Changes in Japan’s Foreign and Security Policy Associate Professor Marie Söderberg, European Institute of Japanese Studies
At the moment, very substantial reforms in the field of security are being undertaken in Japan. “The New National Defence Program Guidelines for 2005 and After”, as well as the “Midterm Defence Program Fiscal Year 2005-2009” both talk about a thorough restructuring of the Self Defence Forces to make them able to respond effectively to new threats, such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, as well as provide a more proactive Japanese policy with various initiatives to improve the international security environment. There is a definite strengthening of the Japanese-US security relation, where Japan is being asked to and is willing to take a bigger role. The declaration by North Korea that they now possess nuclear weapons is considered an imminent threat to Japan. This, in connection with the abduction issue (see below) is played up in Japanese mass media and is being used by certain groups to create changes in Japan’s defence posture. These are changes that the Japanese consider necessary to counter the larger threat in the long term, the rise of China. This paper will start with a short historic overview of the Japanese defence posture since World War II and give a short presentation of the kinds of threats Japan feels it is facing since September 11, 2001, and in the future. Then we will continue with Japanese-North Korean relations, and Japanese-Chinese relations. The recent strengthening of the Japanese-US security cooperation, and its implications for Japanese defence posture, as well as regional cooperation, will be covered. We will conclude with what these changes imply for Europe, as well as the role Europe could play in securing peace and stability in Asia.
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