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CompleteMartialArts.com - Securing Japan: Tokyo's Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

Securing Japan: Tokyo's Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)
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Manufacturer: Cornell University Press
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Binding: Hardcover
Dewey Decimal Number: 355.033052
EAN: 9780801446122
ISBN: 0801446120
Label: Cornell University Press
Manufacturer: Cornell University Press
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 277
Publication Date: 2007-08-02
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Studio: Cornell University Press

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For the past sixty years, the U.S. government has assumed that Japan's security policies would reinforce American interests in Asia. The political and military profile of Asia is changing rapidly, however. Korea's nuclear program, China's rise, and the relative decline of U.S. power have commanded strategic review in Tokyo just as these matters have in Washington. What is the next step for Japan's security policy? Will confluence with U.S. interests--and the alliance--survive intact? Will the policy be transformed? Or will Japan become more autonomous?

Richard J. Samuels demonstrates that over the last decade, a revisionist group of Japanese policymakers has consolidated power. The Koizumi government of the early 2000s took bold steps to position Japan's military to play a global security role. It left its successor, the Abe government, to further define and legitimate Japan's new grand strategy, a project well under way-and vigorously contested both at home and in the region.

Securing Japan begins by tracing the history of Japan's grand strategy--from the Meiji rulers, who recognized the intimate connection between economic success and military advance, to the Konoye Consensus that led to Japan's defeat in World War II and the postwar compact with the United States. Samuels shows how the ideological connections across these wars and agreements help explain today's debate. He then explores Japan's recent strategic choices, arguing that Japan will ultimately strike a balance between national strength and national autonomy, a position that will allow it to exist securely without being either too dependent on the United States or too vulnerable to threats from China.

Samuels's insights into Japanese history, society, and politics have been honed over a distinguished career and enriched by interviews with policymakers and original archival research. Securing Japan is a definitive assessment of Japanese security policy and its implications for the future of East Asia.

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Summary: Charting Japan's Political Scene
Comment: Securing Japan has always been the central axis of Japanese political life, and it very much remains so today. There is a remarkable continuity in the debates surrounding Japanese security. Ideas are connected across time, and so are people: heirs to political traditions are often the direct offsprings of politicians from bygone eras, and they tend to reenact on the contemporary scene the political dramas played by their ancestors.

As Richard Samuels notes, the security policy preferences of contemporary Japanese actors can be sorted along two axes. The first is a measure of the value placed on the alliance with the United States. The second refers to the willingness to use force in international affairs, which is currently prohibited by the constitution.

Of the four categories sorted by these two axes, two are fringe actors. Neo-autonomists flirt with Japan's imperial past and resent the US military presence, but they never attracted any significant following. Pacifists are a shadow of their former self, having had to swallow the disavowal of their core beliefs by the now defunct Socialist Party, but they retain some influence in the education system and in the media.

The two main actors that vie for supremacy both favor a close embrace with the US, but they differ on how to pursue national prestige. Those who believe Japan should be a "normal nation" argue that national strength is the key to national prestige, and favor a loosening of the constraints imposed by article 9 of the constitution. Opposing them are the "middle power internationalists" who believe that Japan must remain a merchant power with self-imposed limits on its right to belligerency.

All four groups seek security for Japan, but each closely associates security with a different value: neo-autonomists seek security with sovereignty, pacifists security with peace. Normal nation-alists want security with equality; middle power internationalists seek security through prosperity.

The author introduces more subtle distinctions within these categories. Those who want Japan to be a "normal nation" have tended to dominate contemporary policy debates, but they often differ on what normalcy really means. The first perspective is offered by Ichiro Ozawa, who consistently advocates that the Japanese military should be strengthened but deployed only under the banner of UN peacekeeping operations. Then come the hard-boiled realists, who want to make the alliance with the US more reciprocal, while keeping in mind that an alliance lasts only as long as it serves the national interest. Third among this category, the revisionists are a romantic lot who view Japan as a beautiful nation, but who feel less apologetic than most politicians about Japan's imperial past and especially about war crimes, thereby causing anger in neighboring countries and some embarrassment in the US.

Likewise, middle power internationalists are divided between mercantile realists, who believe that Japan should continue to eschew military power and remain close to the United States for its security, and "Asianists" who accept the alliance, in some cases grudgingly, but believe that Japanese policy should strike a better balance between the US and Japan's neighbors. Asianists therefore seek to build regional institutions to counterbalance US unilateralism and to accommodate the rise of China.

This book is a recommended read for all persons who try to decipher Japan's contemporary political scene. Even in a fast changing environment, where the old system is brought to an end and everything seems to be in flux, Richard Samuels' Securing Japan should remain a reference for the years to come.

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