The presentation examines Japan's security policy in terms of the rising activism after the Cold War. In contrast with the persistent reluctance to be involved in military affairs after the defeat of 1945, Japan has become more willing to use its armed forces, or Self Defence Forces (SDF), in the post-Cold War era. Today, the SDF participate in UN peacekeeping operations and take responsibility not only for the Northeast Asian regional stability but, in partnership with US forces, also for global security issues. Why has such a tremendous turn in the course of security policy been possible? Why has Japan become more willing to activate the role of its armed forces in the midst of economic recession? Why has the Japanese attitude become ever more encouraging while the Japanese forces have assumed more and more active roles? The presentation tackles these questions, paying special attention to ideational factors as well as material causations.
My thesis focuses on the change of the "military norm," that is, a social standard that tells a state to use (or not to use) military power both at international and domestic levels. I argue that since the end of the Cold of War activsm has emerged in Japan's securiy policy because the military norm in the nation has shifted from a negative (prohibiting) to a positive (encouraging) direction.
Hiromi Nagata is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at SOAS, London University, and currently lives in Tokyo.