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IGU 2013

Second Draft
Who Protects Whom?

Japan’s Security Identification and the Tohoku Earthquake
Atsuko Watanabe

The University of Warwick, Department of Politics and International Studies


The last two and a half years were unusual for the Japanese—who have enjoyed peace for nearly seventy years under the American nuclear umbrella—in the sense that they more strongly than ever perceived security as their own immediate problem. The Tohoku Earthquake and the subsequent disaster of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011 vividly showed that the real contemporary threats could be natural disasters—which is inherently local—whose possibility is ever-increasing today. During the tragedy and its recovery process, there have been abundant fragments that evoke memories of war: death, military forces, nuclear power, America, the emperor, and so on. The experience was in fact accepted as the third defeat by the Japanese, following the opening of the country in the 19th century and the defeat in the Pacific War, and fostered the debate for amending the peace constitution.

Japan’s long-lasting reluctance to rearm is one of the puzzles that conventional security studies do not find any specific reasons for other than Japan’s so-called pacifism. As several scholars argue, the country has been seemingly fully ready to become a “normal” military actor, given the dramatically changing international structure, domestic institutions, and the growing hostilities of its neighboring countries. Due not only to the earthquake of 3.11 and the consecutive largest-ever rescue operation but also to the anticipated major earthquakes in the next few decades, the Self Defense Forces (SDF) seem to have finally found their place in Japanese society, as an opinion survey shows the historically highest positive feelings towards the SDF. In this respect, one of the main concerns for scholars engaged in East Asian security issues is obviously whether the advent of these highly realistic threats that conjure images of war could become the one final push for Japan’s official rearmament and normalization.

Bearing this larger concern in mind, this paper addresses the following question: Has the subjectivity of Japanese national security changed throughout the experience of the Earthquake? I argue that since the end of WWII until now, Japan has been lacking clear security identification, especially in terms of who is protected. Largely because of its specific geographical security arrangement under the Japan-US Security Treaty, US forces has been confined within Okinawa and makes their existence near invisible from the mainland of Japan. Since its birth, this security arrangement has been defined in terms of geography, which has expanded from within the Far East towards a “global alliance.” Has this re-territorialized threat brought any change for this gradually de-territorialized arrangement? As a starting point for the analysis, I employ the concepts of securitization and reference object of the Copenhagen School of International Security Studies (ISS). Then I conduct a poststructuralist discourse analysis relying on the positioning theory of social psychology developed by Rom Harré et al, which focuses on how actors position themselves in co-constructed games of power rather than delineating what kind of identity a country has, as conventional constructivist security studies do. In so doing, I hope to show that, in Japan’s security arrangement, with strong tensions between regional and global, the Japanese themselves are historically referred to as a security subject only indirectly, no matter what kind of threat it has. As a result, Japanese securitization has been partly, if not largely, failing.

This article proceeds in five parts. First, I briefly sketch the Copenhagen School’s theory of securitization and introduce their critique. Then I explain my analytical framework based on positioning theory, which could to some extent supplement securitization theory’s limitations. Third, I examine the Japanese developments of securitization and security identification: first in a larger historical context, and then in relation to 3.11. In the final section, I conclude the argument by considering the possible explanations of the continuing lack of Japanese security identifications.

Securitization and Referent Objects: Limitation, or Flexibility?

At the outset of my inquiry, I want to present two questions. First, should natural disasters be treated as a security issue? Second, is it acceptable for a nation to be protected by other states’s military? It is probably the Copenhagen School’s theory of securitization that provides the most useful concepts to consider these questions. Buzan, concerning the growing tension between “the state as the protector of ‘its citizens’ security and the state as a threat to its own individuals,” coined the term “referent object,” paving the way to treat new issues as security issues and to widen securitizing actors beyond the state. Their securitization theory, drawing on Austin’s speech act theory, Schmittian understanding of security and exceptional politics, and traditionalist security debates, argues that security has “a particular discursive and political force and does something—securitize—rather than an objective (or subjective) condition” (Buzan and Hansen 2009, p. 213-214). Hence, they states, security is a “self-referential practice,” “a specific way of framing issue,” in which the issue becomes security issue (Wæver 1996). Since security is about survival, in its discourse, “something is presented as existentially threatened” and “we” must use “extraordinary means to handle the threat” before it exceeds “a possible point of no return.”

