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  • Author: Sayuri Romei
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International Security and Cooperation
  • Abstract: Throughout the Cold War, Japanese leaders and policy-makers have generally been careful to reflect the public’s firm opposition to anti-nuclear sentiment. However, the turn of the 21st century has witnessed a remarkable shift in the political debate, with élites alluding to a nuclear option for Japan. This sudden proliferation of nuclear statements among Japanese élites in 2002 has been directly linked by Japan watchers to the break out of the second North Korean nuclear crisis and the rapid buildup of China’s military capabilities. Is the Japanese perception of this double military threat in Northeast Asia really the main factor that triggered this shift in the nuclear debate? This paper argues that Japanese élites’ behavior rather indicates that the new threats in the regional strategic context is merely used as a pretext to solve a more deep-rooted and long-standing anxiety that stems from Japan’s own unsuccessful quest for a less reactive, and more proactive post-Cold War identity.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea