Much remains to be done before Japan can claim to have revamped its cold war posture on defense. The largest obstacle remains the self-imposed budget cap that limits defense spending to 1 percent of GDP. It has been compounded by Japan's fiscal difficulty, which has led to absolute decreases in defense budgets since the beginning of the transformation. Moreover, collective self-defense is still not yet part of legal practice, even if it has become a de facto arrow in Japan's security quiver. Still, much more has changed than most analysts imagined possible even five years ago, including the elevation of the JDA to ministry status and legislation enabling the SDF to use force to protect itself and, perhaps, its peacekeeping partners. In the somewhat longer term, there will be the renaming of the SDF to include the term 'military,'and either formal reinterpretation or outright revision of the constitution to enable collective self-defense. The change in Japanese security policymaking has been auspicious for the U.S.-Japan alliance, for the development of a more muscular and autonomous Japan, and for regional and global security. Japan may never again be as central to world affairs as it was in the 1930S nor as marginal to world affairs as it was during the cold war. Once revisionism has run its course, however, and once accommodations are made in its economic diplomacy, Japan will have cleared for itself a policy space in which it can be selectively pivotal in world affairs. It will have created security options for itself.
Japanese discourse is also, filled with contrasts between Washington's insistence on universal values (democracy. nonproliferation, human rights) and its support for dictators, its overthrow of foreign governments, its embrace of "friendly" nuclear states, and its use of torture. When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized the idea of an East Asian community in March 2005 in Tokyo by insisting that "instead of an exclusive club of powers, we stand for a community open to all," it did not go unnoticed that the United States, Mexico, and Canada operate a closed North American free trade area back home. (International Herald Tribune, 16 December 2005.)
A century before Washington first loomed as the deus ex machina in Japan's security drama, vulnerability had already become deeply etched in Japanese debate. The persistent sense of vulnerability is only one of the many elements of Japanese strategic culture we explained in P.1. A continental strategy or a maritime one? Strength or wealth? Asia or Europe? A great power or a lesser power? All of these questions have been fixtures of Japan's security discourse since the creation of the Meiji state. In every decade since the late nineteenth century Big Japanists have squared off against Small Japanists and autonomists have denounced internationalists. The Yoshida-Kishi debate of the 1950S echoed-and reversed the outcome of-the Shidehara-Ishibashi debate of the 1920s. It also anticipated the Abe-Ozawa clash of the mid-2000s. Sometimes political battles solve problems and sometimes they create new ones, but they also reinforce values and create norms linked to national identity. The challenge for analysts of security policy is to understand how these norms and identities matter-and when they change. And such collectively held understandings of social life and national aspiration are not bequeathed by history but forged and reforged in the crucible of political debate. And we have seen how political entrepreneurs have used these understandings to sell their own preferences. The preferences of particular entrepreneurs have prevailed and became national-at least until world order shifts, challenging the consensus and giving way to new debate. Indeed, the most striking continuity in the history of modern Japanese security policy has been the consistency with which discourse and consensus have alternated as new world orders have come and gone. Values have endured sometimes as normative ends and sometimes as political utilities, each connected to a range of policy options in different global and regional contexts.
