The Democratic Pressure: New Constraints on Japan's Military Buildup in the 21st Century
Koshino, Yuka Christine
Why has the Abe administration maintained its defense spending at 1 percent of its GDP despite the deteriorating regional security environment, conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s willingness to play an active role in regional and global security, and pressure from its ally to invest more in defense? The purpose of this study is to improve the literature on Japanese security policy by considering the aging population as an independent variable for Japan’s constraints today. Constructivists have argued that the primary constraints are the antimilitarism norms created in the postwar Japan. Although these norms remain today, this argument lacks evidence as the decisive factor. The elements supporting this claim have changed over time. Realists have argued that Japan is riding cheap in the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance for its own security. While their position seems plausible, the majority of these studies were conducted before the changes made under Abe’s initiative in 2012. Through the examination of Japan’s financial conditions over the last two decades with a focus on policy shifts under the Abe administration, this paper argues that Japan’s ever-growing fiscal challenges deriving from its demographic shift are the largest force constraining Japan’s military developments. The paper further provides theoretical and practical implications. By introducing population as a factor, it provides areas of developments in international relations theory—how changes in population affect a country’s security strategy. The paper ends with implications for U.S. and Japanese policymakers
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