East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

April 3 Workshop


Is Japan an Anomaly?

Japan’s Consistent Security Policies in the Postwar Era

Presenter: Yoneyuki Sugita

Associate Professor of American history

Osaka University

4:30-6:00pm, Tuesday

April 3, 2012

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.


This presentation examines Japan’s security policy in the post-World War II era. Many researchers regard this policy as anomalous, but, in this regard, Japan has been turning into a “normal” state in the 21st century. This presentation claims that, since World War II, Japan has been conducting a pragmatic and consistent security policy, using all its assets, including Article Nine of the Japanese constitution and its economic vulnerability to maximize its security. The rise and fall of American hegemony changed Japan’s tactics, but the consistent essence of its security policy has been to tread a line minimizing its defense contributions without jeopardizing the Japan-U.S. alliance. This essence was established during the Allied occupation.

With the rise and fall of U.S. hegemony, Japan adroitly changed its tactics to maintain this golden rule. As the 9.11 terrorist attacks further eroded U.S. power and prestige, Japan was expected to play a more active security role. Japan’s security policy seemed to change dramatically, but the change was well thought out, careful, and flexible enough to avoid making Japan a permanent warmongering country and to maintain the alliance with the United States.

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