However, it should be noted that the school at the same time limits the referent object of security within state and society, avoiding the limitless expansion of the concept to individual human security. Wæver (1996, p.104), analyzing “Europe” as a security referent, argues that if the referent departs from the state towards individuals, it is paradoxically quite easy to move simultaneously “all the way up and all the way down: individual security is the security of the single individual is the security of all individuals is the security of humankind is global security,” which he sees as problematic as a concept of security. In addition, he states, a usually “overlooked distinction” between referent objects and actors should be examined, with the question of “in whose name is the security operation conducted?” but not “security for whom?” (Wæver 1996, p.107). What is clarified here is that these acts are in practice operated by smaller groups in the name of wider collectives and this question is getting more important—given that the government of the state does not necessarily represent its people—as the composition of society is becoming more complex. If a regime does not legitimately represent its people and is not be able to mobilize wider groups, its framing of security cannot be successfully pronounced as “our” security, which means that the securitization could fail. In this respect, the actors are naturally limited to relatively stable and powerful governments or institutions. Moreover, the school explicitly links referent object to territory by excluding individuals from its candidates. In sum, while the theory significantly expands the field of inquiry for security studies by employing speech act theory, it at the same time limits its invocation by presenting a systematic, and hence relatively rigid, definition of security. In other words, the school see security as inherently geographical, which works on a specific people.

Although this restriction is their deliberation for a more precise theorization, it is on this point that the powerful critiques of the school have raised concerns, especially in terms of the theory’s applicability to countries outside the West, where the state is relatively weak and freedom of speech is more or less restricted. In these countries, their governments do not necessarily represent their people’s voice. Hansen (2000) questions what happens if “insecurity cannot be voiced, when raising something as a security problem is impossible or might even aggravate the threat being faced.” Naming the situation that a potential subject of security “has no, or limited possibility of speaking its security problem” ‘security as silence,’ she maintains that rather than limiting the referent object, we should examine how discourses are produced through the practice. Austin’s speech act, Hansen asserts, assumes that the subject who speaks precedes the speech, and that significantly limits referent objects. Relying on Judith Butler’s performativity, she points out that even speaking subjects are constituted not only through speeches but also through actions.

Wilkinson (2007) likewise argues that because of the “Westphalian straightjacket” which sees the state as universal, the theory does not explain non-Western countries’ experiences. The Copenhagen School considers securitization as a linear process: “starting with a securitizing actor who then construct a referent object and threat narrative to be accepted or restricted” by its audience. However, in reality, she states that the process could “start at any point, with the component parts developing simultaneously and contributing each other’s construction.” In her case of Kyrgyzstan, while the referent object was constructed relatively quickly, the securitizing actor appeared much later, as the threat narrative developed. Moreover, she states, those narratives were accepted first on the local and then national levels. Wilkinson asserts that the school, by focusing the formalized state level and ignoring the local context, obscures “informal politics and their dynamics, which can possess significant influence and legitimacy.” In this respect, the linear process of securitization accomplished by self-referential practices by the state seems to be a luxury, which is allowed only for limited, if not only European, countries.   
Who Protects Whom? The Need for Subjects

While I largely agree with these critics, I want consider the same issue from a slightly different point of view. In relation to my second question presented at the begining of the last section, my query here is: Who needs the referent object? If security is a “self-referential practice” of framing an issue, and if there is tension between the state as a protector of its citizens and the state as threat to them (Buzan and Hansen 2009), this tension immediately indicates two possible answers and an implication to my question. First, the statecraft needs referent object. Second, the people have to be identified as a direct referent object or be mentioned in relation to it for its survival. Finally, however, these needs possibly do not match. Wæver (1996, p107-108) insists that once referent objects and actors are distinguished, the range of the collectives with demands for survival becomes naturally clear. The scope of actors as well is limited. In practice, according to him, it is smaller groups who act in the name of the larger collective. These smaller groups can be “politicians, activists, and academics” who “make a choice when they treat something as a security issue” (emphasis in the original). This distinction has been overlooked because of general acceptance that the collectives have a right to survival of and the actor can act on its behalf, which has been becoming increasingly doubtful because of the development of globalization. Meanwhile, when a regime holds no or less legitimacy as a securitizing actor, they try to construct the threats by referring to “the environment,” “nation” and so on, which have “no formalized spokesman and different groups can attempt to make such appeals.” In this respect, security as well as threats are “not objective matters and security is a way to frame and handle an issue.”

