Japanese security policy has undergone significant changes lately. Japanese policymakers have recently argued over advancing Japan's Self-Defense Forces with new weapon systems. In particular, the Abe government has decided to purchase long-range cruise missiles for its new F-35A jetfighters, and to reconstruct a newly-built helicopter carrier into an aircraft carrier. While specific policy proposals continued dividing policymakers and other stakeholders, the underlying story specifying Japan's place in East Asia, the rise of China, the threat of North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, the tight security relationship with the United States and the vulnerability of the Japanese archipelago has faced little core criticism. The lack of alternative national security narratives suggests the emergence of a Japanese security consensus in the mid-2010s. The strength of the narrative in deterring policymakers to refrain from critique, through the significant costs incurred by opposition, could also suggest a hegemonic narrative (but not necessarily a consensus). We find that the dominant narrative provided a necessary foundation for unorthodox policy proposals, which arguably enabled the Abe government to push through military instrument expansions in the Self-Defense Forces, moves far from politically sustainable only a decade earlier.


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pp. 323-348
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