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Japanese Defense Policy and the Use of Force
- John Wright (US Air Force Major and Mansfield Foundation Fellow)
For 70 years, Japan has conducted an experiment in statecraft. This experiment is characterized by a diminutive military relative to its economic power, reliance on a great power for its national defense, sensitization of the population to the evils of warfare and violence, and a complete absence of a national policy that utilizes threats and the use of offensive force in pursuit of national interests. The use of force is the most conspicuous outlier in this experiment; despite multinational agreements and international law attesting to the opposite, among the world’s major nations only Japan has publicly and practically renounced its sovereign right to utilize force in international affairs on behalf of the state except in cases where it is clearly the victim of aggression. Not only is this refusal a characteristic of post-war Japanese policy and popular sentiment, it is also strictly enshrined in the Japanese constitution, as penned by the American victors. What, then, are we to make of the first-class military Japan has developed in the face of these restrictions? And why does Japan possess some of the best weapons the world has to offer, but lacks the corresponding national will to use them?
John Wright will provide a brief historical summary of Japanese defense policy in the post-war era and its decisions regarding the use of force, also known as the right of belligerency of the state. He will also provide an analysis of current Japanese state normalization and his insights into the future Japanese use of force, especially in the context of the recently passed defense legislation.
US Air Force Major and Mansfield Foundation Fellow
John Wright is US Air Force Major. He is a C-17 and Global Hawk pilot and currently a Mansfield Foundation Fellow. He will be speaking in his private capacity. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Government, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Air Force, the Japanese organizations with which he has been affiliated, or the Mansfield Foundation.