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Global Security Watch Japan

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Excerpt from Global Security Watch Japan, by Andrew L. Oros and Yuki Tatsumi (Praeger, September 2010).

Japan faces no shortage of substantial security challenges today. Its neighborhood is characterized by tense standoffs over the divided states of China/Taiwan and North/South Korea, increasing arms spending and arms build-ups, nuclear proliferation, long-standing and sometimes bitter territorial disputes among many states, Islamic-related terrorist activity in a number of Southeast Asian states that stands to jeopardize important shipping routes, and widespread concerns over the “rise” of China. Japanese security practices have naturally been evolving to respond to these threats, including in some ways that outside observers find surprising, such as increased military capabilities in some areas (surveillance satellites, ballistic missile defense, mid-air aircraft refueling), the creation of a full-fledged Ministry of Defense (MOD), and limited dispatch of Japan’s “self-defense forces” (JSDF) abroad (though only in non-combat roles.

This volume seeks to provide a broad overview of Japan’s security policies and military capabilities as it faces a new era. In order to do this, several historical factors must also be considered further, including the security alliance with the United States, the postwar constitution, and Japan’s evolving relations with the neighbors it occupied under Imperial rule. The interplay between the historical evolution of Japan’s security policies and its current capabilities will be a central theme of this volume. Another theme will be the uncertainty under which Japanese leaders have sought to re-craft Japan’s security policies in the past decade, and the continuing uncertainty of how Japan’s security future will develop.

Although it may sound like a cliché, Japan today truly faces a crossroads in its security future. In the next year or two, many aspects of Japan’s security policies may change as a result of the new domestic political situation, combined with deepening demographic and economic challenges as well as tensions between at least two competing visions of Japan’s security future that have been evident in the past decade. Most likely, however, change in Japan’s security policies will develop within the fairly narrow band of options Japanese have been considering for at least a decade, though some of the choices may be different from those of the recent past.

About the Book

It’s been over half a century since most Americans considered Japan to be a country capable of presenting a military threat. In fact, Japan has been one of the top 10 military spenders worldwide for decades, and possesses one of the most capable and well-equipped military forces in the world—yet a widespread belief that Japan possesses no military forces persists.

2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, making Japan one of the United States’s longest and most important military allies. Over 40,000 US troops are based in Japan, as is the only U.S. aircraft carrier based outside the United States, the USS George Washington. Japan possesses one of the world’s largest economies and strongest military forces, and as a result, its national security policies and institutions are highly significant—not just to America, but to the rest of the global community as well.

This book provides an overview of Japan’s transformation into one of the world’s most capable military powers over the past 150 years. Particular attention is paid to developments in the past decade, such as the 2009 change in the controlling political party and Japan’s responses to new global security threats.

The book can be found through ABC-CLIO.

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