Two in particular-autonomy and prestige-have been ubiquitous. Each one, sometimes invoked in efforts to make Japan rich and at other times in efforts to make Japan strong, has been reinforced in multiple contexts. Sometimes they frame the essential elements of what Japan's grand strategy ought to be. Kanehara Nobukatsu, the political minister at the Japanese embassy in Washington, explained in 2006 that Japan must remake its strategy from one characterized by passive pacifism (ukemi no heiwashugi) to one of active pacifism. Japan, he insists, must transform itself from an economic superpower to a political superpower in order to gain the respect (sonkei) of the rest of the world, and it must do so on its own terms and at its own pace (jibun de kangaete, jibun de ugoku). Others echo this position in calls for Japan to be a responsible nation rather than merely a ‘normal’ one. Japan has transformed itself from a peace-loving into a "peace-supporting" state, but now it must become a ‘peacemaking’ one if it is to realize its proper place in world affairs. Others argue that Japan should support the United States but also should make independent decisions and display its own style of leadership. In his inaugural policy address to the Diet in September 2006, Abe Shinzo argued that Japan must be ‘trusted, respected, and loved in the world.’ Because these values are ubiquitous, their proponents are preaching to the choir. Prestige-comprising strength and wealth-has long been essential to security planners. Consider how the loss of prestige, measured through the humiliation of checkbook diplomacy, has been used to frame Japan's disappointing response to the Gulf War and to justify subsequent prodigious efforts to enhance Japan's global peacekeeping role in Iraq. Likewise, as the terrr, "sympathy budget" (omoiyari yosan) suggests, prestige has been invoked to justify both increases in and reduction of host nation support for U.S. forces stationed in Japan. Prestige has also been used to reinterpret restrictions on the use of force so that Japanese forces do not have to be protected by foreign troops when they are on peacekeeping missions abroad. According to Prime Minister Abe, equality will be achieved by the exercise of collective self-defense.
Autonomy looms just as large and is just as uncontested. As we have seen, businessmen, politicians, and the media refer routinely to the strategic importance of rising sun (hinomaru) projects-liquid crystal display factories, jet fighters, satellite imagery, and oil exploration are all valued more highly to the extent they can reduce foreign dependence. The most compelling argument for revision of the constitution-a matter that never had as much traction as it has in the mid-2000s-is the chance for Japan to move beyond what the United States imposed after 1945. An unnamed GSDF officer expressed the concerns of many when he argued that "if we simply get onto the rails laid by the U.S. military, we will merely be their subcontractor." The strategic dangers involved are explored in a 2004 report of the Japan Forum on International Relations, which concludes that "Japan should from this moment onward have its own security policy as an independent nation. Its president insists that Japan needs to navigate between" declining American power and growing Chinese strength [to avoid] subservience [to either]." (Asahi Shimbun, 19 February 2006.)
Indeed, the return of full sovereignty looms over all discussions of u.s. bases in Japan, even if open bilateral discussion of the need for a new status of forces agreement-and for a new, more equitable security treaty-are still avoided. The center-left Asahi Shimbun editorializes that Japan needs to free itself from "excessive dependence" on the United States if it is to repair relationships with the rest of Asia, and the influential center-right monthly Bungei Shunju strikes exactly the same chord by insisting that "Japan needs to plan for its own defense [because] it may no longer make sense to follow the teacher's instructions." (Asahi Shimbun, 1 January 2006.)
Whether Japan was governed by oligarchs or by democrats, its strategists weighed their options with reference to autonomy and prestige. Both continue to be legitimate values available to leaders with widely divergent preferences. As a result, analyses of Japanese security policy must incorporate. Values matter, but they do not determine policies. They inform policies through a political process in which majorities shift and ruling coalitions have to be reconstructed in often fickle contexts. Thus, even when Japan's leaders were at their most reckless, the process by which they deployed these values in making strategic choices was rational. Even their greatest security miscalculations were filtered through, rather than bequeathed by, the legitimating ideals of Japan's strategic culture outlined inp.1, especially the ubiquitous sense of vulnerability and propensity to hedge. In short Japan's leaders, whether mainstream or antimainstream, have been persistent rather than "reluctant" realists.Insufficient attention to agency, unwarranted assumptions about the consensual nature of Japanese politics, and the underappreciation of the political process have resulted in observers missing some continuities in strategic culture. For example, by the 1990S many analysts were impressed with the persistence of pacifism in Japan's postwar security strategy. On this account, Japanese attitudes toward the use of force shifted after the devastation of the Pacific War and became institutionalized as the norm guiding strategic choice. In fact, however, pacifists assumed an important role in postwar Japan's security policy discourse, but they never dominated it. To the contrary, the pacifists were indulged. They were used by mainstream conservatives to consolidate the idea that prosperity was more important than strength. But whereas the pacifists sought to use prosperity to achieve autonomy, the calculating (and governing) mercantile realists of the Yoshida school used it to achieve prestige. This is why cheap-riding realism rather than pacifist idealism dominated Japanese grand strategy during the cold war.