In sum, for Wæver, “self” has to be smaller groups within a society that includes larger groups that can be its referent object for a successful securitization. To use Austin’s terminology, this might be the minimum felicity condition for securitization, in which “particular persons and circumstances in a given case must be appropriate for the invocation of the particular procedure” (Potter, p. 44). When the actor is not appropriate for the performative utterance, they tend to look for their legitimation by mentioning larger and ambiguous notions as referent objects in search for the possibility of the felicity matching of securitization. In this way, the tension between the state as citizens’ protector and that as citizens’ threat is compromised, making the state as almost the only securitizing actor in the end.

However, in my point of view, at least three points are missing in this argument. First, is the securitizing actor who needs the referent object only one? Second, is the actor always an insider? Third, what about the subject’s side of will? Is it unproblematically assumed that they always want to be protected? As I will explain in detail, under Japan’s current security arrangement with the US-Japan Alliance, both Japan and the United States, fundamentally an outsider for Japanese society, could be securitizing actors. Rather, under this arrangement, it is more the United States and less their own government that in practice protects the Japanese people. Then, how do the Japanese understand and accept the framing (by whom)? Is there any autonomy for them to choose by whom they are protected?

Thus, the tension Buzan points out is in reality not between the two but can be within multiples, possibly including outside voices. Once the multiplicity of the voices that form both securitizing actors and referent objects are taken into consideration, securitization becomes not simple “self-referential practice” of framing an issue by a securitizing actor and an acceptance/rejection by its audience. Some of these voices, as Hansen mentions, might be silent ones. Also, as Wilkinson asserts, in countries where society is not stable, the developments of these voices are more multiple and complex, involving the external forces. To illustrate, the unexpected evolution of NATO shows that for even European countries, the process could be much more complex. Moreover, the term “Spaceship Earth” shows the widely shared sense that “we” all are in the same global security community. As Krasner(1995) argues, the reality is that the Westphalian model “has never been more than a reference point or a convention” (also see Ó Tuathail 1998). If so, securitization could be successful not because someone has said so and their people admit it. Rather, it could be successful when through both positive and negative interactions, the reference of securitization begins making sense among several actors and hence becomes performative, whose outcome can be an unexpected one, involving unexpected groups and actors.

Then, as indeed Wæver insists, when individuals are identified as a referent object, the referent could unlimitedly expands towards global security, because of this contingency. Nevertheless, isn’t this a disposition of security? Foucault (2007, p. 42-47) states that the apparatus of security, which had developed in the 18th century, is fundamentally conducted on the “level of population,” as a power of “lets things happen.” Therefore the population as a collective subject is very different from that of people, a subject created by the social contract. The people are “generally speaking those who resist the regulation of population, who try to elude the apparatus by which the population exists.” While discipline is the power to regulate and divide, allowing nothing to escape within a limited space, the mechanisms of security “works on the basis of this reality, by trying to use it as a support and make it function, makes its components function in relation to each other.” Thus, the apparatuses of security are centrifugal with “the constant tendency to expand.” Throughout the process, “new elements are constantly being integrated... Security therefore involves organizing, or anyway allowing the development of ever-wider circuits.” It is the “regulation within the element of reality”. Then, it is within this regulation where security expands limitlessly where the multiple voices try to find their own subjectivities interpreting the realities in accordance with their own needs through their action and speech, rather than insisting on their own truth by framing a specific issue.

Positioning, Story-line, Co-constructed Meaning: The Intersection of Time and Eternity

Stuart Hall (1996, p.1-3), presenting the question of “who needs identity?” in order to consider the question of agency in politics through the elusive character of contemporary identity, states that identities are better understood as identification. It “points to temporary attachment to the subject positions which discursive practices construct for us,” which is always in process, rather than identity, as a result of a series of discursive representation. It is never unified and “never singular but multiply constructed across different, often intersecting and antagonistic discourses, practices, and positions.” How can this process of identification, for my case study, in transnational and inter-cultural level, be analyzed in practice?

