Revising the Guidelines for US-Japan Defense Cooperation

Sayaka Chatani
April 30, 2003


In the wake of the post-Cold War era, Japan faced a series of major challenges to its security policy. In the Gulf War, Japan’s huge economic contribution could neither win appreciation from Kuwait nor dilute criticism from other countries for not contributing military personnel. In East Asia, North Korea launched a Rodong missile in Japan’s own backyard and declared its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1993. In 1994, North Korea rejected IAEA inspection and began drawing fuel from its nuclear reactors. The US called for economic sanctions and blockades against North Korea to manage this crisis, and even considered a preemptive air strike. In 1996, tensions in the Taiwan Strait heightened when China conducted massive military exercises near Taiwan, and in response the US deployed two aircraft careers in the strait.

Facing these challenges, Japanese people inevitably started to engage in political debates over Japanese security policy. Those arguments included whether Japan should take a more active role in global security and pursue a more independent foreign policy from the US, whether Japan should change its stance toward the right of collective security, and whether the constitution should be amended. A review of Japan’s defense policy and strategy was conducted by the Advisory Group on Defense Issues for Prime Minister Hosokawa, which submitted a report “The Modality of the Security and Defense Capability of Japan: the Outlook for the 21st Century” to Prime Minister Murayama in 1994.

The US also had been facing the need to formulate a new strategy to manage security challenges in the post-Cold War world. Domestically, growing concerns over the bad economy fostered mistrust and fear towards Japan. There was a huge divide in academic and political debates over US security policy in the Asia-Pacific region between those who support the continuous forward presence in East Asia, and those who advocate the retreat from Japan.

The two governments chose to strengthen bilateral security ties between them despite of, or as a result of, such debates. Beginning with the ‘Nye Initiative,’ which emphasized the importance of the US forward presence in Asia and its alliance with Japan, Japan revised the National Defense Program Outline (NDPO), putting more emphasis on security cooperation with the US. President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto re-confirmed the importance of the US-Japan Security Treaty in the post-Cold War world in the US-Japan Joint Declaration on Security in 1996. Following that, the two governments approved the new Guidelines for US-Japan Defense Cooperation.

This paper will focus on two related questions regarding the strengthened US-Japan tie in the 1990s. What are strategic calculations of the US and Japan behind the re-strengthening of security ties? The North Korean nuclear crisis in 1994 seemingly initiated the series of re-confirmation of US-Japan security cooperation(1), I would like to go beyond a North Korea factor, and look at general strategic thoughts for the post-Cold War world that drove the two countries towards the revision of the guidelines.

Relating to the first question, Did the new guidelines change Japan’s military role and the nature of the Security Treaty? There are two competing perspectives towards the guidelines: Japan expanded its security and military role in the region through the revision of the guidelines; and the guidelines reinforced the limits on Japan’s military and security role. My argument is that Japan’s military role in the region has not significantly changed. I will also argue that the nature of the Security Treaty did not change since Japan d id not approve the right of collective defense despite significant pressures to approve it. Eventually, the revision of the Guidelines reflects the fact that Japan is still heavily constrained and cannot conduct any significant military activity despite the growing awareness that Japan should take more responsibility in international security issues.

(1)For example, Murata p.26, and Green (2000) p.244


Strategic Calculations of the United States

The main motivation of the US to re-confirm the security tie with Japan derives from its own strategic calculations. The main function of the treaty with Japan to contain the Soviet Union was no longer necessary as the Cold War ended. However, a cold war still remains in the Korean Peninsula, and there are other destabilizing factors in this region, such as the Taiwan issue and territorial disputes over small islands in the region.

The Gulf War and consequential strategic thinking made clear the importance and necessity of maintaining the security treaty with Japan despite the end of the Cold War. The Gulf War had a considerable influence on the strategic thinking of the US. First, it demonstrated that the US still faces military challenges in the post-Cold War era. As the National Security Strategy addresses, the Gulf War was “a forceful reminder that there are still autonomous sources of turbulence in the world.”(2) The US realized that it needs to keep sufficient and advanced military capability to deter or respond to those threats. Second, there was a growing fear that the post-Cold War era would become chaotic. Many argued that a new order in the post-Cold War era must be established.(3) With the self-recognition as “the only truly global strength,”(4) the US started regarding itself as responsible for formulating the new order. Third, the experience of the Gulf War confirmed that the Soviet (or Russia) no longer tries to oppose the US, but China still tries to keep a political leverage. China did not veto, but abstained on the Security Council Resolution 678, which allowed the multinational forces in the Middle East to use force against Iraq.(5)

The US National Security Strategy since the Gulf War reflects these considerations. First, US focus shifted from containment of the peer military rival to maintenance of regional stability. Second, the US started to prepare for two major theater wars (MTW). In this scenario, the US assumes that simultaneous occurrence of one major theater war in the Middle East, a war equivalent to Desert Storm, and another major theater war in the Korean Peninsula, a war equivalent to the Korean War. In preparation for this scenario, the US emphasizes not only the importance of maintaining a sufficient amount of military forces and highly advanced military capabilities, but also the forward military presence in key regions, and the cooperation of allied countries.(6)

The importance of US military presence in Japan was especially emphasized as their concern towards China grew. Their concern towards China reflects in the ‘Nye Report’ (or “East Asia Strategic Report”) of 1995, which put strong stress on the need to respond to China’s growing military power. Funahashi sees the ‘Nye Initiative’ as his proposal of ‘engagement policy’ toward China as a post-Cold War strategy of the US, in comparison to George Kennan’s Article X, which proposed ‘containment policy’ toward the Soviet Union in the beginning of the Cold War.(7)

The Gulf War and the North Korean crisis made the US aware that the operational aspects of the treaty were becoming increasingly important while deterrence and balancing of regional powers remained crucial. The US-Japan alliance was primarily a political alliance against the Communist bloc during the Cold War as Green argues,(8) and the political aspect remains essential in the context of ‘engagement’ in China. However, the crises in the early 1990s demonstrated that neither is the operational aspect of the Security Treaty strong enough to respond to unpredictable contingencies effectively, nor is Japan capable of making a political decision as quickly as it should be.(9)

The old guidelines adopted in 1978 stipulate that the US and Japan should conduct the study of contingency scenarios within and outside of Japan. However, it had been focusing mainly on scenarios of a contingency within the Japanese territories.(10) The crisis in North Korea in 1994 revealed the reality that a contingency occurring outside Japan was more likely than one within the Japanese territories.

Moreover, the war scenarios that the US prepared during the crisis showed how critical the lack of contingency studies was. The US prepared a contingency plan for bombing Yongbyon in case that North Korea would refuse to stop the operation of nuclear facilities there. The Pentagon shaped three war options, which ranged from the immediate dispatch of 2,000 troops to Korea to more serious preparations such as the deployment of tens of thousands of ground troops and massive combat air power.(11) In planning these options, the Pentagon faced two concerns according to Oberdorfer. The first one was the difficulty of calculating how Pyongyang might react. US officials knew neither Pyongyang’s nuclear intentions, nor how Pyongyang was gauging the political signals that the US had been sending. The other concern was the difficulty of calculating whether Japan would assist the US military, and if it would, how. US officials understood that Japan had still been mired in the constraints from the experience of the Gulf War. Let alone the rear area logistic support, they were anxious even about whether Japan would accept 80,000 American civilians who would need to be evacuated from Korea since Japan had not agreed to receive them.(12)

Thus, from a strategic viewpoint, the US needed to maintain the Security Treaty with Japan in order to maintain the forward presence of military forces in East Asia, and it was in its crucial interests to improve the operational capacity of the treaty and prepare for contingencies in a practical manner.

(2)The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States (1991)

(3)Owada, p.7

(4)The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States (1991)


(6)The White House, National Security Strategy for Enlargement and Engagement (1996)

(7)Funahashi p.29

(8)Green (1998), p.24

(9)See Giarra and Nagashima p.99

(10)Tanaka, p.344

(11)ibid., p.323-325

(12)ibid., p.325-326



US Domestic Concerns and Nye Initiative

Though the US had strategic interests in maintaining the Security Treaty, the main political trend and the pervading anti-Japanese sentiment did not make it easy to take such an approach.