The Yoshida Doctrine, Japan's postwar national security strategy, has been challenged by the confluence of fundamental shifts in world order and the emergence of a new conservative mainstream. Once again, domestic and international politics were rattling against one another. As a result, Japan finds itself in a historically familiar interregnum between broad consensuses on national strategy. We can be confident that enduring values will continue to be embedded in the political debate, just as we can be confident that a new consensus will emerge that fits Japanese strategy to the new regional and global context. We should not be surprised that this process will generate new security options for Japan-or that these options will have been strategically constructed. Let us turn to the context and the choices as we try to imagine the contours of Japan's emerging security consensus.
Rather than the prospect of Russian-speaking foreign troops landing on the archipelago, Japan now for example, faces Chinese submarines. So although U.S. bases in Japan have been identified as strategic hubs rather than tactical lily pads, it is not at all clear that this logic will prevail. As the bases become less significant, the United States is likely to ask Japan to add value in different ways-ways in which it may be loathe to contribute. Once this split becomes clear, the United States will begin to recalculate its guarantee of Japan's defense, which will force Japan to reconsider whether to pursue a security policy premised on U.S. protection.It ought to concern Japanese strategists that less than half the U.S. elites surveyed by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2005 named Japan as America's most important partner in Asia. (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 26 August 2005. )
More disconcerting than the absolute level (48%) was the fact that the number of respondents who identified Japan has dropped 17 points in the same year that the number who identified China rose by 14 points to 38%.) Nor should they ignore the 2004 survey in which 40 percent of U.s. elites expressed opposition to the long-term stationing of U.S. forces in Japan. (Asahi Shimbun, 30 September 2004.)
Some in the Pentagon also seem to be responding to the suggestion that alliances, too, may have seen their day. Flexible coalitions of the willing loosely integrated networks of overlapping partnerships-may yet prove more effective than top-heavy and diplomatically expensive formal alliances. This sort of open security architecture, in which webs replace hubs and spokes, threatens to raise the costs Japan bears for the provision of its own security. Limited abandonment also promises to reduce the chance of entanglement for both sides. For the United States, it reduces (albeit slightly) the risk that it might be dragged into a dispute between Japan and China over territory or seabed resources. For Japan, it increases the legitimacy of opting out of U.S. missions that it deems are not in its national- interest. The United States and Japan may remain tied diplomatically, economically, ideologically, as well as by many common strategic interests, but the formal alliance could become less constricting. Setting aside the jingoism and hype, all we can say with certainty about the future of the alliance is that it will be more fluid over the next two decades than at any time in its existence, and that its future will continue to be guided by strategic choices made in Tokyo as well as in Washington. Given these changes in the strategic context and the challenge they represent for Japan, what should we expect Japan to do? Japan has four nominal choices consistent with its enduring values. It can achieve prestige by increasing national strength. This, of course, is the path Japan is already pressure for the elimination of U.S. bases in Japan and will enhance the prospect of abandonment by Washington. It will also accelerate the security dilemma already under way in Northeast Asia.
Another choice, the one preferred by the middle power internationalists, is to achieve prestige by increasing prosperity and reducing Japan's exposure in world politics. This requires turning back the clock and reversing some of the more audacious assaults on the Yoshida Doctrine. Japan would once again eschew the military shield in favor of the mercantile sword. It would bulk up Japan's considerable soft power in a concerted effort to knit East Asia together without generating new threats or becoming vulnerable. The Asianists in this group would aggressively embrace regional economic institutions to reduce Japan's reliance on the U.S. market. They would not abrogate the military alliance, but they would resist U.S. exhortations for Japan to expand its roles and missions. The mercantile realists in this group would support the establishment of more open regional economic institutions as a means to reduce the likelihood of abandonment by the United States, and they would seek to maintain America's protective embrace as cheaply and for as long as possible.The final, least likely, choice is to achieve autonomy through prosperity. This is the choice of the pacifists, many of whom today are active in civil society through NGOs that are not affiliated with traditional political parties. Like the mercantile realists, they would reduce Japan's military posture-possibly even eliminate it. But unlike the mercantile realists, they reject the alliance as dangerously entangling. They would eschew hard power for soft power and campaign to establish Northeast Asia as a nuclear-free zone, ex-'pand the defensive defense’ concept to the region as a whole, negotiate a region-wide missile control regime, and rely on the ASEAN Regional Forum for security. (These plans are laid out by one such group, Peace Depot, at http://www.peacedepot.org/e-news/frame.html.)
