Abstract Since 2012, Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzō has sought to remake the country’s foreign and security policy. Abe’s agenda, which is increasingly called an ‘Abe Doctrine’, has prompted considerable debate as to its true nature. Is the Abe Doctrine nationalist, revisionist, or realist? This article contributes to these debates by tracing the competing characterizations of an Abe Doctrine’s policy ideas and assessing these against the doctrine’s policy prescriptions. It argues that the Abe Doctrine–situated within the long-term evolution of Japanese policymaking – is chiefly realist rather than nationalist in its policy prescriptions. In fact, where the doctrine does constitute a major departure from past policy practice, largely unrecognized until now, is not so much in how it expands Japan’s international role but in how it narrows this role. The underlying logic of the Abe Doctrine may therefore be pushing Japan towards a new form of regional realism. 1 Introduction Since returning as prime minister in 2012, Abe Shinzō has sought to remake Japan’s foreign and security policy. His aim has been to ensure that Japan can play a more active international role and more effectively defend its national interests. However, just over four years into Abe’s prime ministership, there continues to be much debate, at least internationally, over what kind of foreign policy leader Abe is and what kind of foreign and security policy doctrine he is establishing. Some view Abe’s policies as evolutionary and gradual (e.g. Green and Hornung, 2014; Kitaoka, 2014; Nilsson-Wright and Fujiwara, 2015; Liff, 2015), while others see an emerging ‘Abe Doctrine’ as a ‘radical external agenda’ (Hughes, 2015: 2) or as constituting a ‘watershed moment’ and a ‘sea change’ in Japanese policy (Hughes, 2017b: 93, 108; see also Maslow, 2015). The Abe Doctrine is clearly significant. But what exactly is the nature of this doctrine? Is it nationalist or militarist? Does it put Japan onto a radical new foreign policy trajectory? If it does represent a gradual policy evolution, where has it come from and what does it change? This article’s aim is to develop a more comprehensive and nuanced picture of the Abe Doctrine. In this task, the article seeks to engage with the emerging international debate on Abe’s policies (see Mochizuki and Porter, 2013; Envall, 2015a; Liff, 2015; Dobson, 2016; Easley, 2017; Oros, 2017) and especially the work of Christopher Hughes (2015, 2017b). Any assessment of Abe’s foreign policies will obviously be complicated by the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States in November 2016 (Envall, 2017a). Nevertheless, the Trump shock provides an opportunity to consider how well the Abe Doctrine is setting Japan up to manage rapidly shifting international conditions. Accordingly, the article seeks to assess the Abe Doctrine in four steps. First, it establishes a framework for understanding and assessing foreign and security doctrine by drawing on the wider foreign policy and grand strategy literature (e.g. Holsti, 1988; Goldstein and Keohane, 1993; Tannenwald, 2005; Gyngell and Wesley, 2003; Betts, 2000). Second, it outlines how the beliefs, principles, and expectations of the Abe Doctrine (its policy ideas) are characterized through the different lenses of revisionism, nationalism, and realism. It suggests that, as a catch-all conceptual tool, revisionism struggles to explain how the many elements of the Abe Doctrine fit together within Japan’s contemporary security discourse. Third, the article interrogates the policy prescriptions of the Abe Doctrine using what have been identified as the main pillars of contemporary Japanese security policy. In this respect, the article utilizes the framework developed by Christopher Hughes (2015) to examine the Abe Doctrine, focusing on: (i) Japan’s defense capability, (ii) the US–Japan alliance, and (iii) Japan’s diplomacy around the Asia-Pacific. Finally, in order to better understand the nature of the doctrine, the article assesses how the policy ideas of the Abe Doctrine have been translated into the doctrine’s policy prescriptions. The article’s central argument is that, in terms of its policy prescriptions, the Abe Doctrine demonstrates strong continuities with past Japanese security practices, particularly those from the Japanese realist tradition. Although not always articulated, the underlying logic of the Abe Doctrine’s policy prescriptions follows on from Cold War realist thinking that has previously been described as military realism (Mochizuki, 1983/84). The article does not argue that the Abe Doctrine’s beliefs, principles, or expectations are free of nationalism or that Abe’s nationalist ideas do not, at times, shape policy prescriptions. However, it points to the lack of consistency between the nationalist parts of the Abe Doctrine’s policy ideas on the one hand and the substantial realism of its policy prescriptions on the other. By viewing the Abe Doctrine in this way, it is possible to discern how the doctrine may indeed become a departure, and perhaps even a watershed moment, in Japanese foreign and security policy. The article contends that the doctrine is significant not as a nationalist transformation or as a radical shift toward militarism in Japanese security policy; instead, the Abe Doctrine may become most influential in terms of how it modifies Japan’s realist tradition. The underlying logic of the doctrine’s policy prescriptions, as opposed to its policy ideas, points towards a Japan that is repositioning itself in a more focused way to deal with its immediate strategic challenges – those presented by the rise of China, North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and America’s sometimes ambivalent commitment to the region. Even as the Abe Doctrine expands elements of Japan’s security role, such as on collective self-defense, it is also narrowing this role towards a predominantly regional focus and away from the globalism of the early post-Cold War period. The Abe Doctrine may not envisage Japan becoming a ‘middle power’, as Soeya Yoshihide (2005) might argue; but nor is it likely to be the doctrine of a great power. Instead, as an emerging regional power (Buzan and Wæver, 2003), Japan under the Abe Doctrine may move beyond ‘reluctant’ realism (Green, 2001), or even ‘resentful’ realism (Hughes, 2015), towards a new regional realism. 