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Japan, the post-9/11 security agenda, and the political economy of inequality and insecurity

Christopher W Hughes

CSGR Working Paper No. 127/04

January 2004



Japan has been heavily affected by the post-9/11 security environment to the degree that it may precipitate significant, if as yet still incremental, changes in the overall trajectory of its own security policy. Japan on the global level has shared US concerns about the spread of terrorism, and on the regional level these concerns have been reflected in the problems of potential links between al-Qaeda and insurgency in the Philippines and Indonesia. Japan has feared even more the proliferation of WMD in East Asia and beyond. As will be argued in this paper, Japan does not accept the full logic of the ‘war on terrorism’ and ‘axis of evil’, and the implied linkages between terrorism and WMD, and especially between Iraq and North Korea. Nevertheless, Japan is aware that the US for its part increasingly accepts this logic and may act upon it in seeking to constrain North Korea’s nuclear programme, and that this may then pose severe dilemmas for Japanese security policy in terms of countering North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons through military support for its US ally, or through the use of economic engagement.

Japan’s security policy evolution is an important test case to examine the impact of the ‘war on terrorism’ on the political economy of security and economic inequality, and related policy implications for a range of developed states. This paper seeks to explore the evolution of Japan’s security policy and its role as a test case in a series of stages. The paper begins by examining Japan’s conceptions of the interconnections between economic and security both prior to and post 9/11, and the means by which Japan has used economic power in the past in the service of its security policy. It then moves on to explore how these economic tools of security policy have fared under and been adapted to the post-Cold War and post-9/11 security environment. Japan’s policy-making commitment to the use of economic power in addressing security problems arising from the ‘war on terrorism’ and in other contexts is next examined, as with the case of human security, in parallel with a discussion of Japan’s increasing commitment to military means.

Keywords:- Japan, security, war on terror, political economy, economic power, Iraq.

Address for correspondence:

Chris Hughes
CSGR, University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK

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