Their manifest problem is that the Japanese public is unmoved by these prescriptions. Antiwar rallies no longer attract large numbers and political parties that oppose a robust defense no longer attract many voters. Pacifist ideas about prosperity and autonomy seem relics of an earlier, more idealistic time when Japan could not imagine, much less openly plan for, military contingencies.Yet each of these choices is consistent with Japan's national values and strategic culture as they have developed during the past century and a half. It is possible that one will prevail, but none alone seems fully plausible as the basis for a post-Yoshida consensus. One reason is that the Yoshida Doctrine has been institutionalized in ways that make sharp discontinuity less likely than continued, incremental change. Budgeting may be the best example. As we have seen, Japan's postwar defense posture was determined by a fiscal logic as well as by a strategic one. Yoshida's cheap-riding realism required low military budgets and sustained resistance to the demands of both the United States and an ambitious domestic defense industry. Despite decades of salami slicing that expanded roles and missions, cheap-riding realism remains a stubborn fact of life. After 1976, when the first NDPO was issued-and even after 1995, when the alliance was reaffirmed in the second NDPO and Japan committed to a greater role-the numbers of Japanese ground troops, surface ships, and fighters were all reduced. In 2004, defense spending was 6 percent of the general account budget, lower than the 8.2 percent level of 1965. MOF budget officers refused JDA requests for manpower increases and required each service branch to submit a list of "cold war-oriented" equipment to be eliminated. (Nihon Keizai shimbun, 2 November 2004; Yomiuri Shim bun, 1 November 2004.)
Likewise, the 2004 National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) calls for a 12 percent reduction in MSDF ships and planes, even though the MSDF is now patrolling six thousand nautical miles out and the government has committed to missile defense and antipiracy roles. The decision to bulk up and further militarize Japan's off-budget coast guard only partly reconciles the mismatch between the government's stated goals and its willingness to pay for their realization. Nor will a separate budget to subsidize the realignment with U.s. forces, as preferred by the MOD, bring Japanese defense spending up to "normal" levels, especially if, as expected, Japan continues to reduce host nation support. "Deteriorating fiscal conditions" are repeatedly mentioned in the 2004 NDPG, which insists that Japan can build a "state of the art" military "without expanding its size," and that it has to do so "with the limited resources that are available."( National Defense Program Guidelines (provisional translation) 2004, 5-6.)
Future salami slices may push Japan over the edge of its tacit 1 percent of GDP cap-which was, after all, supposed to be temporary and Which has once been exceeded-but changes to date have not done so. To the contrary, defense budgets have not gone up or down by more than 0.5 percent since 1997, and they have been effectively flat since 1994, actually declining in nominal and real terms. Defense buildups that might otherwise have proceeded without restriction, and that seemed to have the approval of the Cabinet Office, have been effectively contained. In 2007, the defense budget was reduced for the fifth year in a row. (Mainichi shimbun, 20 July 2006.)
