Since the end of World War II, Japan has not sought to remilitarize, and its postwar constitution commits to renouncing aggressive warfare. Yet many inside and outside Japan have asked whether the country should or will return to commanding armed forces amid an increasingly challenging regional and global context and as domestic politics have shifted in favor of demonstrations of national strength.
Tom Phuong Le offers a novel explanation of Japan's reluctance to remilitarize that foregrounds the relationship between demographics and security. Japan's Aging Peace demonstrates how changing perceptions of security across generations has culminated in a culture of antimilitarism that constrains the government's efforts to pursue a more martial foreign policy. Le challenges a simple opposition between militarism and pacifism, arguing that Japanese security discourse should be understood in terms of ?multiple militarisms,? which can legitimate choices such as the mobilization of the Japan Self-Defense Forces for peacekeeping operations and humanitarian relief missions. Le highlights how factors that are not typically linked to security policy, such as aging and declining populations and gender inequality, have played crucial roles. He contends that the case of Japan challenges the presumption in international relations scholarship that states must pursue the use of force or be punished, showing how widespread normative beliefs have restrained Japanese policy makers. Drawing on interviews with policy makers, military personnel, atomic bomb survivors, museum coordinators, grassroots activists, and other stakeholders, as well as analysis of peace museums and social movements, Japan's Aging Peace provides new insights for scholars of Asian politics, international relations, and Japanese foreign policy.
Tom Phuong Le
Columbia University Press
Country of Publication:
Series: Contemporary Asia in the World
22 June 2021
Professional and scholarly
List of Tables and Figures Preface Note on Names and Currency 1. Japan's Aging Peace 2. Multiple Militarisms 3. Who Will Fight? The JSDF's Demographic Crises 4. Technical-Infrastructural Constraints and the Capacity Crises 5. Antimilitarism and the Politics of Restraint 6. Peace Culture and Normative Restraints 7. Crafting Peace Among Militarisms 8. Aging Gracefully Appendix A: Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation (Abridged) Appendix B: Peace and War Museums in Japan Notes Bibliography Index
Tom Phuong Le is assistant professor of politics at Pomona College.
Reviews for Japan's Aging Peace: Pacifism and Militarism in the Twenty-First Century
As China's power and ambitions grow, how will its neighbors respond? Japan's Aging Peace addresses the future of Japanese national security policy, providing an important update to a longstanding debate. Arguing that a country's security policy is supported by an 'ecosystem' of diverse social attributes-such as demographics, religion, and gender inequality-Le enriches debates about Japan's, and East Asia's, future. -- Jennifer Lind, author of <i>Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics</i> Tom Phuong Le has written a landmark study challenging widespread claims that Japan is normalizing and remilitarizing. Developing a useful taxonomy of militarism, antimilitarism, and pacifism, Le demonstrates the continued salience of normative constraints on deploying Japan's military and offers an original argument about how Japan's aging and declining population also limits the country's supposed remilitarization. Japan's Aging Peace deserves to be read by anyone interested in Japan, international politics in East Asia, U.S. policy in this region, or militarism and pacifism more generally. -- Paul Midford, author of <i>Overcoming Isolationism: Japan's Leadership in East Asian Security Multilateralism</i> Japan's Aging Peace innovatively explores the connection between Japan's rapidly aging and shrinking population and the direction of its national security policy. Le marshals a wide range of evidence to support the view that Japan's distinctive antimilitarist culture will continue to constrain nationalist impulses for years to come. -- Andrew Oros, author of <i>Japan's Security Renaissance: New Policies and Politics for the Twenty-First Century</i> How is Japan not a normal country in security policy and why? No one but Tom Phuong Le has ever brought to bear anywhere near this volume or variety of evidence, nor this variety of conceptual lenses, to answering this question. Japan's Aging Peace is a masterwork in providing a subtle, sophisticated, and penetrating understanding of Japanese antimilitarism. -- David Welch, author of <i>Painful Choices: A Theory of Foreign Policy Change</i>