Japan’s Security Evolution

March 29, 2016

In 2015 Japan passed landmark reforms of its national security laws, including a reinterpretation of its constitutional prohibition against collective security activities. Now Japan can legally cooperate with the United States in defensive military operations, leading many observers to declare that Japan has abandoned its post–World War II “pacifist principles.”

Are such pronouncements correct? Or are the national security reforms simply the most recent recalibration of Japan’s postwar grand strategy? In her new analysis, Jennifer Lind argues the latter, stating that cries of “Japan is abandoning pacifism” are not only misleading, but distort the magnitude of recent changes. According to Lind, while Japan prefers to buck-pass to the United States, it has historically accepted more responsibility in the alliance when its threat environment grows increasingly dangerous and uncertainty exists about the U.S. commitment.

But what are the implications for U.S. security of a more assertive Japan? And does Japan’s acceptance of more responsibility suggest that other U.S. allies would act accordingly if Washington were to step back? Lind along with a distinguished panel will discuss these and other important questions.

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