Barring a dramatic and unforeseen shift in the world order, Japan will continue to enjoy its cheap ride, something even the revisionists have not seemed eager to change. While these normal nationalists have been consolidating their power, there are several additional reasons why we should not expect the preferences of any single group to prevail for long. First, Japan is a robust democracy, and democracies tend to self-correct for policy excesses. Although much maligned by analysts and participants alike, the Japanese political process has never been more transparent and has never engaged the public more fully than it does today. In particular, there are two important criticisms of the democratic process that no longer seem apt. The first is that politicians have ceded civilian control of the military to bureaucrats with a resulting lack of democratic accountability. Although Prime Minister Yoshida designed the JOA to be dominated by bureaucrats from other ministries, politicians never ceded their authority. Councilors (sanjikan) seconded from other parts of Japan's elite civil service were always influential but never fully autonomous. Well before it became a full-fledged ministry in 2007, the MOD was a policy agency, having grown its own elite civil servants under the control of the LOP. Likewise, when politicians needed a congenial ruling from the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, they got one. When politicians needed to circumvent CLB interpretations, they did so. As former JOA director general Ishiba points out in his memoirs, civilian control works only when politicians understand military issues. Today, elected representatives understand strategic issues better than at any time since the 1950s. Japanese voters, through their elected representatives, may not be more engaged in the minutiae of policy than, say, U.S. voters, but they certainly are no less so. They are not likely to reward their leaders for excessive tilts in one direction or another for long. And, as we have repeatedly seen, their leaders-even the revisionists in power today-have always been remarkably pragmatic. The second criticism of Japanese democracy is that there has been no alternation in power and that therefore the security policy process has failed to express the preferences of large numbers of Japanese voters. We have seen that this, too, is a mistaken view of Japan's highly contested democratic polity. The internal dynamics of the LOP-pitting mainstream pragmatists against revisionist conservatives since the early 1950s-never abated. Instead, the former group reached out to find common cause with the pacifists in the 1950s and 1960s, and pragmatists and revisionists competed for (and alternated in) power along the way. After 2000, when Koizumi Junichiro became prime minister-and after he was succeeded in 2006 by Abe Shinzo-it seemed that the revisionists had finally consolidated power. And the transformations in Japanese security policy that they prosecuted were accompanied by shifts in popular opinion on such issues as the legitimacy of the SOF, its overseas deployment, and revision of the constitution itself. Even at that point, however, the LOP secretary general, Abe's handpicked aide-Nakagawa Hidenao-declared his intent to erase the strong conservative image of the Abe administration and be "more considerate to those on the left." (sankei shimbun, 9 November 2006.)
The LOP leadership knows as well as anyone that no group has a lock on the Japanese electorate. Democracy is functioning well in Japan. Indeed, this suggests a further reason why we should not expect the security preferences of any single faction to prevail for long. Specifically, the normal nation-alists and the middle power internationalists-the two a market for goods and services will be reflected in the extent to the China threat gives way to a China opportunity. Although the n of those surveyed by the Yomiuri Shimbun in December 2003 thou United States was Japan's most important political partner, an equalr (53%) believed that China was Japan's most important economic pal
Finally, any overt sign of Japanese ambitions for great power and a full security autonomy is bound to stimulate balancing beha Japan's neighbors and, undoubtedly, opposition from the United States as well. Japan suffers from what Ohtomo Takafumi has aptly identifiel "sheep in wolf's clothing" problem. As he notes, it takes a very long time of good behavior to overcome the distrust of other states, and Jal not gone nearly far enough to merit the trust of its neighbors. It still has a bad reputation in East Asia. Although the Chinese and the Korea reached agreement on the language of history textbooks, Japan neighbors have found it impossible to agree on a common narrative the Pacific War. Japan's unwillingness or inability to confront its history undoubtedly the largest single constraint on its soft power. These several elements in Japan's strategic context-institutional the dynamics of democratic competition, pragmatism, concern al: future of U.S. power, and shifting regional balances of power-con make Japan's strategic adjustment seem over-determined. If not a path toward Japanese muscularity, then what? The evidence here is one that positions Japan not too close too far from the hegemonic-protector, that makes it stronger but not threatening, and that provides new and comprehensive security options.