Relations with Japan were weakening tremendously in the early 1990s. Trade frictions with Japan had been becoming severe since Japan became a global economic power in 1980s. As Clinton linked national security with economic issues and set the first priority of his agenda as economic and trade issues, the anti-Japanese atmosphere within the US government grew. Complaints about Japan’s trade policy led to an eruption of criticism toward Japan’s defense policy. The huge gap between what Japan is expected to provide in proportion to its national economic power and what Japan actually provides created distrust towards Japan among government officials and the public.(13) Especially because American people became “tired of the burdens of the Cold War and were looking forward to an elusive ‘peace dividend,’”(14) Japan’s reluctance and inability to cooperate in military activities in the Gulf War further deepened mistrust towards Japan.(15) According to a public opinion poll conducted in 1991, in response to the question of whether Japan is an ally that can be trusted militarily, 40.1% of American people answered that they did “not think so at all.”(16)

Some academic scholars, not only economists but also political scientists,(17) also argue that Japan would become strong enough to pose a threat to the US if the US continues to provide security protection to Japan. The extreme view of Friedman and LeBard demonstrates some were even fearful of Japan’s military capabilities.(18)

Tsuchiyama defined the Americans’ concerns over growing Japan as a “dilemma of prosperity,”(19) in which one country’s actions to pursue economic interests harm the other’s security interests. This dilemma had been growing and becoming more and more problematic since the public main concern over security issues had shifted from ‘strategies’ to ‘costs’.(20) To solve this dilemma, Nye and others who recognized the strategic importance of the bilateral treaty with Japan needed to somehow separate security issues from trade issues.(21) They also needed to show that the costs of maintaining a forward presence would be lower than those of retreating the military forces from Japan, and that Japan would share more in the burden. The Nye Initiative was presented to serve such political objectives and save the Security Treaty from other domestic interests.

Some argue that the Nye Initiative also tried to reverse a trend in Japanese politics that favored a multilateral approach and a foreign policy more independent from the US. They argue that in the eyes of Nye and other US officials who recognized the importance of the bilateral relations, the report submitted by the Advisory Group in 1994 put too much emphasis on multilateral security cooperation and peacekeeping operations of the United Nations,(22) even though the report did not dismiss the importance of the bilateral treaty.(23) There might be a fear that Japanese people were losing confidence in the US commitment to Japanese security in the course of ‘Japan bashing’ and ‘Japan passing’ by the US.

Thus, the objective of the Nye Initiative was to stop the spiral effects of mutual mistrust between Japan and the US. Nye’s intention was successfully served and he could initiate the step-by-step re-confirmation of the treaty by the two governments. Though the debate over the importance of the forward presence continued as represented by the debate between Chalmers Johnson and E. B. Keehn vs. Joseph Nye,(24) he successfully protected the treaty and re-strengthened the alliance. This trend was not reversed even after the Okinawa incident in which three American soldiers raped a twelve-year-old schoolgirl in 1995 led to huge protests against US military presence in Okinawa and to a strong anti-American sentiment in Japan.

(13)See Leitch, Kato and Weinstein, p.184

(14)Stokes, p.288

(15)Levin, p.213 “Already many in the United States have linked Japan’s minimal efforts in the gulf…toward festering trade disputes and resentments, a particularly volatile linkage given the current American emphases on “fairness,” “equity,” and the “sharing” of international security “burdens.””

