Tokyo Needs to Focus On Its Role As a Middle Power

This piece was co-written by Yoshihide Soeya.

In 2018, we convened the Asia’s Future Research Group because of concern about the intensification of US-China geopolitical rivalry and the increasing risk of military clash in the Asia-Pacific region. The lack of balance in Japanese public discourse about how Japan should address this evolving strategic environment in Asia deeply troubled us.

We saw that not only Asia’s future but also Japan’s future was at a strategic crossroads. We therefore invited scholars and experts on Japanese foreign policy and international relations to join a multiyear project in order to develop a realistic and moderate Japanese strategy for Asia.

In December 2022, the Japanese government adopted a new “National Security Strategy” for the first time in a decade. Although it does not ignore the need for diplomatic dialogue and cooperation, what stands out is the strong emphasis on power politics (including military capabilities) and geopolitics as well as economic security.

The new strategy stresses the centrality of Japan’s self-defense capabilities and the US-Japan alliance. However, there exists a significant disparity between the paradigm presented in the new strategy document and Japan’s own capabilities.

Read the full piece in Asia Times.