Hedging is a fundamental principle of any realist grand strategy, especially for midsized powers. As Ronald Reagan's famous dictum "trust bu indicates, ensuring against risk is hardly unique to Japan. Given the ( geopolitical location and late development, it is no surprise that has long been an arrow in Tokyo's strategic quiver. Few prewar· were prepared to pursue either cooperation with the West or autar exclusion of the other. In the postwar period, Japan's first order ness was to consolidate its alliance with the United States, and it was to make that relationship as unprovocative as possible to Soviet Union. Despite explicit requirements to do so, for example, Tokyo its ban on collective self-defense and refused to share information about Soviet practice bombing runs on U.S. bases in Japan during the cold war. (Prime Minister's Commission on Japan's Goals 2000, 2.)
Japan could use regional and bilateral preferential trade agreements to hedge against U.S. and European predation, as well as to hedge against the possibility of Chinese economic dominance and to enhance its smooth integration. Elements of this dual hedge were central features of the Yoshida Doctrine from the very beginning. Japanese-Chinese trade never disappeared during the Korean War, when U.S. forces were fighting Chinese troops on the peninsula and stimulating the Japanese economy with procurements. Tokyo and Beijing even signed a private trade agreement in 1952, immediately after the armistice. As Akira Iriye notes: "China was an important market and Japanese leaders had no intention of giving it up just because they placed their country in the U.S. camp in the Cold War. Japan indulged China throughout the cold war, seeking to integrate it as smoothly as possible into the world trading system without alienating the United States. Tokyo provided considerable development assistance, even though its own rules prohibited aid to states that produce weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Japan was faster than any other county to repair relations with China after the Tiananmen incident in 1989. Within little more than three months, a group from Keidanren was in Beijing exploring ways to enhance economic ties. By 200}, it has been reported, the economic dimension of the China threat was no longer a struggle between China and Japan for leadership of Asia, but one between the United States and Europe on the one hand and Japan on the other over who gets access to the China market. Even Abe Shinzo calls for a "separation of politics and economics" (seikei bunri no gensoku) to stabilize Sino-Japanese relations. A fully institutionalized East Asian community combined with a globalized U.S.-Japan alliance-what the MOD's National Institute for Defence Studies has called ‘strategic convergence’ -would constitute a considerably more robust security arrangement for Japan than the Yoshida Doctrine could provide. (National Institute for Defense Studies 2005, 8, 35-36. Yomiuri Shimbun, 19 April 2006.)
Japan could help create prosperity in China while relying on the United States to help check the Chinese military. It could build prosperity without undermining security. It could have its pacifist cake and eat it too. But why would the United States continue to guarantee Japanese security if it is kept at arm's length from the economic dynamism of the region? The challenge for Japanese diplomats and strategists is to make strategic convergence acceptable to the United States and attractive to China. There are no guarantees, and hedging is always fraught with danger. But the hope is that the United States will respond positively as long as the new economic architecture is built on a liberal vision. Universal principles of human rights and democracy will have to be showcased, ‘Asian values’ suppressed. The regional identity that such an arrangement would generate will have to be flexible and accessible rather than rigid or exclusive.During Diet interpellations in January 2006, for example, Prime Minister Koizumi affirmed pacifism as "the basic philosophy of our constitution [that] we must firmly maintain in the future as well.” (Mainichi shimbun, 25 January 2006.)
Meanwhile, when he was deputy chief cabinet Secretary in 2003, Abe Shinzo insisted that "while it is vital to maintain a relationship of trust with the United States, maintaining trust and being at its beck and call are two different things."If the alliance were more equal, Japan would be better positioned to "speak out" more vigorously to the United States.( Shilkan Posuto, 25 April 2003, 44.) In fact, in early 2007 Prime Minister Abe visited the major nations of the European community "to add a new diplomatic axis" and to shift from [Japan's] U.S.-centered policies.” (Mainichi Shimbun, 3 January 2007, and Asahi Shimbun, 11 January 2007.)