(16)Nihon Keizai Shinbun, December 7, 1991, p.9

(17)For example, Calleo, Huntington, Wallerstein, Chalmers Johnson and Keehn

(18)See Friedman and LeBard

(19)Tsuchiyama, p.49

(20)Sato p.97

(21)See Funahashi

(22)See Mochizuki, or Zhang and Montaperto, pp.40-44

(23)See A. Watanabe

(24)Nye, and Johnson and Keehn


Strategic Calculations of Japan

As the Cold War ended, Japanese people further developed two expectations that had been growing during the Cold War era. The first expectation was that the United Nations would function more effectively in the post-Cold War era. We can find evidence in Japan’s Diplomatic Bluebooks that Japan was expecting that the UN would take more responsibility of implementing global-wide collective security.(25) The second expectation was that Japan would be able to continue contributing to global security by economic means instead of military forces. It is not surprising that the Japanese expected to see a world that puts less value on military power after the end of the Cold War in the same way as a lot of Americans did.

Japan was motivated to strengthen its ties with the US because these expectations were proven wrong through the Gulf War and the North Korean crisis. As for the first expectation in multilateralism, though it still maintains a strong affinity to the UN, Japan came to recognize the reality in which the UN still faces as many obstacles as it did during the Cold War era. Owada warns in a report edited by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that “[i]t is extremely perilous…to conclude that the age of the UN as a panacea for solving problems has dawned”(26) even though the UN seemed to function well in the Gulf War. Japan’s desire to create a multilateral institution for security cooperation in East Asia contributed to the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1994. However, the diverse backgrounds and interests of Asian countries and deep mistrust towards each other have been preventing ARF from growing to be an institution like the OSCE. The ineffectiveness of the multilateral approach became clear even to strong advocates of multilateralism when it could neither prevent nor respond effectively to the Korean crisis.

The other expectation that Japan could contribute to global security by economic contributions was soon deflated in the Gulf War. As Green argues, “[w]ith the end of the cold war, many in Japan expected to earn alliance partnership through international economic contributions, but the 1990-1991 Gulf War demonstrated that the United States and the world still measured security in the traditional currency of military force.”(27) From the painful experience of the Gulf War, Japan not only learned the necessity of contributing both by economic and military means, but also recognized the frustration of people in some foreign countries, especially in the US, about Japan’s ‘one country pacifism.’

In the meantime, Japan has had to manage the same threats as the US has in East Asia. There is a growing concern about China’s expanding military capabilities since the 1980s. Vice Director General of Defense Agency Nishihiro reportedly tried to set up a strategic dialogue with US officials to talk about its strategy with respect to a more powerful China.(28) As the North Korean crisis clearly showed, Japan has also been facing a serious threat from North Korea. Japan inevitably realized the necessity and importance of the bilateral security tie with the US.

The need for regional contingency studies became even more serious for the Japanese government. As already mentioned, the previous guidelines did not give realistic guidance to Japan and the US to respond to a real crisis in North Korea in 1994. The crisis reminded everyone that Japan did not have an institutional capacity to adjust to a crisis situation quickly because of the various constraints on military actions. When the US was about to start a military build-up against North Korea in 1994, Japan drew up a list of 1,900 items of potentially needed assistance, and set up a special headquarters to define what it would be able to do.(29) However, this was extremely challenging for the Japanese government, especially because it had to deal with the legal and political constraints on its military capabilities, and fill the gap between what it would need to do and what it could do in a very short period of time.

The Japanese also learned that it would be “entrapped in a military contingency on the Korean peninsula”(30) in any case, no matter how ready it is.

It was strategically important to ease the complaints of the Americans about the asymmetric burden of the alliance and show ‘sincerity’ in order to build closer security ties. On a political level, Japan wanted to demonstrate their strong ties and deter both China and North Korea. On an operational level, Japan also needed serious contingency studies that have been put off since the Mitsuya Study Incident in 1965, in which a Socialist criticized a contingency study for a military crisis in the Korean Peninsula as an example of the eroding civilian control of the military.(31)

Out of these considerations, Japan responded to the Nye Initiative enthusiastically, revised the NDPO, issued the Joint Security Declaration, and revised the Guidelines for US-Japan Defense Cooperation. This process of re-strengthening the security tie between the US and Japan was not something the US forced or imposed on Japan, but it was a product of the mutual recognition of each other’s needs and interests.

