The research project investigates the causes of change in Japanese security policy between the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. The basic premise is that Japan’s post-Cold War security policy displays significant changes compared to the Cold War period. One critical change has been the incorporation of the military as a legitimate and important tool of Japanese post-Cold War security policy practice. The Japanese military, known as the Self-Defence Force (SDF), has developed new roles both outside and within the US-Japan alliance to contribute to regional/international security. The question asked in this research is how has the Japanese security policymaking elite been able to bring about this critical change to the security policy practice in light of the domestic social and legal constraints that have traditionally prevented the expansion of Japan’s security role, in military terms, in regional and international affairs. The extant literature has attributed this change to the international structural shift (Cold War to post-Cold War) and a range of causes at the domestic level, for example, changes in Japanese domestic politics, Japan’s economic stagnation and generational shift in Japanese society. Though useful, these explanations are not sufficiently determinate and failed to take into account the domestic processes that have facilitated the shift in Japanese security policy practice. This research introduces proposes the introduction of another key factor – external military crises. It argues that the Japanese security policymaking elite successfully expanded the security policy by relying on the external military crises of the post-Cold War period. The security policymaking elite constructed or inflated elements of threat from an external military crisis as directly affecting both the international environment and Japan’s national security. This process allowed the security policymaking elite to circumvent the social and legal limitations and fulfil its role of a responsible and engaged actor in regional/international security. This study will focus on Japan’s responses to five main crises: 1990-1 Persian Gulf War, 1994 North Korean Nuclear Crisis, 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis; 1998 Taepodong Crisis, and 2001 September 11 attacks that led to the global war on terror.
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