Instead of a theatrical perspective between actor and audience, which Copenhagen School and some other constructivist scholars suggests (for example, Ringmar 1996, Hansen 2006), I propose to see all participants to be simultaneously actors as well as audience. Rather than examining boundaries as a result of an actor’s self-framing of an issue and how the practice are accepted by its audience, my focus is how each actors situate themselves within overlapping discursive fields, where the multiple actors are trying to secure their own positions, in order to make sense their actions. The fields are multiple and overlapping due to spacial, cultural, and historical differences and commonalities and the overlapping area has been undeniably widening in the course of globalization. Of course, my focus is on the overlapping space but we should bear in mind that the fields are inherently multiple and cannot be integrated, specifically in transnational level.

While agents are confined in structure, they create structure simultaneously (Hajer 1995; Mills 1997; Williams 2007). What is delineated here is subject positions, which should be distinguished from political subjectivity. Howarth and Stavrakakis (2000, p.13), drawing on Laclau and Mouffe, explains, “if the concept of subject positions accounts for the multiple forms by which agents are produced as social actors, the concept of political subjectivity concerns the way in which social actors act.”1 In other words, subject positions are a starting point of, or consecutive moments through, identification as a open-ended process. Here, the question is: First, under what conditions is a specific subject position—for example, in the case of Japan, a developed country, Asian country, homogeneous nation, etc.—preferred to other alternatives? Second, how does the position allow/constrain the subject’s actions? Third, how does the preference to positions change diachronically?

For this analysis, I employ positioning theory as originally established by Rom Harré et al. Arguing that “the constitutive force of each discursive practice lies in its provision of subject positions,” what it examine is the discursive process through which “selves are located in conversations as observably and subjectively coherent participants in jointly produced story-lines.” (Davies and Harré 1990). Positioning is understood as “a co-constructed game of power” (Moghaddam et al. 2008, p. 42). It is a conversational phenomenon and conversation is a social interaction which includes non-verbal contributions. Discourse analyzed here is defined as “an institutionalized use of language and language-like sign system” (Davies and Harré 1990).

The analytical framework of positioning is based on the triad of the position/action (illocutionary force)/story-line. Story-lines structure participants’ actions, being interpreted in various ways by them. In this respect, positions and story-lines are mutually constructive and norms, ideas, values, and so on are negotiable within the structure ( Moghaddam et al. 2008; Henriksen 2008). The sources of the story-lines are diverse but rooted in everyday experience, such as fairy tales, histories, soap operas, and so on. Through the encounters, story-lines are developed and realized intersubjectively. Hajer (1995, p. 56) explains the story-line as “a generative sort of narrative that allows actors to draw upon various discursive categories to give meaning to specific physical and social phenomena.” Once participants take positions, s/he sees the world from the vantage point and talks according to available story-lines, images, and metaphors, and may even be trapped in a web of them (Davis and Harré 1990; Hajer 1995). While narrative is a story that makes an identity meaningful, story-line is a common resource which can be interpreted in various ways but at the same time can trap the actors.

Positions can be crystallized into roles, while roles dissolve into positions. They are considered to be held by groups rather than individuals. As a consequence, selections of positions are necessarily intentional and multiple. At the same time, however, they are usually independent of motivation. Rather, people are trapped in motivations and seek ways of making sense (Moghaddam et al. 2008), changing their positions accordingly. Hence positions, which is inherently performative, are “created, occupied, held and abandoned through social interaction” ( Henriksen 2008, p. 42-48).

This volatility of positions is more evident for disadvantaged groups. While advantaged groups have a clear consciousness of role which is accompanied by duties and rights and hence their positions are relatively stable, disadvantaged groups tend to have difficulty defining their duties and rights and may not take distinctive roles accordingly. The traditional social identity theory unproblematically assumes that humans categorize people and all categories of people have a “universal motivation for a positive identity” (Moghaddam et al. 2008, p.150). In reality, a disadvantaged group could easily abandon their seemingly better positions when its members notice that a socially prestigious position could deprive them of their acquired rights. Moreover, when the disadvantaged group has internal conflict, the situation becomes complicated. This is the case for women who have successfully developed their careers in a male dominated society. They usually remains distant from their peers, act favorably towards men, and sometimes even block their peers following their success (p.149-163). Put simply, disadvantaged groups have more choices of positions and story-lines than the advantaged ones. In addition, their referent objects to justify their positions can be wider and inclusive, because they tend to rely on universal principles to enhance their positions. Hence, for disadvantaged groups, their positions are always elusive and unstable.

