The politics of national security

Authored by: Andrew L. Oros

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics

Print publication date:  February  2011
Online publication date:  February  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415551373
eBook ISBN: 9780203829875
Adobe ISBN: 9781136818387


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National security is a deeply political topic in Japan and has been from the very beginnings of Japanese democracy in the nineteenth century. Indeed the founding of the modern Japanese state arguably derives largely from questions of national security posed by the arrival of the Black Ships of Commodore Perry to Japan in 1853. Thus, apart from the important role Japan plays in the realm of international security, national security is an important topic for Japanese domestic politics as well. In the postwar period, the split between the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Japan Socialist Party (JSP) on the topic of national security for the duration of the Cold War is arguably the single best explanation for the LDP’s one-party dominance of Japanese domestic politics from 1955 to 1991, the year the Soviet Union legally ceased to exist. The broad heading of national security continues to generate a number of hot-button political issues that play a key role in party formation and cohesion, and ultimately in Japanese elections—issues such as the teaching of history and patriotism, how to commemorate the sacrifices of the war dead, how to properly atone for the past, the constitutionality of Japan’s sizable military forces, and the long-term U.S. military presence in Japan.

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