Document Type

Honors Project

Abstract

In this thesis, I address two puzzles regarding Japan’s security policy: (1) its minimalist military posture despite its economic power during the Cold War and (2) the recent shift from this minimalist security policy to an assertive one marked by a strengthening of its international security role and military. I argue that although many IR scholars, mainly from the realist camp, claim that the formation of the original security policy (puzzle 1) and subsequent transformation (puzzle 2) is driven by the state’s rational response to external conditions in the international security environment, it can more adequately be explained by the complex dynamics of internal contestation among “identity groups” with different visions of Japan’s national identity and interest.

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