2 Defining foreign and security policy ‘doctrine’ The idea of a doctrine encompassing both foreign and security policy is widely studied, although not always clearly defined. In assessing a potential Abe Doctrine, therefore, it is necessary first to clarify what is meant by this term. Certainly, the concept has a rich history. In the United States, the nineteenth century Monroe Doctrine sought to establish US hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. In the mid-twentieth century, the Nixon Doctrine aimed to push more of America’s security in East Asia onto its allies and partners in the region (see Green, 2017). For Japan, the most prominent foreign policy doctrine has been the Yoshida Doctrine, named after early post-war Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru. But other doctrines have been proposed with varying degrees of acceptance, including the Fukuda Doctrine and the Koizumi Doctrine (see Sudo, 1992; Midford, 2010). What makes a doctrine? The term is often used in addition to policy, suggesting that it is intended to mean something more. Indeed, many definitions of foreign policy hint at an over-arching dimension. As K.J. Holsti (1988: 92) argues, ‘there is a vast difference in scope between sending a single diplomatic note … and defining what a nation will seek throughout the world in the long run’. Holsti (1988) divides foreign policy into four components: orientations, national roles, objectives, and actions. Allan Gyngell and Michael Wesley (2003) view foreign policy as covering the general undertakings of states, ideal plans against which behavior can then be measured, as well as specific actions taken to influence particular issues. Valerie Hudson (2012: 14) defines foreign policy simply as the ‘strategy or approach chosen by the national government to achieve its goals in its relations with external entities’. Foreign policy doctrines are, therefore, usually sets of policy ideas and approaches intended to form a coherent whole. Again, Holsti (1988: 325) views a foreign policy doctrine as an ‘explicit set of beliefs that purports to explain reality and usually prescribes goals for political action’. Bert Edström (1999: 3), citing Brodin (1977: 26), views doctrine as ‘a system of general notions and ideas, including normative ones, openly accounted for by officials in power, with reference to the international system and the role of their own state in it’. Doctrines are especially concerned with developing ‘road maps’ for policy actors as they consider ‘ends-means relationships’ (Goldstein and Keohane, 1993: 3). Such road maps can be divided into different parts – ideological world beliefs, normative principles, and causal (cause-effect) expectations – even as these parts are often woven together in what might appear to be a ‘seamless web’ (Goldstein and Keohane, 1993: 11). A fourth dimension, prescriptions, can also be added (see Tannenwald, 2005). Prescriptions refer to those ideas which specify how particular strategic challenges might be addressed. Thus, doctrines can be understood as incorporating two basic elements: policy ideas comprised of policymakers’ world beliefs, principles, and causal expectations; and more concrete policy prescriptions (presumably) flowing from these ideas. Such understandings of doctrine overlap substantially with notions of strategy and, especially, grand strategy. Gyngell and Wesley (2003: 25–26) actually refer to a ‘strategic level’ of foreign policy, by which they mean the ‘specific choices, interpretations and definitions of national values, national roles and the international context’. Likewise, Paul Kennedy (1991: 5) argues that the ‘crux of grand strategy’ is in ‘policy’, by which he means the ability of a state to gather its resources to enhance its long-term interests. As with doctrine, definitions of strategy also focus on the alignment of means and ends (e.g. see Freedman, 2013). Ultimately, as Richard Betts (2000) suggests, strategy and policy can be seen as different levels of analysis that are nonetheless joined together in a decision-making chain linking means and ends. Whether strategies or doctrines are ever coherent is open to debate, however. In asking whether strategy is an illusion, Betts (2000) points out that strategic coherence is often undermined by such factors as political competition, which can lead to internal conflicts and compromises over how to coordinate and deploy strategic assets, whether economic, political, or military. It is also debatable as to whether doctrines or strategies can ever be clearly identified. Doctrines can certainly be found in official declarations (e.g. Brodin, 1972). Yet, as Holsti (1988) argues, national policies or strategies rarely appear in single decisions, but tend to emerge from a series of cumulative decisions made in order to adapt or align multiple national objectives to changing internal and external environments. It is nevertheless possible to distinguish between different forms of doctrine. They may be verbalised or non-verbalised (Goldmann, 1982: 235), with the former referring to a ‘line of action’ that is articulated by the state, while the latter means a line of action that is simply undertaken. Edström (1999) further breaks down doctrines into three types: a declared doctrine, officially launched; a set of beliefs held by decision-makers; and an official doctrine based on the statements of officials but not explicitly declared as ‘doctrine’. It is possible to adopt a narrow method of only studying officially declared doctrine, as Edström (1999) does in his study of Japanese foreign policy doctrine. But this approach can easily exclude much that is valuable in terms of influential beliefs, principles, and expectations. By comparison, a broader approach will likely encounter the opposite problem. It must overcome both the noise of political and policy discourse and the inherent ambiguities and contradictions noted above. This is readily apparent in wider studies of Japanese foreign and security policy doctrine. Even at the level of terminology, there is little consensus about the object of analysis, whether the topic is grand strategy, foreign policy, security consensus (Samuels, 2007), national style (Pyle, 2007), security identity or strategic culture (Oros, 2008, 2014, 2017; Singh, 2013), defense posture (Easley, 2017), or simply defense policy (Liff, 2015). Unsurprisingly, there is much disagreement over the nature of even Japan’s most prominent post-war foreign and security policy