Here we have Japan's leading revisionist genuflecting toward pacifist values and his successor genuflecting toward autonomy, evidence that the final shape of Japan's new security consensus is still up for grabs. Meanwhile, even some of the most enthusiastic supporters of the alliance insist that Japan must leave room for independent action on matters of vital national interest, such as access to Middle Eastern oi1. Not surprisingly, the Japanese government has retained opt out clauses in its tilt toward globalizing the alliance. Missions have been authorized through temporary special measures laws with sunset clauses, its forces were dispatched to noncombat zones, and if Japan does not deem there to be a sufficient situational need in a regional contingency, then it can define this as outside the scope of the alliance guidelines and exercise the option not to support the United States. Its willingness to jointly develop and deploy missile defense and to move toward an integrated command-and-control structure with U.S. forces make it clear that Japan has lost some of its fear of entrapment. But it has not abandoned pragmatism altogether. Its close hug of the United States is not debilitating but, rather, is generating options for national security that may render Japan stronger and more independent.These new options normally are couched in terms of the additional muscle Japan must provide for the United States. But there are many other ways to think about the future. If Tokyo is diplomatically competent, its newly acquired strength and confidence could make it more attractive to other potential security partners in the region, such as India and the ASEAN states. Ishiba Shigeru has made this point by deftly shifting the conventional argument for collective self-defense. In addition to making Japan a more attractive partner for the United States, he insists, collective self-defense will also enable Japan to assist ASEAN states if they are threatened by China. First, of course, Tokyo will need to reassure its neighbors and avoid isolation, which is why a continued tether to the United States makes sense. Some have even suggested that by enhancing its role in the alliance, Japan could become the cork in the American bottle.These shifts await a skilled consensus builder, someone who will see new possibilities for Japanese security and can soften the harder edges of the contemporary discourse by recombining values and options. Such leaders reside in each corner of Japan's strategic discourse. On becoming head of the Democratic Party of Japan in early 2006, Ozawa Ichiro, the godfather of normal nationalism, lost no time in criticizing Prime Minister Koizumi for visiting Yasukuni Shrine and for tilting too far in favor of the United States. Sounding like Goldilocks herself trying to get things just right, Ozawa insisted that Japan needs to mend its relationships with Asia and that it must distance itself from the "hegemonic tendencies" of both China and the United States. (Asahi Shimbun, 11 April 2006; Mainichi Shimbun, 15 April 2006; Nihon Keizai Shimbun,s June 2006; Mainichi Shimbun, 13 July 2006.)
Abe, for his part, could begin to deemphasize Japan's military power and stress Japan's soft power advantages over China, including its democratic political system and its protection of human rights and political liberty. And, indeed, in the same week he visited Europe to stake out his independence from the United States, he joined Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and ROK president Roh Moo-Hyun for the first trilateral "Plus-3" summit in two years. Even neo-autonomists such as Nakanishi Terumasa have voiced limited support for the U.s.-Japan alliance, and Terashima Jitsuro has written about "how to be pro-American and part of Asia at the same time.” Mercantile realists who already argue for improved ties with China would have to accede to the idea that a stronger Japan is here to stay. But, if the 2001 conversion of their mentor, Miyazawa Kiichi, is any indication, this journey should not be too far to travel. Moreover, once-confirmed pacifists such as Kan Naoto have already migrated to a more central position.Although we cannot identify with certainty the Japanese leaders with whom the new security consensus will be identified, we can expect them to be conservative and to be committed democrats with independent, full-throated voices on security issues. They will not lead Japan too far toward great power status and abandonment nor allow it to remain so dependent on the United States as to risk further entanglement. They will abandon cheap-riding realism and consolidate the military gains of the revisionists' tight embrace of the United States, but they will not allow that embrace to drag Japan into undesirable territory. In short, they will appreciate that the costs of remaining a U.S. ally-still Japan's most attractive option-are escalating but will not allow them to become too great to bear. Rather than expect Japan's continued migration from the status quo as a junior partner or "poodle" toward greater symmetry (including joint war fighting and "joint management of American hegemony"), we should instead expect the new security discourse to resolve itself in the form of a fuller maturation of Japan's dual hedge. (National Institute for Defense Studies, 22 August 2005. "Joint management of U.S. hegemony”)
Washington understands that Tokyo will work hard to reconcile its Asian diplomacy and economic interests with its global diplomacy and military interests. It knows that its friends in Japan's military establishment are doing rhetorical battle with those in the economic establishment who are less convinced of the value of the globalized alliance. Thus, recent agreements on alliance transformation notwithstanding, it is by no means a foregone conclusion that either Japan or the United States will continue to see an enhanced, militarized alliance as its best choice. Having examined Japanese strategic options, then, it is useful to glance at those of the United States as well. It is of vital importance to the United States that China become a great power without alarming Japan and its other neighbors. Not everyone appreciates this necessity, however. Some in Washington believe that an alarmed Japan is an allied Japan. They have used the yearnings of Japan's revisionists to divide East Asia and to position Japan in balancing against China's rise. They warn that China will try to drive a wedge between Japan and the United States. (Aaron Friedberg, former deputy assistant for national security affairs and director of policy planning in the Office of the Vice President, and by Torkel Patterson, former senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, in their speeches to the American Enterprise Institute conference "Transforming the U.S.-Japan Alliance," Tokyo, 25 October 2005.)
