Japan’s Security Renaissance: New Policies and Politics for the Twenty-first Century
By Andrew L. Oros
Over the past decade, intensifying Chinese and North Korean threats to Japan have accelerated a long-brewing shift in what Oros calls Japan’s “security identity,” from a country that can never use force to one that must play a larger role in defending itself. Although a national consensus remains elusive, the center of public discourse on this subject has moved to the right, even if not all the way to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s preferred stance of revising the “peace constitution.” So-called conservative realists have taken over the mainstream in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, new parties have emerged to the ldp’s right, the main opposition parties on the left have become more pragmatic about security issues, and the military has gained greater influence. Signs of the resulting “security renaissance” include Japan’s acquisition of sophisticated new ships and antimissile systems, the redeployment of Japanese forces to defend the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, strengthened military cooperation with the United States, an embrace of a larger role in collective defense beyond East Asia (including in the Middle East), and outreach to regional neighbors such as Australia, India, and Vietnam. Japan is not reverting to militarism, but it has become a more formidable security actor.