To many observers, Japan becoming a “normal country” would connote a Japan returning to the stage of great power politics with “normalized” defense and security policies backed by military capabilities. This would imply that Japan would finally be departing from the “post-war regime,” which was a recurrent motif in Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, the late Shinzo Abe’s pronouncements. Japan however, still upholds Article 9 of its post-war constitution (renunciation of war), as well as the security treaty with the United States, which continue to constrain Japan’s strategic autonomy. The “National Security Strategy of Japan,” released on 16 December 2022 says that “the strategic guidance and policies under this Strategy will dramatically transform Japan’s national security policy after the end of WWII from the aspect of its execution.” It however also states that “Japan will adhere to the basic policy of maintaining an exclusively national defense-oriented policy.” This apparent paradox would appear to be at the core of Japan’s “normalcy conundrum”.
About the Speaker
Dr. Prof. Yoshihide Soeya is Professor Emeritus of political science and international relations in the Faculty of Law at Keio University. He served as the Director of the Institute of East Asian Studies of the same university for six years until September 2013, and as the Director of its Center for Contemporary Korean Studies for five years until March 2016. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1987, majoring in world politics. His areas of interest are politics and security in East Asia, and Japanese diplomacy and its external relations. Dr. Soeya was a Japan Scholar of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. from September 2013 to January 2014, and a Korea Foundation Fellow affiliated with the ASAN Institute in Seoul in March-May 2014. Dr. Soeya also served from 1999 to 2000 as a member of the Prime Minister’s Commission on Japan’s Goals in the 21st Century, and, in 2010, as a member of the Council on Security and Defense Capabilities in the New Era, both in the Prime Minister’s Office. He was also a member of the Central Council on Defense Facilities at the Agency/Ministry of Defense from 2000-2009, and of the Advisory Group of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2003-2013. His recent publications in English include “Middle Power Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Era,” Issues & Studies, Vol. 56, No. 2 (June 2020); and, “The Rise of China in Asia: Japan at the Nexus,” in Asle Toje, ed., Will China’s Rise be Peaceful? Security, Stability, and Legitimacy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).
About the Chair
Prof. Srabani Roy Choudhury is a Professor in the Japanese Studies Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her association with Japan began with the Japan Foundation Fellowship 1996-1997. She has been on a visiting scholar programme to Keizai Koho Centre, Ministry of Economics and Industry, Japan, Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance, Japan, REIB, Kobe University, GSID, Nagoya University. Her recent publications are centred on economic diplomacy between Japan and India with reference to Japanese business. Currently she is looking at India- Japan relations from the perspective of the power dynamics in the Indo-Pacific region. She has to her credit two edited volumes titled, Japan-SAARC Partnership: A Way Ahead (2014) and India-Japan Relations @ 70: Building Beyond Bilateral (2022).
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