Japanese grand strategy and the role of arms production and transfers

As is well known. Japan's total defeat, subsequent economic devastation, loss of independence under the US-dominated Allied Occupation (1945-1951), undergoing of the process of demilitarization embodied in the acceptance of Article 9 of the 'peace constitution’ of 1946, and the emergence of the Cold War in East Asia, demonstrated its international security vulnerabilities and obliged its leaders to formulate a new ‘grand strategy’. Japan's eventual settling on Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru's pragmatic strategic line, or the so-called 'Yoshida Doctrine’, emphasizing the rebuilding of domestic economic strength, minimal rearmament, and alignment with the US through the 1951 US-Japan security treaty—and the bargain of exchanging Japan's provision to the US of bases for regional power projection in return for effective guarantees of military protection—in large part resolved Japan’s immediate security concerns. Japan’s subsequent adherence to and adaptation of the Yoshida Doctrine throughout the Cold War period, with the posture of alignment giving way to the creation of an emergent US-Japan alliance relationship and offensive-defensive bilateral division of labor in East Asia, continued to serve Japanese national security interests effectively.3

Japanese policy-makers' pursuit of the Yoshida Doctrine and strategic bargain with the US, however, did not mean that they committed unconditionally to these security arrangements or saw them as cost-free. Japan continued to seek to maximize national autonomy as far as feasible within its domestic and international security constraints, and to hedge against the classic alliance dilemmas of abandonment, but especially entrapment, in this period. The result was Japan's engaging in often convoluted hedging tactics involving the maintenance of the ban on the individual self-defense to curtail risks of embroilment in collective selfdefense operations to support the US, general obfuscation of the degree of defensive commitments to the US under bilateral alliance arrangements, and Japan's eschewing the procurement of military capabilities that could be enlisted in the sendee of the US outside Japan’s immediate territorial defense. Japan thus continued to contemplate the development of a 'dual-hedge' against over-dependence on the US—hedging primarily within the US-Japan alliance to limit its commitments and maintain autonomy and thus a degree leverage over the US; and more secondarily, given at this time its limited military capabilities and range of possible partners outside the US, hedging against the alliance by developing potential alternative options to mitigate over-reliance on the US, or even remove itself from the alliance if the costs of the relationship grew unacceptable (Heginbotham & Samuels, 2002; Midford 2015).

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