Why Tokyo's New Government Is More Pragmatic Than HawkishJ. Berkshire Miller and Takashi Yokota
J. BERKSHIRE MILLER is a Fellow on Japan at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Pacific Forum. TAKASHI YOKOTA is Editor in Chief of Newsweek Japan and Newsweek’s correspondent in Tokyo.
Over the past year, as Japan has engaged in ugly territorial tussles with China and South Korea, outside observers have fretted about the country's shift to the right. That trend seemed to be confirmed by the election of the conservative Shinzo Abe, who returned to office as prime minister last December, having previously served in that role in 2006-7. Given Abe's hawkish statements on the campaign trail, some concluded that his return to power meant that Japan would suddenly turn the page on the pacifist strategy it has pursued since World War II, charting a more muscular and nationalistic course. The Economist boldly asserted that Abe's "scarily right-wing" cabinet is full of "radical nationalists," which "bodes ill for the region." According to this narrative, Tokyo will look to further contain China and North Korea and take a tougher diplomatic stance with South Kore