Bjørn Elias Mikalsen Grønning

Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies (Norwegian Defence University College) and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Bjørn Elias Mikalsen Grønning

Japan's Security Policy Response to the Contemporary Power Shift in East Asia

Led by the rise of China, contemporary East Asia is characterized by a shifting balance of power. This development has tremendous implications for a regional security architecture largely premised on U.S. presence and dominance. Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe (2012–present) has advocated and quite vigorously pursued a notable departure from Japan’s traditionally self-restrained security policy and a more muscular military and diplomatic posture, amplifying a trend initiated by his most recent predecessors. The implications of more assertive Japanese security policies are considerable. As the third largest economy in the world with a relatively restrained security and military posture, Japan has ample untapped potential as a military power, not least given its leading position in some advanced military technologies such as submarines and missile defense and as a state on the “nuclear threshold.” As the U.S.’ geostrategic linchpin in the Western Pacific, Japan has significant potential in terms of facilitating or complicating the U.S. military presence in the region, with implications for U.S. global military presence and activities.

This dissertation will provide a holistic and in-depth analysis of Japan’s security policy response to the contemporary power shift in East Asia. Applying competing realist hypotheses and a qualitative intrinsic case study design it will analyze changes in Japan’s security policy as well as the extent and characteristics of their implementation. The dissertation will complement existing literature by studying cases of Japan’s security policy largely neglected in the literature and cases where significant new data is available.