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January 12 , 2009

Rethinking Japanese Public Opinion and Security

From Pacifism to Realism?


In this book, Paul Midford engages claims that since 9/11 Japanese public opinion has turned sharply away from pacifism and toward supporting normalization of Japan's military power, in which Japanese troops would fight alongside their American counterparts in various conflicts worldwide.

Midford argues that Japanese public opinion has never embraced pacifism. It has, instead, contained significant elements of realism, in that it has acknowledged the utility of military power for defending national territory and independence, but has seen offensive military power as ineffective for promoting other goals—such as suppressing terrorist networks and WMD proliferation, or promoting democracy overseas.

Over several decades, these realist attitudes have become more evident as the Japanese state has gradually convinced its public that Tokyo and its military can be trusted with territorial defense, and even with noncombat humanitarian and reconstruction missions overseas. On this basis, says Midford, we should re-conceptualize Japanese public opinion as attitudinal defensive realism.

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