economy, regionalism in East Asia, post-Cold War traditional and non-traditional security policy, and North Korea's external political and economic relations. The author of many journal articles and book chapters, his recent books include "Japan's Economic Power and Security: Japan and North Korea" (Routledge, 1999), "Japan's Security Agenda: Military, Economic and Environmental Dimensions" (Lynne Rienner, 2003), and "Japan's Reemergence as a 'Normal' Military Power?" (Oxford University Press, 2004).