Rikki Kersten on Japan's strategic dilemmas

In the second decade of the 21st century, the geostrategic environment in Northeast Asia is forcing Japan to confront some long-standing strategic dilemmas. Can Japan keep the US engaged in the defence of Japan, when the interests of the US are leaning towards China? How can Japan reconcile its pacifist national identity with its desire for greater autonomy in its alliance with the US? And can Japan be recognised as a legitimate post-war power, when war continues to frame Japan’s contemporary relationships in the region?

As the US pursues its ‘rebalance’ policy framework and implements its global force posture review, the conservative Abe administration is assessing its policy options in the realm of security. In doing so, it is attempting to prepare public opinion to accept a more assertive and independent security stance.
To date, Japan has been understood mainly as a constrained security actor: subordinate to the US, and prioritising its economy over defence. In order to comprehend the fundamental changes that are underway in Japan’s approach to security, we must overturn redundant analytical assumptions concerning Japan’s national interest, its national identity and its aspirations as a power in contemporary Asia.

Read the entire policy brief at the Australian Institute of International Affairs website.

Updated:  27 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  JI Management Group/Page Contact:  Japan Institute