Bigger shield alliance, politics, and military change in Japan
Winward, Lynn H.
Twomey, Christopher P.
Olsen, Edward A.
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Military change has been a persistent characteristic of Japan's re-emergence from World War II. However, most studies focus on Tokyo's 'evolutionary-like' and 'incremental' efforts, rooting them in a host of structural impediments to change. Nonetheless, Japan continues to strengthen its reliance on the U.S. 'sword' while building a broader more effective 'shield.' Through three case studies (U.S alignment in the 1950s/1960s, the 1981 expansion to a 1,000nm defense perimeter, and post- Cold War BMD cooperation with the United States) this thesis shows that despite pervasive pacifism, deeply riven domestic politics, and apparent inflexibility on military security policy, Japan has nonetheless been capable of initiating significant military change. While international systemic factors and U.S. pressure have played a role, Japan's security policies have formed under the political, institutional, legal, and societal norms infused in the postwar environment. This has required political elites to subordinate national security interests to the influence of Japan's evolving domestic political environment. Ultimately, these barriers have diminished as Japan's domestic political environment has consolidated resulting in an ability to quicker react to external events. This thesis suggests that U.S. policy toward Japan, while important, overlooks the core issue of Japan's domestic politics in shaping its security policy.
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