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Re-rising Japan

Its Strategic Power in International Relations


Edited By Hidekazu Sakai and Yoichiro Sato

"The lost two decades" of Japan’s economic power since the early 1990s have generated the image among scholars in the discipline of international relations (IR) that Japan is no longer a significant player. Hence, today’s IR literature focuses on the rise of China. Re-rising Japan: Its Strategic Power in International Relations challenges this trend by showing up-to-date evidence that Japan is still a major power in today’s international relations where the interests and power of the United States and China have increasingly clashed over many issues.

Indeed, since the Abe cabinet re-emerged in December 2012, there has been growing academic interest in Japan’s bold monetary/financial/social policies (Abenomics) and relatively assertive security policy. Where is Japan heading, and what path has it taken since the 2000s? This book responds to these questions.

Re-rising Japan assembles the latest studies on Japan written by today’s young and energetic scholars. It consists of three parts: (1) Geopolitics, (2) Domestic Political-Social Norms and Values, and (3) Asian Regional Integration and Institutionalizations. The individual chapters reveal what power assets Japan has and their strength and weakness in today’s international relations. Readers will attain a complete picture of Japan and its evolving new strategy in the decaying U.S. unipolar system where China has been behaving as a revisionist state.

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Chapter Seven: Contending State Identities and Japan’s Policy toward the “War on Terror” in Afghanistan (2001–2010): From a “Normal State” to an “Autonomous Civilian Power” (Kivilcim Erkan)


chapter seven

Contending State Identities and Japan’s Policy toward the “War on Terror” in Afghanistan (2001–2010)

From a “Normal State” to an “Autonomous Civilian Power”

Kivilcim Erkan


This chapter examines changes in Japan’s policy toward the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2010. Under successive governments led by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) between 2001 and 2008, Japan supported the war in two ways: logistical support given to the U.S.-led military campaign by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and economic assistance provided for reconstruction in Afghanistan. Following the 2009 House of Representatives election, the new government led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) terminated the SDF’s mission while increasing reconstruction assistance, in spite of U.S. pressure on Japan to continue the SDF’s mission and higher costs involved with additional economic assistance. As such, the main question that this chapter seeks to address is why Japan changed its policy toward the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan by terminating the logistical support and increasing economic assistance for Afghanistan’s reconstruction. The main argument made here is that the salience of Japan’s state identity as a global civilian power has led to the prioritization of reconstruction assistance in the long-run.

The chapter proceeds in the following way. First, the nature of Japan’s policy toward the U.S.-led “War on Terror” in Afghanistan will be discussed. Second, the inadequacy of the previous explanations on Japan’s policy toward the war...

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