In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

[ 57 ] roundtable • pursuing security in a dynamic northeast asia Japan’s Emerging Grand Strategy* Richard J. Samuels Japan’s national security strategy is once again the object of considerable debate, the fourth such moment in a century-and-a-half of alternating debates and consensuses. A widespread belief in the efficacy of “catching up and surpassing” the West helped elites in the late nineteenth century forge the Meiji consensus on borrowing foreign institutions, learning Western rules, and mastering Western practice. This “Rich Nation, Strong Army” model was a great success, but the consensus became tattered by the end of World War I, when it was clear that the West viewed Japanese ambitions with suspicion. After a period of domestic violence and intimidation, a new consensus was forged on a less conciliatory response to world affairs. Prince Konoye Fumimaro’s 1937 “New Asian Order” attracted support from across a wide swath of Japan’s ideological spectrum. The new Japan would be a great power, Asia’s leader. The disaster that resulted is well known, and from its ashes— again, after considerable debate, creative reinvention, and consolidation of power—Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru conjured a pragmatic path to provide security cheaply as the Cold War began. This security would not, however, be free. The Yoshida Doctrine, which called for Japan to adopt the U.S. stance on international politics in exchange for military protection and mercantile gain, would cost Japan its autonomy. Increasingly, this cost is seen by many as more than Japan should pay. Thus the strategy that has joined Japan and the United States at the hip is being questioned—both by those who support the alliance and by those who oppose it. The fourth consensus has yet to reveal itself, though its contending political and intellectual constituents are clearly identifiable. Ken Pyle is likely correct when he argues that “Japan’s future foreign policy will differ from the grand strategy that [Yoshida] pioneered. Its Cold War role as a merchant Richard J. Samuels is the Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the Founding Director of the MIT Japan Program and in 2001 became Chairman of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission. In addition, he is on the Editorial Board for the journal Asia Policy. His forthcoming book, titled Securing Japan, will be released in 2007. He is available at . * This paper is derived from the author’s forthcoming book, Securing Japan (Cornell University Press). The author is grateful to the Smith Richardson Foundation for its generous support. [ 58 ] asia policy nation and the core domestic institutions associated with that role will then seem part of a distant past.” The contemporary discourse about Japanese grand strategy is connected directly to the past and filled with strange—and shifting—bedfellows. Heirs to prewar nativism share antipathetic views of the U.S. alliance with heirs of the old left. Today’s small Japanists and big Japanists agree that the alliance matters but disagree fundamentally on how much Japan should pay for its maintenance—and whether part of that cost should include Japan’s becoming “normal” (see Appendix). The deck is reshuffled yet again on the issue of accommodation with China. Meanwhile, the security policy preferences of contemporary Japanese scholars, commentators, politicians, and bureaucrats can be sorted along two axes (see Table 1). The first axis is a measure of the value placed on the alliance with the United States. At one extreme there is the view that the United States is Japan’s most important source of security and therefore must be embraced. From this perspective, the extent of U.S. power and the limits of Japanese capabilities should be central to Japanese calculations. U.S. bases in Japan are critical elements of any coherent national security strategy. At the other extreme is the view that in a unipolar world the United States is a dangerous bully that must be kept at a distance, for fear that Tokyo would otherwise become entangled in Washington’s ill-conceived adventures. This entanglement is made all the more likely by the presence of U.S. bases. Located in...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 57-64
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.