doctrine, the Yoshida Doctrine. The policies developed by Yoshida from the 1940s through to the mid-1950s – limitations on rearmament, a low-key foreign policy, and close alignment with the US – allowed Japan to concentrate on post-war economic development and keep defense issues at the periphery of national politics (Samuels, 2007; Envall, 2017b). Yet scholars are divided on whether Yoshida’s policies amount to a doctrine. Some see it as a masterful political compromise that effectively maximized Japan’s weak diplomatic hand after the Second World War (e.g. Dower, 1979; Pyle, 1987; Tanaka, 1997; Samuels, 2007). Others, however, view it as too incoherent, haphazard, or opportunistic (e.g. Kataoka, 1991; Soeya, 2008; Sugita, 2016) to really constitute a doctrine. Betts’s (2000) skepticism regarding strategy would suggest that those expecting the Yoshida Doctrine to be fully coherent demand too much. But what is clear from such studies is that the Yoshida Doctrine, which encompassed verbalized and non-verbalized components, requires a broader analysis than a simpler type of doctrine, such as the Fukuda Doctrine, which was a declared doctrine. The Abe Doctrine falls into the former camp, incorporating both verbalized and non-verbalized components and representing an accumulation of a great many beliefs, principles, expectations, and prescriptions. As such, this article adopts a broader approach to assessing the Abe Doctrine. A key focus is on whether there is any underlying logic or obvious patterns tying the Abe Doctrine’s policy ideas to its policy prescriptions. In theory, the latter should flow clearly from the former. However, as the above discussion highlights, this may not always be true. Rather, where there are inconsistencies and contradictions between these two broad elements of the Abe Doctrine – an Abe ‘paradox’ (Nakanishi, 2015) – the aim is to establish what this means in terms of the Abe Doctrine being a revisionist, nationalist, or realist road map for Japan’s future foreign and security policies. 3 Assessing the Abe Doctrine: policy ideas When assessing the beliefs, principles, and expectations of the Abe Doctrine, most international scholars tend to characterize it along three broad lines: as revisionist, nationalist, or realist. It is possible also to point to Abe’s statements concerning democracy and a liberal rules-based order in Asia (e.g. Abe, 2006, 2012; GOJ, 2013a) and so identify a fourth liberal line. However, Abe’s commitment to liberalism and democracy are often viewed as superficial or ‘window dressing’ (Harris, 2007), as something of a ‘façade’ (e.g. Nilsson-Wright and Fujiwara, 2015: 6), or as contradicted by his views on history (Hughes, 2015). Furthermore, the first of the three main characterizations, revisionism, is itself highly problematic. In essence, revisionism simply means amending or modifying established policies or decision-making processes. It is a useful term for understanding Cold War revisionist politicians, described by Richard Samuels (2007: 37), for example, as the ‘demilitarized heirs of Konoye [Fumimaro]’, or for comparing where contemporary doctrines might stand in relation to the Cold War Yoshida Doctrine. Yet, in the post-Cold War period, Japan’s debates on security policy have been fixated on whether or how to modify or revise the Cold War Yoshida Doctrine. Consequently, multiple, often quite different, revisionisms have emerged. Confusingly, revisionists can be ideological (Samuels, 2007; Hughes, 2015), but also historical (Hughes, 2015; Oros, 2017) as well as constitutional (Samuels, 2003; Hughes, 2006). Globalism and realism could also be understood as revisionist when contrasted to elements of the Yoshida Doctrine. Other groupings within the contemporary discourse that incorporate different types of revisionism include neoautonomists (Samuels, 2007) or Gaullists (Mochizuki, 1983/84; Envall, 2008b; Hughes, 2017a). Ultimately, the term’s broad, ‘catch-all’ nature makes it a poor tool for distinguishing between these differing contemporary outlooks. Hughes (2015) characterizes the Abe Doctrine as both revisionist and nationalist. The Abe administration, he argues, ‘is fundamentally revisionist and nationalist in outlook and is thus set upon, and in fact already shifting, Japan towards a radical trajectory’ (Hughes, 2015: 5). The inevitable failure of this agenda, he suggests, is due to its ‘internal and hence inescapable contradictions’ (Hughes, 2015: 6). These include contradictions between Abe’s ideas of a liberal order with his veneration of Japan’s imperial past, as well as between his desire for strategic autonomy and the importance he attaches to the alliance (Hughes, 2015: 93–94). Hughes is right to highlight such contradictions. Yet if foreign and security policy doctrines often contain such contradictions, it is important also to consider whether there might be a hierarchy amongst the competing beliefs, principles, expectations, and prescriptions and how, if they do clash, this might shape an overall Abe Doctrine. Since the catch-all nature of revisionism does not readily allow for such distinctions to be made, it is better to turn to the narrower and more coherent notions of nationalism and realism. To begin, the nationalism of an Abe Doctrine is readily identifiable. Indeed, it is the most prominent framework for understanding Abe, especially in the international media (e.g. see Burcu, 2015). In terms of beliefs, this characterization focuses on Abe’s preoccupation with Japanese history and war-time guilt narrative and what this implies about his view of Japan’s international prestige and status as a ‘normal nation’ (futsū no kuni). Abe’s rhetoric is seen to closely follow that of other right-wing political figures in Japan, such Nakasone Yasuhiro, who argued that Japan needed to ‘settle all accounts on postwar political issues’ (Pyle, 1996: 85). Abe’s long association with Nihon Kaigi (Japan Conference) is cited as evidence of this aspect to Abe’s thinking (Hughes, 2015). Similarly, his equivocations regarding Japan’s role in the Second World War are offered as examples of his nationalism: Abe has regularly raised doubts about how ‘aggression’ might be defined and has refused to refrain from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine (Tepperman, 2013; Dobson, 2016; Envall, 2015b). He has raised questions over the Murayama apology (made in 1995 by then Prime Minister Murayama Tomi’ichi regarding the suffering