In This Review

The Crisis of Liberal Internationalism: Japan and the World Order
The Crisis of Liberal Internationalism: Japan and the World Order
Edited by Yoichi Funabashi and G. John Ikenberry
Brookings Institution Press, 2020, 340 pp

Can a traditionally restrained Japan play a more active role in defending the liberal international order, now that the United States is retreating from its role as the order’s guarantor? The expert contributors to this volume give the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe high marks for adopting a more proactive foreign policy than its predecessors. Japan rescued the trade agreement formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the United States withdrew from it; sought security cooperation with the European Union, Australia, India, and other regional powers; toughened its military posture around the contested Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in China); and directed development assistance to strengthen governing institutions in democratic countries. The writers recommend further measures in the same direction, including enhancing security cooperation with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, backing reform at the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, and increasing support for multilateral and civil society organizations that promote the rule of law and environmental rights. The book is a richly informative primer on Japanese politics and foreign policy. But the modesty of its proposals underscores the reality that there is no good solution for Japanese security if the country cannot rely on the alliance with the United States.