Journal Article - International Security

'New Fighting Power!' Japan's Growing Maritime Capabilities and East Asian Security

    Author:
  • Richard J. Samuels
| Winter 2007/08

Abstract

Japanese leaders struggled for decades to overcome legal, political, and normative constraints on the expansion of the Self-Defense Forces so that Japan could field a robust military. Their progress was steady and significant, but slow. Now, having reframed the nature of the threat Japan faces and having borrowed creatively from the U.S. model, they have found new traction by empowering the Japan Coast Guard (JCG). Today's JCG has what its publicists, citing capabilities explicitly banned by Japan's constitution, call "New Fighting Power!" Remarkably, however, JCG modernization and expansion are being achieved without much objection from Japan's neighbors or from the domestic public. Although the JCG is not a "second navy," it is already a fourth branch of the Japanese military. Tokyo is now able to project additional diplomatic influence as well as "fighting power." Japan's "new fighting power" is thus greater than the sum of its military parts.

Japanese leaders struggled for decades to overcome legal, political, and normative constraints on the expansion of the Self-Defense Forces so that Japan could field a robust military. Their progress was steady and significant, but slow. Now, having reframed the nature of the threat Japan faces and having borrowed creatively from the U.S. model, they have found new traction by empowering the Japan Coast Guard (JCG). Today's JCG has what its publicists, citing capabilities explicitly banned by Japan's constitution, call "New Fighting Power!" Remarkably, however, JCG modernization and expansion are being achieved without much objection from Japan's neighbors or from the domestic public. Although the JCG is not a "second navy," it is already a fourth branch of the Japanese military. Tokyo is now able to project additional diplomatic influence as well as "fighting power." Japan's "new fighting power" is thus greater than the sum of its military parts.

For more information on this publication: Please contact International Security
For Academic Citation: Richard J. Samuels. 'New Fighting Power!' Japan's Growing Maritime Capabilities and East Asian Security.” International Security, vol. 32. no. 3. (Winter 2007/08):
84-112
.

The Author