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  • Japan's Security Policy and the ASEAN Regional Forum: The Search for Multilateral Security in the Asia-Pacific
  • Saadia M. Pekkanen (bio)
Japan's Security Policy and the ASEAN Regional Forum: The Search for Multilateral Security in the Asia-Pacific. By Takeshi Yuzawa. Routledge, London, 2007. xv, 219 pages. $160.00.

This is a balanced and well-researched book, which focuses on changing Japanese conceptions of and policy toward the ASEAN Regional Forum [End Page 200] (ARF). The term "conception" is used by Takeshi Yuzawa to refer to a "range of psychological states including views, beliefs, perceptions and expectations pertaining to the form, roles and efficacies of regional security institutions (in this case, the ARF), shared by the mainstream of Japan's policy makers in charge of security policy" (pp. 10–11). Using this as the analytical departure point, the book is primarily concerned with seeing how and why such conceptions changed and subsequently affected the formulation of Japan's ARF policy from 1989 to 2005. Although it remains sensitive to a range of other domestic and international factors that come into play in examining policy outcomes and events in the ARF, the primary emphasis is on the shifting Japanese conceptions of regional security multilateralism. Throughout the study, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is considered the dominant player in the making of ARF policy because the ARF's member participants are represented by foreign ministries, not defense ministries, and also because MOFA has thus far had (at least prior to the establishment of the Ministry of Defense) greater weight in the making of Japan's defense policy.

Japanese homegrown initiatives toward regional-multilateral security, as in the 1991 Nakayama proposal (Japan's initiative to establish a region-wide multilateral security forum), were undertaken in the face of U.S. opposition and remain a relatively little understood part of the major shifts in Japan's national security overall. This is particularly interesting because they also predate some of the more well-known incremental changes in Japan's national security policies that have focused attention on the prospects for Japan's (re)militarization: peacekeeping operations, dispatch of Self Defense Forces to Iraq, changing operational contents of the U.S.-Japan alliance, deployment of theater missile defense (TMD), and the creation of a new Ministry of Defense, to name a few. This is not a facile book about any such prospects but rather one that allows us to understand a parallel and, from a regional-institutionalist perspective, a far more ambitious diplomatic realm that highlights Japan's struggle to articulate and locate its overall security relations with its neighbors.

Rather than tying himself to any one theoretical construct or level of analysis (which is fashionable to do in political science but which never remains unchallenged empirically), Yuzawa focuses on a "problem-driven" empirical analysis of Japan's efforts to build regional security institutions beginning most prominently in the early 1990s. The primary question that glues his historical narrative together is: What explains the shifting conception of Japan's ARF policy? From there, he seeks to assess the consequences of such shifts in understanding both empirical (future directions in Japanese security policy, prospects for regional security-institution building) and theoretical (implications for international relations theories) issues of interest.

There is much to be gleaned from the chapters that lay out the variations [End Page 201] across time in Japan's shift toward an ARF and then its disinterest in the very same institution. The beginning of chapter 1 repeats basic facts concerning Japan's security policy during the cold war rather than focusing on an element like the "Fukuda Doctrine" that was obviously, as Yuzawa recognizes, pertinent to the origins of Japan's awareness of regional realities. However, from there the chapter provides interesting insights into domestic efforts toward the construction of the Nakayama proposal through the concerted activities of one MOFA individual, Satō Yukio. As Yuzawa convincingly argues, the Nakayama proposal cannot be explained as an effort to secure a continued U.S. military commitment through regional-multilateral ventures; in fact, the U.S. presence was and continues to be predicated on the preservation of the U.S.-Japan security...


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pp. 200-205
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