caused by Japan during the Second World War) (Asahi Shinbun, 2013; see also Gustafsson, 2013; Envall, 2015b). Abe’s ‘beautiful country’ (utsukushii kuni) rhetoric is thus viewed as an argument that Japan does not need to apologize for its history (Hagström, 2015). A key normative principle following on from this is patriotism. As many observers note, Abe and his government have actively pursued educational reform with a view to having patriotism become a more central part of Japanese schools’ curriculum. As Hughes (2015: 19) argues, the Abe administrations have sought ‘to inculcate a sense of patriotic duty to defend the nation’. Much controversy has therefore revolved around the government’s attempts to revise history textbooks for Japanese schools, with a view either to downplay Japan’s wartime conduct or to assert Japan’s view regarding various territorial disputes (Hayashi, 2008; Schneider, 2008). Such nostalgic nationalism was apparent in Abe’s first administration (2006–07) (see Envall, 2011; Hughes, 2015) and a similar trend can be identified in Abe’s second stint as prime minister (Hughes, 2015). Understood in nationalist terms, the Abe Doctrine’s chief expectation is that power and security can only be achieved through greater autonomy, which in turn can only be obtained if Japan sets out a new history of its imperial past and re-engineers its security institutions (Park, 2011; Hughes, 2015; Dobson, 2016; Maslow, 2015). Abe’s ambition to end the post-war regime (sengo taisei kara dakkyaku), which is directed at recovering autonomy through constitutional change, is seen in this light. As Abe (2006: 29) has argued, ‘the revision of the Constitution is a symbol of the “recovery of independence”’ (dokuritsu no kaifuku). According to Rikki Kersten (2011: 12), Abe’s policies on the constitution represent ‘a direct challenge to the national identity politics surrounding Article 9’ and therefore the central tenets of both pacifism and the Yoshida Doctrine. Kersten (2016: 10) further argues that Abe is seeking to ‘appropriate’ and then ‘reconstitute’ the normative basis for Japanese security policy by characterizing the passivity of Japanese foreign and security policy as too dangerous for a more threatening world. Whereas characterizations of Abe as transformational or nationalist tend to highlight the elements of change in his policies (as argued by Liff (2015)), realist characterizations pay more attention to the continuities. In terms of beliefs, this means focusing on Abe’s vison of Japan as a pragmatic actor operating a rules-based order, as a reliable ally of the United States, and as an emerging regional partner to others in Asia. Leif-Eric Easley (2017: 74) points to Abe’s statements regarding Japan’s commitment to being a ‘leading promoter’ of a rules-based order and a ‘guardian of the global commons’ (Abe, 2013a). Others (e.g. Mochizuki and Porter, 2013) highlight Abe’s shift away from historical revisionism towards greater pragmatism. Abe’s record on Japan’s history, described above, has undoubtedly been controversial. Yet by keeping a relatively low profile on these issues more recently, Abe has seemingly put pragmatism ahead of ideology. He has abided by the Murayama apology, described earlier, as well as the Kōno statement (which was made in 1993 by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Kōno Yōhei and acknowledges Japan’s involvement in forcing so-called ‘comfort women’ into brothels during the Second World War). The ‘comfort women’ issue has been a major problem in Japan–South Korea relations (Togo, 2016). He has also refrained from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine. Normatively, Adam Liff (2015) highlights the fact that Abe has retained long-standing principles of Japanese security policy, such as exclusive defense (senshu bōei), the three non-nuclear principles, and relatively moderate defense spending (see also Easley, 2017). The major area where Abe departs from nationalism and adheres instead to realist policy ideas, however, concerns the US–Japan alliance. Here, the nationalist discourse is especially prone to anti-Americanism, as exemplified by figures such as Ishihara Shintarō and Nishibe Susumu (Watanabe, 2008). Accordingly, scholars highlighting Abe’s realism look to his prominent support for the alliance (a central realist objective). Abe has variously described the alliance as the world’s most important bilateral relationship (Abe, 2004), as ‘indispensable’ (fukaketsu) (Abe, 2006: 129), and as the ‘cornerstone [kaname] of Japan’s diplomacy’ (Abe, 2007). More recently, he told the US Congress that America’s ‘rebalance’ policy would ‘enhance the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific’ (Abe, 2015). Abe’s acceptance of such principles draws attention to a further normative dimension of an Abe Doctrine that can be interpreted as realist (e.g. Liff, 2015). In short, the doctrine demonstrates a strong preference for deterrence over autonomy as an appropriate national policy. This is a major departure point from nationalist characterizations of the Abe Doctrine, even as a preference for deterrence rests on similarly threat-centric expectations of regional security. The North Korean nuclear program and the rise of China represent major security threats to Japan, a view shared by both nationalists and realists. Abe has adopted a less strident approach on China, for instance, than Koizumi Jun’ichirō (Hornung, 2014; Envall, 2017b) even while maintaining a hard line not only on China but also North Korea (Hughes, 2015, 2016; Oros, 2017). More important, however, is how Abe aims to respond to these threats. As Liff (2015) observes, the Abe Doctrine explicitly understands Japanese defense in terms of cooperative deterrence. The Abe cabinet’s 2014 constitutional reinterpretation (MOFA, 2014a) states that ‘[n]o country can secure its own peace only by itself’. Insecurity, according to realist expectations, can only be addressed by achieving greater deterrence through closer cooperation with the US and, in this context, by revising what constitutes ‘minimally necessary’ defense. Thus understood, an Abe Doctrine represents a contemporary upgrading of an earlier approach set out by figures such as Kubo Takuya and Okazaki Hisahiko in the 1970s, described by Mike Mochizuki (1983/84: 168) as military realism (see also Kawasaki, 2001; Samuels and Schoff, 2013). Both view Japanese security as best protected by maintaining membership of the democratic international community and boosting the credibility of US extended deterrence. 