In order to their positions function, actors rely on specific story-lines. They could be deployed not only by one actor but by various actors in the overlapped discursive fields based on both their own interpretations and mutual understandings between actors in a particular temporal and spacial context. This leads us to the concept of “discourse coalitions” of socio-cognitive process (Hajer 1995, p.58). Through the co-constructed game of power, the discoursing subjects produce structures as well as are constrained by it. In this process of interaction, social arrangements are constantly adjusted, transformed, and reinvented. When a certain story-line becomes salient among multiple actors at a certain point of this process, here we see a “discourse coalition” emerge. However, it should be noted that they do not necessarily share the same cognition, for all actors select the story-lines from specific subject positions based on their particular understandings in their temporal and spatial contexts.

It might be criticized that the framework merely depicts “a starting point for reflecting upon the many different aspect of social life” (Harré et al. 1999, p.9) and positions might be understood as mere reactions of each situation. Nevertheless, by focusing on the positions where subjects are summoned up and story-lines rather than identity and actor-specific narratives, what I hope to clarify is continuity and change throughout social interaction. Once identity is considered as identification as a fundamentally open-ended process, which includes both self-identification and identification by others,2 it can be seen as a process with consecutive moments of positioning. If so, its change is traceable to some extent by examining these moments. As I will elaborate in the following sections, however, while positions are multiple and easy to be abandoned, story-lines, common resources between actors, which are developed intersubjectively, seem to be difficult to transform, or at least change relatively slowly.

This rigidity of story-lines is nevertheless clue to change. I would explain the reason in three steps. First, story-lines are a product of interactions among multiple actors and belong to no one. Second, these intersubjectively constructed “social objects” are composed by our political vocabularies which are rooted in our everyday language 3. Norval (2006, p.231-244) explains this using the term “political grammar.” Our political vocabularies like ‘liberty,’ according to her, “are neither set in stone nor easily amenable to change” because of the everyday-ness. In order to understand possibility of its change, she argues, we need to understand its grammar, which is “autonomous,” “cannot be falsified” and “cannot be correct or incorrect,” in a genealogical fashion. Relying on Wittgenstein, she states that our difficulties with language-in-use stem from “the simplicity and familiarity of things.” Because of these simplicity and familiarities, we don’t notice the “aspect of things.” The change of this aspect is realized not when it has its elements transformed but “the way we see them” (emphasis added) has changed. In other words, the aspect perception which is sedimented through repeated acts over time, could be changed when the relations between objects has shifted. It should be noted that this shift is distinguished from framing of an issue, as theatrical perspectives often suggests, but patterns of framing an issue.

Finally, I argue that this familiarity and simplicity of everyday-ness has a spatial and historical dimension and could work as a medium for acceptance of foreign and new ideas which could induce change. Maruyama Masao (1972; 1988), mentioning that Japan’s ‘historical dynamism’ since the Edo Period (1603-1868) has been not just a simple path of modernization but the “complex process of multiple voices” in which the two momentums of modernity and “layers of histories” go hand in hand, likewise elaborates “framework of way of thinking” or “patterns of thoughts” (emphasis added). He claims that although the main theme of Japanese modernity is exotic, the “whole tone” resonates as distinctively Japanese. Calling this tone “basso ostinato,” a recurrent pattern of bass notes, he argues that exactly because of this continuity fostered in the homogenous society, modern Japan had accepted the great historical changes.

According to Maruyama (1972), Japan’s basso ostinato of history can be described as “momentum to ‘become’ one after another (tsugitsugi ni nariyuku ikioi).” It is this continuous pattern of thoughts that allowed Japanese to interpret foreign ideas into their own. To illustrate, Morris-Suzuki (1998) delineates how the notion of progress, combined with Japan’s traditional thought of nature as “constantly changing, constantly ‘becoming’ reality in which human beings are embedded,” had made its development to “universality” of its own interpretation. She argues that this understanding of progress justified the idea of the Japanese as the most advanced nation in Asia, and possibly the world into the future, which led them to define the Pacific War as their mission.4

