AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 12

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Session 12: Security Policy in Asia

How Populist is Japanese Security Policy?
Robert J. Weiner, Independent Scholar, USA

In recent years, Japan has begun to reassess its restrained security profile. This partly reflects the end of the Cold War, threats in China and North Korea, and resulting shifts in public opinion. Newer and less understood are political-process changes that may shift leverage from bureaucratic experts to more populist influences – general public opinion, politicians, and mass media. The new Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government intends to institute durable reforms that lessen bureaucratic influence and amplify the public’s role in security policymaking. The Hatoyama government may have pursued this to a counterproductive extreme over the Futenma relocation issue, but how willing and able is the party to change course? Meanwhile, the rise of genuine two-party competition – likely to persist for some years even if the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) eventually regains power – reduces politicians’ insulation from public opinion and thereby increases voters’ leverage. And the LDP, now a smaller opposition party more dependent on its conservative “base,” has new incentives to pursue populist and aggressive security-policy stances. Japanese mass media, finally, are increasingly woven into the political process: they both relay public opinion more insistently to policymakers and help shift public opinion through sensationalistic coverage of North Korea and China. How will these changes affect the direction and volatility of Japan’s security policy? Previous analyses mainly addressed gradual change under continuing LDP rule. We aim to assess how Japan’s new political environment might extend and entrench such changes, using Futenma and the National Defense Program Guidelines as case studies.

Japan’s Maritime Security Strategy under the Democratic Party of Japan
Jeffrey Hornung, Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, USA

Last August, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) swept into power. It spent much of the past year dealing with issues regarding its promise to create a more equal partnership with the US. However, much to a paucity of strategic thinking, the DPJ found itself in a diplomatic spat with the US over base relocation in Okinawa. Despite its campaign promises, the DPJ was forced to backtrack to a plan created under its predecessors. While Japan’s relations with the US remain ‘unequal’ and the base issue remains unresolved, the DPJ is under constant criticism that it lacks strategic thinking. Yet, the DPJ is scheduled to release a new National Defense Program Outline (NDPO) this year that will guide Japan’s defense strategy. What sort of defense strategy will a party without strategic thinking create? I am particularly interested in examining the DPJ’s maritime security strategy. Even before the DPJ came into power, little has been written about Japan’s maritime security strategy. I will examine Japan’s maritime security strategy over the past 20 years, including the DPJ’s new NDPO. Understanding Japan’s maritime security, including past developments and planned changes, is crucial given the rapid modernization of the Chinese navy, armed North Korean vessels entering Japanese waters, and increasing pirate attacks in vital chokepoints in Southeast Asia that threaten Japanese tankers. Through my examination of Japan’s NDPOs, I will provide the first extensive examination of Japan’s post-Cold War maritime security strategy and argue whether it is appropriate given the threats Japan faces.