When Japan suggested that China be included in the Proliferation Security Initiative, the U.s. vetoed the idea. The Bush administration refused to intervene in the controversies over Japanese historical revisionism or prime ministerial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, insisting that Beijing not be allowed to see any daylight between Washington and Tokyo. Even as they assemble ad hoc coalitions of the willing, U.S. officials insist that bilateral alliances must remain the backbone of security in the region, and point to the success of the 2+2 realignment process and the bilateral embrace of common strategic interests as evidence that Japan agrees. (Speech by John D. Hill, regional director for Northeast Asia, at the Center for Global Partnership conference "Non-Traditional Security," 19 July 2005, Tokyo.)
But many in Japan do not. Some see this as divide and conquer, and urge the government not to collude with a suboptimal strategy. A Sino-Japanese rapprochement may be Washington's nightmare, they say, but it would be of incalculable benefit to both sides, to the region as a whole, and even to the United States. Many Americans also believe this. Some welcome stable Sino-Japanese relations for their own sake, as a means toward the deep reconciliation that has eluded the region since the Pacific War. Others, worried that Sino-Japanese tensions could reverse the possibility of entrapment, urge Tokyo and Beijing to reduce the temperature in their overheating relationship. In this view, the United States needs to avoid getting entangled in Japan's conflicts (Senkaku Islands, Yasukuni, textbooks) just as much as Japan needs to avoid being entrapped in American ones. If Japan strays from a pragmatic path, it risks losing the support of the United States. Indeed, the United States may decide-independent of Japanese hedging and despite its geostrategic attractions-that the formal alliance is too great a burden for too limited a gain. Should it replace the alliance with a less constraining alignment, Japan and other regional actors will have to increase their level of self-help. (Washington Post, 7 September 2005.)
Such an outcome would place Japan in dangerous new territory, requiring greater diplomatic skills than it has displayed to date. But it seems far more likely that Japan will choose to self-insure.
When it does, and even before it does, the construction of a new multilateral security regime may prove to be the most effective option for the United States. One template for this new architecture, would be to use the six-party talks on the future of the Korean Peninsula as a springboard for a Northeast Asia security talk shop that might mirror the Asian Regional Forum in Southeast Asia. The advantages of multilateralism in the context of Chinese-Japanese competition for leadership are manifold. First, it would provide a broader and more stable infrastructure than the patron-client hierarchies that characterize the current hubs and spokes. The possibilities for transparency-a requirement for averting a debilitating regional security dilemma-would be multiplied, albeit not guaranteed. Second, as in Europe, where multilateralism has had a longer and more stable run, it would give Japan and the other states in the region a larger stake in the construction of their own future, a development that surely would enhance the standing of the United States in the region as well. Third, it would reduce the considerable costs to Washington of supplying the regional public good of security. Should Washington elect to become the engaged, albeit distant, balancer on the European model, it would be more likely to enjoy the benefits of regional economic prosperity while avoiding excessive entanglement at a time when its power is in relative decline.
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