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Measuring Japan in the Military Balance and Evaluating Theories of Japanese Security

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Abstract:

To what extent has Japanese security policy been constrained by domestic norms and antimilitarism? How does the impact of domestic factors and norms compare to the effect of the external security environment? What theories best explain the past half-century of Japanese security policy, and what should we expect from Japan in the future?

This paper makes three central arguments. First, the debate about the roots of Japanese security policy suffers from widespread misunderstanding about an important aspect of that policy: specifically, the level of Japanese military power. Scholars have either neglected to measure Japanese military power or have measured it superficially, fueling the misconception of Japan as “a military pygmy.” Japan is no military pygmy; since the late 1970s Japan has transformed its military from a second-rate force to one of the world’s leading military powers. Second, constructivist theories—predicting that domestic antimilitarism will block major changes in Japan’s security policy—cannot account for this dramatic transformation. Third, the course of Japanese post-World War II security policy—both the period of meager defense effort and the period of vigorous military buildup—is consistent with a realist “free-riding” strategy.

This analysis has implications for international relations theory and the future of Japanese security policy. Antimilitarist norms have not prevented Japan from building a first-rate military. The fact that Japan accomplished this feat, in spite of a constitutional ban on military forces and widespread public opposition, should cast doubt on the power of domestic norms relative to other factors in security policy. Regarding U.S. foreign policy, this paper suggests that as long as Japan adheres to a free-riding strategy, it will not willingly build additional costly military capabilities or take on significant new roles within the U.S.-Japan alliance. Japan will deflect U.S. requests for significantly greater military contributions unless the United States reduces its military presence in East Asia, or unless other events cause Japan’s threat environment to deteriorate significantly.

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japan (255), militari (202), japanes (171), power (162), secur (150), defens (110), polici (98), state (87), war (73), world (70), capabl (65), soviet (64), forc (63), strategi (61), air (56), u.s (53), realist (52), pp (46), unit (46), p (44), intern (44),

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Japan, security, realism, anti-militarism, East Asia
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MLA Citation:

Lind, Jennifer. "Measuring Japan in the Military Balance and Evaluating Theories of Japanese Security" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, Aug 27, 2003 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p64516_index.html>

APA Citation:

Lind, J. , 2003-08-27 "Measuring Japan in the Military Balance and Evaluating Theories of Japanese Security" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Philadelphia, PA Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p64516_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: To what extent has Japanese security policy been constrained by domestic norms and antimilitarism? How does the impact of domestic factors and norms compare to the effect of the external security environment? What theories best explain the past half-century of Japanese security policy, and what should we expect from Japan in the future?

This paper makes three central arguments. First, the debate about the roots of Japanese security policy suffers from widespread misunderstanding about an important aspect of that policy: specifically, the level of Japanese military power. Scholars have either neglected to measure Japanese military power or have measured it superficially, fueling the misconception of Japan as “a military pygmy.” Japan is no military pygmy; since the late 1970s Japan has transformed its military from a second-rate force to one of the world’s leading military powers. Second, constructivist theories—predicting that domestic antimilitarism will block major changes in Japan’s security policy—cannot account for this dramatic transformation. Third, the course of Japanese post-World War II security policy—both the period of meager defense effort and the period of vigorous military buildup—is consistent with a realist “free-riding” strategy.

This analysis has implications for international relations theory and the future of Japanese security policy. Antimilitarist norms have not prevented Japan from building a first-rate military. The fact that Japan accomplished this feat, in spite of a constitutional ban on military forces and widespread public opposition, should cast doubt on the power of domestic norms relative to other factors in security policy. Regarding U.S. foreign policy, this paper suggests that as long as Japan adheres to a free-riding strategy, it will not willingly build additional costly military capabilities or take on significant new roles within the U.S.-Japan alliance. Japan will deflect U.S. requests for significantly greater military contributions unless the United States reduces its military presence in East Asia, or unless other events cause Japan’s threat environment to deteriorate significantly.

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Document Type: .pdf
Page count: 39
Word count: 13037
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Measuring Japan in the Military Balance and Evaluating Theories of Japanese Security Paper prepared for delivery at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association Philadelphia PA August 28-31 2003 Jennifer M. Lind Massachusetts Institute of Technology jlind@mit.edu A significant debate within international relations theory—one central to debates about East Asian security—centers on the future of Japanese security policy.1 For decades many realist scholars predicted that Japanese military power and activism would grow with Japanese wealth.2 As
Japanese security policy. Third the paper argues that continuity and change in Japanese military power are consistent with a realist strategy of free-riding. Further testing might show that Japanese antimilitarism affected its choice of a security strategy but antimilitarism has not placed meaningful constraints on Japanese power. predictions of individual state behavior.” Berger Cultures of Antimilitarism p. 203. Other scholars advocating such approaches are Green Japan's Reluctant Realism; Soeya “Japan: Normative Constraints Versus Structural Imperatives”; Pyle The Japanese Question;


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