4 Assessing the Abe Doctrine: policy prescriptions The next step is to outline the policy prescriptions that have emerged for the Abe Doctrine. Nina Tannenwald (2005: 16) describes policy prescriptions as ‘programmatic ideas’ that are derived from the beliefs, principles, and expectations underpinning doctrine. As they are intended to address specific policy problems, they can be seen as reformulations of the causal beliefs within a policy doctrine. In a sense, they represent the articulation in policy terms of the means – ends thinking that emerges from debates over policy ideas. The focus here, as Tannenwald (2005: 16) explains, is on ‘specifying how to solve particular policy problems’. In fact, the so-called ‘pillars’ of the Abe Doctrine taken from the government’s National Security Strategy (NSS) (GOJ, 2013a) and explained by Hughes (2015) and others (e.g. Liff, 2015; Easley, 2017; Maslow, 2015; Envall, 2016b, 2017b; Oros, 2017) – that is, defense capability, the alliance, and regional diplomacy – offer a clear framework for better understanding the Abe Doctrine’s policy prescriptions. 4.1 Boosting defense capability First, in terms of defense capability, the Abe administration has sought to boost the country’s defense capabilities as a key policy prescription. This is reflected in a range of new policy reforms. However, the key example has been institutional, with the establishment of a National Security Council (NSC) in late 2013, which highlights decision-making coordination as a key prescription for defense capability. While also developing and overseeing an NSS (see GOJ, 2013a), the NSC has the role of establishing the country’s five-year defense procurement plan and harmonizing Japanese national security policy. It is also charged with acting as a central management agency for dealing with crises (Envall, 2016b). The NSS, in turn, identifies strategic challenges facing Japan as a ‘major player in world politics’ (GOJ, 2013a: 4) and the country’s aim to make a ‘proactive contribution to peace’ (GOJ, 2013a: 1), a translation of sekkyokuteki heiwashugi or ‘proactive pacifism’. This policy idea aims to boost Japan’s deterrence capacity, increase the country’s alliance cooperation with the US, and further develop Japan’s diplomatic activities around the region (GOJ, 2013a). The Abe administration has also sought to reorient the country’s defense posture and build up the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ (JSDF). This goal is evident in the fact that defense spending has grown steadily since 2012, when it was around ¥4.71 trillion (Military Balance, 2014) and will reach approximately ¥5.17 trillion in 2017 (Military Balance, 2017). Under the 2013 National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG), Japan is to build upon the earlier reorientation of the 2010 NDPG based on the ‘Dynamic Defense Force’ (DDF) concept. The JSDF is to become more proactive, more attuned to the risk of ‘grey-zone’ disputes, and more focused on Japan’s immediate territories, especially to the southwest (GOJ, 2010). Under Abe, the 2013 NDPG upgraded the DDF concept to a ‘Dynamic Joint Defense Force’ (DJDF) concept, emphasizing new technological capabilities, as well as ‘readiness, sustainability, resiliency and connectivity’ (GOJ, 2013b: 8). The Medium Term Defense Program for 2014–18, set up to provide the blueprint for the DJDF concept (GOJ, 2013c), pays particular attention to responding to ballistic missile attacks and attacks on ‘remote islands’ (GOJ, 2013c: 2). Greater hard-power capabilities are to be developed across a range of technologies. Furthermore, as part of the southwest reorientation, Japan is increasing its military presence on remote islands such as Yonaguni (Auslin, 2016; Envall, 2016b). Lastly, because the Abe administration has viewed past limitations on Japan’s capacity to act internationally as highly problematic in light of the more threatening regional strategic environment, it has sought to loosen these domestic restrictions. Consequently, the government has ‘reinterpreted’ the Constitution to allow Japan the right, under certain circumstances, to exercise collective self-defense (CSD, or shūdanteki jieiken). CSD refers to the right of a country to defend an ally if that ally comes under attack, including in space (e.g. Bisley, 2008; Hughes, 2013, 2017b). The process of reinterpreting the Constitution has proved complex and controversial, however. After negotiations between the Liberal Democratic Party and its fellow coalition member, Kōmeitō, the government issued a reinterpretation in 2014 and, in mid-2015, proceeded to pass the necessary legislation in the midst of considerable controversy, legal criticism, and public unease (Hughes, 2015). These negotiations ultimately led to restrictions being placed on the exercise of the CSD right, such as Japan’s survival needing to be threatened. However, the required CSD legislation was eventually passed in September 2015 (Hornung and Mochizuki, 2016; Envall, 2016b). 4.2 Deepening the alliance The Abe administration has also sought to address the policy problem of a more threatening regional environment by deepening Japan’s alliance with the United States. With this prescription in mind, it has cooperated closely with the US to develop a range of reforms, as set out in the US–Japan Defense Guidelines of 2015 (MOD, 2015) and the associated US–Japan Joint Vision Statement (MOFA, 2015b). The broader prescription has been to ensure that the alliance remains resilient in the face of a rapidly changing regional security environment and that the US maintains its central role in Asia-Pacific security. Japanese policymakers have, moreover, come to see Japan as having a crucial part to play in achieving these objectives. As then Minister of Defense Onodera Itsunori said in 2013 of the rebalance policy developed by the Barack Obama administration, it ‘cannot be realized without cooperation by its allies and partners’ (Onodera, 2013; see also Envall, 2016b). The changes enacted in reforming the alliance can be understood through three broad prescriptions. First, the two sides have sought to introduce greater flexibility in bilateral cooperation, including in uncertain strategic environments or potential ‘grey zone’ conflicts, with a view to increasing the alliance’s deterrence capacity (Liff, 2015; Oros, 2017). The