(25)See Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic Bluebook 1992 pp.49-59, Diplomatic Bluebook 1993 and Diplomatic Bluebook 1994


(27)Green (2000), p.244

(28)Funahashi (1997), p.27

(29)Oberdorfer, p.319,320

(30)Murata, p.30



Expansion of Japan’s Military and Security Role?

Now I would like to look at whether it was America and /or Japan’s intention to change Japan’s military and security role in East Asia through the process of re-strengthening the security tie and the revision of the Guidelines. There are two competing arguments, especially regarding the revision of the Guidelines: Japan expanded its security and military role in the region; and the Guidelines re-confirmed and reinforced the limits on Japan’s military and security role.

The argument that Japan expanded its military role significantly by these events in 1990s is somewhat misleading. First of all, it is wrong to say that Japan expanded military capabilities by the revision of the NDPO and the Guidelines. The new NDPO pledges to “make the SDF more rational, effective and compact,”(32) and in fact, the size of the Self Defense Forces was scaled down. Secondly, people often argue that Japan expanded its security role in the region since the new NDPO and Guidelines stipulate that Japan help US forces in a contingency outside of Japan. It is true that the Security Treaty is now officially recognized as to serve regional stability, rather than to simply protect Japan. However, it was already regarded as serving to balance the regional powers and maintain stability in the region even before the Cold War ended. I would argue that the rationale of ‘re-defining’ the goal of the treaty did not come from a change in the nature of the treaty, but rather from the necessary to give a new rhetoric to the treaty in the post-Cold War. In other words, it was a strategy of US and Japanese officials to give a new rhetoric to the treaty so that they can maintain their close security ties with each other despite the end of the Cold War.(33) Finally, it is true that the SDF have been integrated into US military action plans at the operational level. Japan and the US finally started contingency studies in areas outside of Japan that had been postponed because of JapanÅfs ambiguous stance towards the right of collective self-defense. Though some people might regard this as an expansion of Japan’s military role, the SDF’s roles, which are strictly limited to logistic support and evacuation of civilians in the areas that are “distinguished from where combat operations are being conducted,” have not changed significantly.

I would argue that those events initiated by the US and Japan in the 1990s, especially the revision of the Guidelines, revealed that Japan still faces significant political constraints on its military and security role in the region. Considering the amount of pressures on Japan to play a more active role in the region, the limited terms that are used in the new Guidelines and its unchanged official posture toward the right of collective defense and the interpretation of the constitution rather demonstrate this limitation very well.

(32)National Defense Program Outline (

(33)A. Watanabe also argues that the Advisory Group’s report in 1994 tried to re-interpret the Security Treaty in the context of regional and multilateral security in order to maintain the treaty.


Japan’s Right of Collective Self-Defense

The main limitation on Japan’s military role comes from the constitution, which is officially interpreted as prohibiting Japan from exercising the right of collective self-defense. The process of re-strengthening the security tie was actually a great timing for Japan to re-claim the right of collective defense in ‘realist’ term. The public became more aware of a threat of a war that would involve Japan.(34) People had been recognizing the necessity of contributing to global and regional stability by non-economic means since the traumatizing experience of the Gulf War. Voices that support a more active security role in the international arena were seemingly becoming louder.(35) Arguments supporting the amendment of the constitution were also increasing especially among the younger generation.

Pressures from the US to approve the right of collective defense had been also increasing. Senator William Roth officially stated that Japan should resolve constitutional problems over collective defense.(36) Japan’s East Asian Strategic Review in 1997-98 also says that “it was noteworthy that some former US government officials involved with the US-Japan security relationship called on Japan to approve the right of collective self-defense.”(37) An opinion poll conducted in 1997 revealed that 47% of Americans think Japan ought to become fully involved in any military action that Washington initiates in the Far East on Japan’s behalf.(38)

Facing these domestic and foreign pressures and understanding the importance of preventing and responding to a contingency in areas outside of Japan, Japanese politicians had active debates over the necessity of approving the right of collective self-defense. The right of collective self-defense was discussed in Diet committee meetings 227 times between 1994 and 1999 (when the related laws were passed in the Diet).(39) Scholars and security specialists, except for a small group, almost agreed that it is of great importance to consider the possibility of reclaim the right of collective defense, and that this issue would cause a problem in future implementation of the Security Treaty and the relationship with the US.(40)

