November 30, 2014
Does Japan have a grand strategy? Is Japan capable of grand strategy? In the postwar period, Japan adhered closely to the Yoshida Doctrine, aligning with United States and focusing on economic growth. However, today Japan faces challenges from a rising China and constrained economic growth at home that have required a search for new tools of statecraft to secure national interests and preserve autonomy and prestige. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has garnered significant attention for his policies undergirding a path of “proactive pacifism” for Japan.
Shaping this new strategy is a generation of Japanese scholars and foreign policy experts. In 2014, the Center for Strategic and International Studies invited five of these experts to address a range of pressing issues for Japanese foreign policy. Yasuhiro Matsuda of the University of Tokyo seeks to explain China’s assertiveness since 2009. Tetsuo Kotani of the Japan Institute of International Affairs examines China’s maritime strategy. Hiroyasu Akutsu of the National Institute for Defense Studies explains Japan’s emerging North Korea strategy. Yoshikazu Kobayashi of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, presents a strategy for enhancing energy resilience. And Nobuhiro Aizawa of Kyushu University writes about the importance of Southeast Asia to Japan’s regional strategy. Taken together, these five essays highlight areas for enhanced cooperation between the United States and Japan at a time when the United States needs a confident and proactive Japan, and Japan needs sustained American engagement and deterrence in a changing Asia-Pacific region.