Guidelines allow for Japan and the US to engage in more joint actions, with the aim of aligning national policies across the respective governments in a ‘whole-of-government’ coordination process (MOD, 2015: 3). The Guidelines develop an Alliance Coordination Mechanism aimed at furthering integration (ittaika) (MOD, 2015) across many joint activities. They also emphasize the need for flexible deterrent and de-escalation options (MOD, 2015). Indeed, in their Vision Statement, the two countries state that they seek to ‘reinforce deterrence’ as a key objective (MOFA, 2015b). Second, the Abe administration has accepted the need for Japan to take on a greater role within the alliance. As Tomohiko Satake (2016: 28) explains, the Defense Guidelines constitute an upgrade to the alliance that contains an important ‘trade-off’ between the two parties – that is, reassurance from the US in return for greater burden-sharing by Japan. Japan’s internal capability building, as noted above, contributes to this end, as does the agreement to create a more integrated alliance. The major component, however, has been the Abe administration’s commitment to CSD and the incorporation of this into the Defense Guidelines under the heading ‘actions in response to an armed attack against a country other than Japan’ (MOD, 2015: 15). Japan has committed to defend the US, or possibly other close partners, in accordance with the domestic changes undertaken by the Abe administration noted earlier. Third, the Abe administration has supported the policy prescription of seeking to tie the alliance more tightly to a wider regional security architecture, a move that links in with Japan’s own more active partnership building in the Indo-Pacific. The aim is for Japan and the US to ‘take a leading role in cooperation with partners to provide a foundation for peace, security, stability, and economic prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond’ (MOD, 2015: 18). Although the Guidelines talk of global activities, the emphasis is on the Indo-Pacific, thereby also incorporating India. The logic behind these moves is that, by having the alliance play a role in the development of such relationships, Japan can ensure that the alliance and America remain central to regional and Japanese security. 4.3 Pursuing Indo-Pacific diplomacy Regarding Japan’s Indo-Pacific diplomacy, the Abe administration has pursued the idea of engaging more with the region as a major policy prescription, not only with a view to buttressing America’s position in Asia, but also to support what it views as the region’s ‘liberal international order’. Indeed, as the NSS outlines, the government views the protection of this order ‘based on rules and universal values’ as in Japan’s ‘national interests’ (GOJ, 2013a: 4). The Abe administration’s prescriptions for regional diplomacy, therefore, mix a type of values-based rhetoric with a realist counterbalancing logic (see also Abe, 2013b). In arguing for a ‘democratic security diamond’ to ‘safeguard the [region’s] maritime commons’, Abe (2012) has expressed a need to counter the emergence of a ‘Lake Beijing’ in the region with a democratic coalition. In this respect, Abe’s approach follows on from an earlier idea presented by Minister of Foreign Affairs Tarō Asō to establish an ‘Arc of Freedom and Prosperity’ (Aso, 2007; see also Hughes, 2015; Oros, 2017). In contrast to previous Japanese regional diplomacy, which has been characterized by greater multilateralism (see Envall and Fujiwara, 2012), the Abe administration has adopted a more bilateral approach, cultivating separate partnerships around the region. While it has focused most notably on building a relationship with the Philippines, the Japanese government has also been active in Southeast Asia more generally, through emerging relationships with countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia (Hung, 2016). The government has sought to develop these relationships through the concept of strategic partnerships outlining a range of areas for practical bilateral cooperation. In terms of outputs, Japan’s two chief strategic partners thus far have been India and Australia (the latter also linked through the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue with both Japan and the US). For the Abe administration, the India partnership owes much to jointly held perceptions of the region’s strategic challenges and, importantly, represents a prescription for reducing Chinese influence across a wider Indo-Pacific (e.g. see Hughes, 2009, 2015; Envall, 2014; Envall and Hall, 2016). The Australia relationship has also been significant in terms of establishing a US-centric order encompassing both security and trade. Greater defense technology cooperation, albeit excluding submarines, has also been of particular interest to the two countries (Bisley and Envall, 2016; Wilkins, 2016; Envall, 2016a, 2018). Under Abe, Japan has also sought to reform how it engages with the region. This prescription covers new policies on official development assistance (ODA), weapons exports, and joint exercises. Japan now places more emphasis on the strategic dimension of its ODA. The 2013 NSS highlighted the necessity of providing ‘seamless assistance’ in security and therefore developing ‘further strategic utilization of ODA and capacity building assistance’ (GOJ, 2013a: 30). On weapons exports, the Abe administration has continued on an already established process of loosening restrictions (MOFA, 2014b, 2014c), which has in turn led to multiple technology transfer arrangements (e.g. MOFA, 2015a; see also Auslin, 2016; Easley, 2017). Finally, Japan has sought to grow its joint training activities and has participated in multiple exercises, not only with India and Australia, but also with Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, albeit typically in a multilateral context and following the lead of the US (MOD, 2016). 