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Understanding 50 Years of Japanese Maritime Security Capacity Building in Southeast Asia
- John Bradford (President of the Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies and Adjunct Fellow at ICAS)
Japan has sustained efforts to improve Southeast Asian maritime safety and security as an element of its foreign and security policy the last fifty years. These efforts have predominantly consisted of capacity building initiatives (CBIs) designed to assist the Southeast Asia states’ abilities to maintain good order in their coastal waters. In recent years, these policies have received expanded public exposure as Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) and Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have been directly involved in what were in previous decades the exclusive domain of Japanese civilian agencies, non-governmental foundations and private interests.
The Japanese initiatives have passed through three distinct phases: the first phase (1969-1998) when the initiatives focused exclusively on navigation safety; the second stage (1999-2009) when civilian maritime law enforcement capabilities were also targeted by the CBIs; and the third phase (2010-present) when expansion of the CBIs to include Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) support for naval constabulary operations was seen. The explanations for the motivations behind these policies included: direct reactions to security threats; a national policy-making competition governed by norms and laws; the desires of the United States and Alliance maintenance; and desires to fulfill Japan’s national responsibility and enhance its soft power.
President of the Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies and Adjunct Fellow at ICAS
John Bradford serves as the President of the Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies (YCAPS), a non-profit organization that supports professional development and networking between individuals and thought communities in Yokosuka. He maintains an active research agenda focused on Asian security with special attention given to maritime issues and cooperative affairs. A frequent commentator at public events and specialized conferences, he has been invited to give lectures and presentations in more than a dozen countries. His written work can be found in journals such as Contemporary Southeast Asia, Asia Policy, Asian Security, Asian Survey, Naval War College Review, and Naval Institute Proceedings as well is in edited volumes, online publications and monographs published by leading international think tanks.
John received his BA in Asian Studies and Government from Cornell University. During his undergraduate experience, he also earned a Diploma of Indonesian studies from Malang State University in Indonesia and served as an exchange midshipmen sailing aboard the Royal Malaysian Navy ship, KD Rahmat. As an Olmsted Scholar, he studied in the Department of Political Science at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia and completed an MSc (Strategic Studies) from the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore. At RSIS, he was awarded the UOB Gold Medal, an annual award going to the top student in Strategic Studies. He is also a graduate of Japan’s National Institute of Defense Studies, the U.S. Joint Forces Staff College, and the U.S. Naval War College.
The views he expresses are his own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, YCAPS, ICAS or any other organization.