Despite those pressures, trends, and political debates that could have led Japan to regain the right of collective self-defense, Japan did not reclaim it, but rather re-confirmed the limits on the range of military activities that Japan can take in the guidelines. To the people’s question of whether Japan regained the collective self-defense because the guidelines include support activities responding to ‘situations in areas surrounding Japan,’ the government repeatedly answered that it still maintained the official view about the right of collective self-defense, and tried to convince people that the guidelines did not conflict with this view.(41)

There are several reasons for why the Japanese government did not (or could not) approve the right of collective self-defense. First, concerns over relations with neighboring countries were still strong. China had been criticizing the 1996 Joint Declaration, claiming that it targets China. It is not easy to explain to China and other countries why Japan needs to regain the right of collective self-defense without worsening relations.

Second, domestic politics had been unstable since the end of the so-called ‘55 year system’ in 1994. A non-LDP coalition was created in 1994 for the first time since the end of US occupation, and even after the LDP came back to power, it had to form a coalition with other parties, including the Social Democratic Party, which had been opposing to the SDF and the US-Japan alliance itself. Agreements on US bases in Okinawa in the Joint Security Declaration reflected the influence of the LDP’s coalition members at that time, Sakigake and the SDP. Moreover, The LDP had to seek opposition support for the bills implementing the Guidelines because the LDP, even with its coalition partner, the Liberal Party, lacked a majority in the House of Counselors. Besides inter-party politics, the influence of individual LDP politicians who were active in security issues was weakening at that time.(42) Thus, political constraints that prevented the LDP from approving the right of collective self-defense were huge in the 1990s.

Finally, even though some point out the growing support for being a ‘normal country’ with normal military forces, the public still had a negative feeling towards the right of collective self-defense. Inoguchi argues that it is a psychological matter for the most Japanese rather than a legal one.(43) According to Asahi Shimbun’s poll, only 37% supported the government-proposed defense cooperation bills, while 43% were against them.(44) In another poll conducted in 2001, 46 % accepted Japan’s self-imposed ban on the collective defense right, while 34% said Japan should be able to exercise the right.(45)

US political leaders apparently understood these constraints that Japan was facing. The US’s main interest in revising the Guidelines was to clarify Japan's capabilities and create a concrete framework for emergencies in the region. Though some politicians requested that Japan affirm the right of collective self-defense as mentioned above, top leaders were cautious in calling for it. Kurt Campbell, who was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia and the Pacific at that time, emphasized in an interview by a Japanese reporter that Japan could play an important role within the restraints of its constitution.(46) Michael Green also argued in an interview that Japan did not necessarily have to change the interpretation of the constitution regarding the right of collective self-defense since improving the operational capacity of the treaty was the main interest for the US in revising the Guidelines even though ideally the right should be exercised.(47)

Thus, Japanese and American interests in revising the Guidelines can be thought as to enhance the operational capacity of the Security Treaty while not changing the nature of the Security Treaty. It is probably right to say that the revision of the Guidelines is a result of the ‘pragmatism’ of both the Japanese and the US governments, who tried to meet the need within the constraints that Japan has been facing.

(34)See The Cabinet Bureau of Japan, The Public Survey about the SDF and Defense Issues, 1997 and 1994. To the question “Reflecting upon the current world affairs, do you think there is a risk that Japan will be involved in a war?” 54.9% of the people answered either “yes” or “there is some risk” in 1997 as compared to 47.9% in 1994

(35)See Green (2000), Green (2001) for his analysis on Japan’s tendency toward a more active security role.

(36)Japan Economic Newswire, October 4, 1997, US senator urges Japan to review collective defense

(37)The National Institute for Defense Studies, East Asian Strategic Review 1997-1998, p.31

(38)Mainichi Daily News, May 3, 1997

(39)Searched at Kokkai Kaigiroku Kensaku Shisutemu (Diet Search System)

(40)Such scholars include Akihiko Tanaka, Toshiyuki Shikata, Hisahiko Okazaki, Takashi Inoguchi Tsuneo Watanabe and so forth.