5 Abe’s underlying logic: ‘regional realism’ Verbalized policy ideas do not inevitably lead to corresponding policy prescriptions. Many other factors, material and social, might shape this process, including international pressures, bureaucratic procedures, or societal influences (Tannenwald, 2005). Yet central policymakers are directly linked into the policymaking process and have considerable influence over this process. So, while it may not be inevitable, it is reasonable to expect a degree of consistency between ideas and prescriptions. Indeed, the notion of consistency provides a useful way to consider the influence of different ideas on policy prescriptions. Where the Abe Doctrine's policy prescriptions are consistent with certain policy ideas, it is reasonable to assume that these ideas were influential. Conversely, if there is little consistency, this raises doubts as to their impact (on consistency, see George, 1979). To what extent, then, are the nationalist and realist parts of the Abe Doctrine’s policy ideas consistent with its policy prescriptions? Based on this analysis, there appears to be little consistency between the Abe Doctrine’s nationalist policy ideas and its policy prescriptions. The transformational expectations of Abe’s nationalism, illustrated by his emphasis on historical revisionism and patriotism, imply that the doctrine will be one of radical transformation – the ending of the post-war regime, and a return to a patriotic, perhaps even militarist, Japan. However, the Abe Doctrine’s policy prescriptions exhibit considerable continuity with past practice, such as with the DDF policy. Likewise, on regional engagement, including ‘intra-spoke’ security cooperation with other partners of the US, the Abe Doctrine picks up programs already well underway before Abe returned to power (Tow and Envall, 2011). Across the different pillars of its policy prescriptions, therefore, the Abe Doctrine works within an established institutional framework. Rather than nationalist ideas playing a lead role in shaping the Abe Doctrine’s policy prescriptions, therefore, the logic of military realism appears to have had a more significant impact. This is apparent especially in the Abe Doctrine’s prescriptions for the US–Japan alliance, but the realist logic tying Japan to the alliance also permeates through the Abe Doctrine’s internal capability and regional diplomacy policies. Most importantly, the Abe Doctrine prioritizes deterrence over autonomy. This can be seen in policy prescriptions such as building greater alliance integration (ittaika), taking on a greater share of the alliance burden, or engaging more with the region. The doctrine’s CSD reforms have been controversial, and the manner in which Abe has carried these out speaks poorly of his grasp of liberalism. Yet they are clearly focused on deterrence in cooperation with the US rather than in the pursuit of strategic autonomy as might be expected if nationalist policy ideas had been more influential. Indeed, this is a key criticism of CSD made by Hughes (2017b: 115) when he argues that the limits placed on CSD are ‘toothless’ and make Japan more susceptible to pressure (from the US) regarding the use of force. Why have nationalist ideas regarding autonomy given way to realist thinking on deterrence, especially in terms of the US–Japan alliance? Perhaps Japan is adopting the ‘paradoxical logic’ identified by Mochizuki (2007: 12) of cooperating more closely with the US now in order to gain greater autonomy later (see also Envall, 2008b). This is close to the idea of saying ‘yes’ to the alliance until Japan is ready to wield power at some later point (Samuels, 2007: 122). Such a hedging strategy could prove useful in light of the doubts over America’s commitment to Japan under President Trump, especially in terms of extended nuclear deterrence (Satoh, 2017; Taylor and Envall, 2017). Yet there is little sign in the Abe Doctrine of Japan leveraging greater alliance contributions to pursue independent policy initiatives elsewhere, and certainly no indication that the Abe administration foresaw, and was therefore able to hedge against, a Trump presidency in this way. Moreover, it is significant that deterrence is so often viewed in cooperative terms within these policy prescriptions. Short of abandonment by the US, Japan now appears to view a more autonomous deterrence capacity as offering ever fewer benefits in the face of the country’s diminishing ‘economic and strategic weight’ (Taylor, 2011: 872). This lack of nationalism also raises questions as to Abe’s role as leader. Why would Abe push so strongly, controversially, and publicly in a nationalist direction, but then implement policy prescriptions more closely aligned to a different set of ideas? It is true that Abe is not an anti-establishment populist in the mould of Koizumi (Envall, 2008a). Yet Abe’s nationalism otherwise appears to be sincerely held. Is Abe perhaps more pragmatic than is commonly understood? Although Abe is sincere in his nationalism, he may simply accept that politics is the art of the possible and therefore be willing to compromise in order to realize certain goals. Samuels (2003: 230) describes Abe’s grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke (a strong influence on Abe’s political thinking), as ‘the equal of any realist politician in history’. Possibly Abe has simply followed his grandfather’s realism rather than his nationalism. More likely, however, the lack of nationalism can be attributed to both the realities of Japan’s international environment and the constraints of Japan’s political institutions. In this respect, the Abe Doctrine may not be that dissimilar to the Yoshida Doctrine. Although principally shaped by its author, the Yoshida Doctrine was institutionalized by other figures and was thus also subject to an array of domestic and international influences (Samuels, 2007; Oros, 2008; Envall, 2015b). While it is certainly realist, the Abe Doctrine nonetheless represents an important shift for Japan. It has implications in terms of both the extent to which Japan is likely to engage in world affairs in future as well as the probable breadth of its engagement. First, in its recalibration of risk, as highlighted by Hughes’s (2017b) criticism of the CSD reforms, the Abe Doctrine continues the process of expanding Japan’s security role. In arguing that this is a ‘genuinely radical trajectory’, however, Hughes (2017b: 126) overlooks the past two decades of such expansion. In particular, the Abe Doctrine represents a continuation of Japan’s shifting approach to the abandonment‒entrapment and autonomy‒deterrence dilemmas: that is, from a situation of fearing entrapment and seeking greater autonomy to one of fearing abandonment and seeking greater deterrence (see Green, 2001; Samuels, 2007). Samuels (2007) charted the progression of such ideas into policy prescriptions a decade ago, particularly with regard to CSD. Significantly, he identified the decision in 1998 (following North Korea’s missile test) to conduct joint research with the US on ballistic missile defense (BMD), along with the subsequent 2002 decision of Ishiba Shigeru and Moriya Takemasa to participate in the US BMD program. Hughes (2013: 133) describes BMD as a ‘driver of remilitarizing trends’. It is also a sign of Japan’s declining fear of entrapment and its desire for greater deterrence. The Abe Doctrine puts such policy ideas into practice by allowing Japan to take up a more proactive security role. Second, even as this strategic expansion occurs, the Abe Doctrine is also narrowing Japan’s security role. In fact, this constitutes the doctrine’s most significant change and might be described as Japan’s new regional realism. Such regional regionalism is evident in: Japan’s strategic pivot to the southwest; the vague, ambivalent and even perfunctory assessment of the country’s global role in the NSS; the limited references to a global role for the alliance in the Defense Guidelines; and the overwhelmingly regionalist nature of the government’s partnership building efforts. It does not imply that Japan will avoid developing relationships outside the region. But it does signify a major, if largely unspoken, reorientation away from the idea of Japan being a ‘global civilian power’, which underpinned the country’s globalism of the 1990s (Inoguchi and Bacon, 2006). Instead, the Abe Doctrine appears to be moving Japan closer to the type of regional power defined by Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver (2003: 34) – that is, a state whose power can define its regional order ‘but does not extend much beyond’ that order. It is true that, under this simultaneous expanding and narrowing of its security role, Japan cannot retain ‘full strategic autonomy’ (Hughes, 2017b: 120). However, this regional realism does allow Japan to vary its response to the entrapment‒abandonment dilemma and so retain some autonomy while also increasing deterrence. For contingencies that do not meet the criteria – most likely out-of-region crises – Japan keeps some autonomy to avoid entrapment. For contingencies that do meet the criteria – most likely regional crises – Japan trades this autonomy for greater deterrence in a context in which autonomy would likely be of less value. At the core of the Abe Doctrine, therefore, and notwithstanding the possible greater risks due to the Trump presidency, lies a calculated risk aimed at managing a more challenging regional security environment. It is in this sense that the Abe Doctrine most resembles the logic developed by military realists of the past. 6 Conclusion Abe Shinzō has already had a profound effect on Japanese politics. As he has pushed Japan towards taking on a more proactive role in international affairs, his impact on Japan’s foreign and security policy doctrine has been equally significant. Still, as this article has demonstrated, the nature of the Abe Doctrine has been the subject of considerable debate. Characterizing the Abe Doctrine is complicated by Abe’s leadership style and policy ideas, the interplay between Abe and national politics in Japanese policymaking, and the rapidly shifting strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific. Indeed, the emergence of the Abe Doctrine has stretched the capacity of hitherto useful concepts, particularly revisionism, to clearly explain the so-called normalization process in Japanese foreign and security policy. At its heart, the Abe Doctrine reveals a lack of consistency between some of its policy ideas and policy prescriptions. The former contains strong nationalist elements, while the latter is more in line with the long-term realist evolution of Japan’s strategic posture. This is not to argue that changes such as on CSD are not a key moment in Japan’s engagement with the world. Nor is it to suggest that Abe has not played a significant role in bringing about this outcome. When Hughes (2017b) argues that in the longer term the Abe Doctrine will push Japan towards an expanding security role, potentially including the use of force, he is accurately pinpointing the doctrine’s underlying logic. Accordingly, the Abe Doctrine does represent a major reassessment by Japanese policymakers of the country’s strategic circumstances and, in turn, how the country calculates its entrapment–abandonment dilemma. In pushing for a greater level of deterrence to meet perceived regional security threats, the Abe administration is assessing abandonment as a greater risk than entrapment and so prioritizing deterrence over autonomy. But it is less a radical turn than a logical end-product of a long-term strategic realignment. As a set of foreign and security policy prescriptions, it is chiefly a realist rather than nationalist doctrine. Debates over the Abe Doctrine should not stop therefore at whether it is nationalist or realist, radical or evolutionary. It is also important to examine how the doctrine, in the context of a rapidly changing security environment, is nudging Japanese foreign and security policy in new, and maybe unexpected, directions. The trade-offs Japan is attempting to balance – between entrapment and abandonment and between autonomy and deterrence – are inherently complex and so generate risks as well as opportunities. Japan’s response under the Abe Doctrine, this article contends, has been to begin reorienting the country’s strategic purpose away from a global outlook and towards a more limited regional perspective. This logic can be found across the Abe Doctrine’s policy prescriptions even if it is not always articulated in its policy ideas. As Abe is likely to continue in power for some time, further changes, even nationalist ones, may emerge. For now, however, the Abe Doctrine appears to be moving Japan onto a new path, one not so much directed at becoming a great or a middle power but aimed, instead, at becoming a regional power pursuing a form of regional realism. Acknowledgements The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their generous and constructive feedback during the drafting of this article. The article has also benefited from conversations with numerous people, including William Tow, Brendan Taylor, Kerri Ng, Rikki Kersten, Yusuke Ishihara, and Megan O'Donnell. 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International Relations of the Asia-Pacific – Oxford University Press
Published: Jun 4, 2018
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