Japan's Security Interests, Policy, and Implementation

Date of Graduation

Spring 1997


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


Japan's search for security in the post-World War II era has been a history of struggle with both internal and external influences. Represented by its post-war peace constitution, Japan's security ideology itself places Tokyo in a vulnerable position to take initiatives that serves its own security interests. Japan's self-imposed political and psychological restraints, deriving from its historical experience, limit Japan's ability to establish effective means to implement its international security objectives. While Tokyo has enjoyed the U.S. security umbrella based on their security alliance relationship, the changing security environment in the East Asian-Pacific region and shifts in both Tokyo's and Washington's perception of each other have challenged Japan. Although Japan's defense capability has been accumulated during the Cold War era, it is yet incomprehensive and incapable of protecting Japan's security interests without U.S. support. Tokyo is still hesitant to buildup its Self-Defense Forces and to act independently, while it has begun to fear a future U.S. policy shift and the People's Republic of China's assertive military actions, both of which will have crucial impacts on Japan's security future. Moreover, as represented by the increasing nuclear threat from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the security environment in the region is by no means in favor of Japan. Should Japan dramatically shift its traditional reactive defense policy, the key determinants for Tokyo's decision will be both the United States and China.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Isoko Sunakawa