(41)Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Q&As regarding the revision of the Guidelines for US-Japan Defense Cooperation

(42)Sekai Shuho “Shudanteki Jieiken No Kohshi ha Hitsuyo Nai (The Exercise of the Right of Collective Self-Defense is Not Necessary): Interview with Michael Green” November 11, 1997

(43)Inoguchi p.89

(44)See Japan Times, “Diet finally begins full debate on defense cooperation bills” March 16-31, 1999

(45)Jiji News, “More Japanese Favor Nonuse of Collective Defense: Jiji Survey” November 17, 2001

(46)Sekai Shuho, “Kyanberu Beikokubo Fukujikanho tono Ichimon Itto (Q&As with Campbell Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense)” October 14, 1997

(47)Sekai Shuho, “Shudanteki Jieiken no Kohshi ha Hitsuyo Nai (The Exercise of the Right of Collective Self-Defense is Not Necessary): Interview with Michael Green” November 11, 1997



Facing new international situations but unchanged regional threats in the post-Cold War world, the US decided to strengthen its security tie with Japan, and Japan also needed to maintain a degree of dependence on US military power. As Nye first intended, the security tie between the US and Japan was successfully re-confirmed and strengthened through the series of political actions. Funahashi argues that the tie was also strengthened by sharing the experience of the whole process.(48)

Above, I raised a question of whether the new Guidelines change Japan’s military role and the nature of the treaty. My answer to this question is that the new guidelines did not change Japan’s military role significantly, but rather demonstrated its limit. Considering that Japan had many reasons to move forward towards reclaiming the right of collective self-defense, the revised Guidelines showed that Japan is still caught in serious constraints even though the call for becoming a ‘normal’ country is getting stronger.

Since the revision of the Guidelines in 1997, a trend in Japan in favor of playing a more active security role in global security issues is stronger.(49) Especially after the September 11th incidence, Japanese people’s way of looking at security policy has been apparently changing. The relatively quick reaction (compared to the past) of Prime Minister Koizumi was highly evaluated by American Japan watchers.(50) The interim report submitted last year by the Research Commission of the Constitution to the Diet also supports the revision of Article 9.(51)

In relation with the US, however, there is a concern over a growing nationalistic sentiment in Japan. Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Shintaro Ishihara, a comic writer Kobayashi Yoshinori and other right-wing writers have been exceedingly popular and influential, especially among the younger generation. Their advocacy of ‘regaining national pride’ and ‘being assertive to the US’ might foster anti-American feelings among the public. In the US, desires of correcting Japan’s ‘cheap ride’ on US security guarantee still pervade among the public, and they might “expect Japan to pay the full costs (and assume fuller risks) necessary to preserve regional peace and security.”(52) Criticism that the new Guidelines “do little to ensure significant Japanese contributions in the case of a conflict that threatens Japanese and US interests”(53) still prevails among many US scholars. Such a nationalistic sentiment in Japan and continued frustrations in the US might harm bilateral relations in the future.

The revised Guidelines have not been tested in a real North Korean crisis yet. Military specialists point out that the new Guidelines do not provide a sufficient framework at ‘the true moment’ of crisis. Implementation of the new Guidelines should be examined not only in respect to technical and operational capabilities, but also in the context of changing regional and world politics. The implications of the current trend of US unilateralism to the new Guidelines also need to be examined.

(48)Funahashi p.45

(49)For example, in the policy reports of the LDP and the JDP, both of them advocate to reclaiming the right of collective self-defense. Keizai Doyukai (the Japan Association of Corporate Executives) also express their support for changing Japan’s view on the right to collective self-defense. Also see Schoppa p. 121

(50)Heginbotham and Samuels say that the Koizumi’s decision does not reflect Japan’s desire to become ‘a normal country’ but it was out of pragmatic calculations of national interests.

(51)Asahi Shinbun Editorial November 2nd, 2002

(52)See Samuels and Twomey p.13

(53)ibid, p.12


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