Japan’s Remilitarisation

In This Review

Japan’s Remilitarisation
By Christopher W. Hughes
Routledge, 2009
188 pp. $19.95
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For 40 years, Japan has incrementally raised its defense budget, extended its security perimeter, improved its armaments, and raised the bureaucratic status and operational ambit of the Self-Defense Forces. Do these trends, which accelerated after 2001, represent remilitarization or just the maintenance of a defensive posture in a more challenging security environment? Hughes argues for the former interpretation, based not just on data about budgets and weapons but also on contextual factors, such as the erosion of civilian control over the military, the strengthening of the military-industrial complex, the Liberal Democratic Party's promotion of constitutional changes, and Japan's acceptance of new tasks within the U.S.-Japanese defense alliance. Such trends validate the wariness of Japan's neighbors, such as China. But as Hughes acknowledges, Japan is nowhere near having the capacity to go to war without support from the United States. With Japan's government now under a new ruling party, this book provides a useful baseline from which to measure the future evolution of Japanese defense policy.