In the 1850s when Japan had first consecutive international treaties with the United States, Townsend Harris, the first US ambassador to Japan, introduced the notion of international law. According to Yoshino (1927, p. 423-455), The term was first translated as bankoku futsuu no ho (universal law for all countries), which was generally understood as “the broad highway for all things universe.” Although Japan yielded to the unequal treaties due to the term, the Edo Shogunate abused this “universal law” to make people obey their weakening government, relying on the authority of the universal West (also see Maruyama and Kato 1998). Maruyama (1972, p. 207) argues that this understanding of international law was realized with the notion of tendo (the San’s route in the sky) of Confucianism as a legitimate medium. In both examples, ideas such as ‘universal’ or ‘progress’ were understood and interpreted in the specifically Japanese context of “momentum to ‘become’ one after another,” allowing the ideas to be accepted in Japanese society and hence to significantly transform it.

Meanings of any ideas and norms change through social interaction both in temporal and spacial contexts. The transformation could be realized exactly because we continuously consume and reproduce ideas and values through the filter of basso ostinato which hardly or, at most, slowly change. The knowledge born out of this process is, however, “multi-productive misunderstandings,” as the new knowledge produces new spatiality with slightly different interpretations (See Foucault and Watanabe 2007 [1977]). Indeed, historical perception is realized as knowledge “at the intersection of time and eternity” (Maruyama 1972, p. 350). What we should pay attention here is not the result of the interaction (i.e. if the understanding was right or not) but a “starting point,” “ambivalent” possibilities of to which direction it would develop (Maruyama 1960).

To sum up, from the positioning perspective, securitization as an institutionalized use of language is understood as a process of manifold practices through which multifarious voices and actions co-construct the story-lines of who protects whom. Through the process, both securing actors and referent objects are articulated as the apparatus of security of centripetal tirelessly integrates and organizes new elements of reality. When new threat is accepted as “making sense” by multiple actors, who simultaneously understand “who they are” in terms of the new threat, both of them could become reality with a political subjectivity, though with possibly different interpretations, expanding/limiting the community of security.

Economy and Peace-loving Peoples: Two Referent Objects in Japanese Security Discourse

Before examining the public debate after the Tohoku Earthquake, I begin my analysis by looking back on the historical development of the Japanese security debate. Japan-US security arrangements evolved after WWII might be an extreme example of how agents position through interactions in order to secure themselves. Facing the defeat, Japanese political elites desperately tried to ensure their own bottom lines through the negotiations with the vanquisher. Meanwhile, the United States had to show its ability as the new leader of the “peace-loving peoples” to the international community (Halle 1969). With these wishes and intentions, a power vacuum that the war brought on, physical distances, and so on, the negotiations and the way to the reconstruction traced a quite intricate path, accompanying even fancy interpretations of reality (See e.g. Dower 1979; Dower 2010; Ito 2011). Here, however, my concern is how the Japanese developed their story-lines through interactions mainly with Americans. For this analysis, I will concentrate on how the question of “who protects whom (what)” is represented in public rhetoric in terms of space and time.

As expressed in the Potsdam Declaration, the initial intention of the Allies was nothing but the total disarmament and demilitarization of Japan (U.S. Department of State 1994). Following this principle, Article 9 of the new Constitution, primarily drafted by GHQ (General Headquarters of the Allied Forces) and promulgated in 1946, prohibited Japan from having any military forces again. In 1951, the country signed the Peace Treaty of San Francisco and the Security Treaty Between the United States and Japan. Together with the Constitution, these treaties formed “the San Francisco System” (Dower 1979: p.371) of a separate peace, which excluded China, India, and the Soviet Union and its allies, putting Japan under the Pax Americana.

Nevertheless, in reality, this intention of the Allied Forces for Japan’s demilitarization changed abruptly even before the consolidation of the system began, as the hostility between the United States and the Soviet Union grew stronger. Consequently, the United States demanded Japan’s rearmament. Meanwhile, the greatest concern of the Japanese elites had been the preservation of the Kokutai, the national polity, which meant in practice protecting the emperor (Dower 1979). In this respect, some argue that it was the Japanese side that proposed the country’s war renunciation (Cf. Tsutsumi 2004). It was also Emperor Hirohito’s will to have the US military stay in Japan even after the Peace Treaty had been concluded (Ito 2011). The validity of these arguments is out of the scope of this paper, however, it has to be mentioned that the Japanese elites were, in this respect, happy to abandon their military capability for their greater purpose to protect the emperor system, at least for the time being.

Admittedly, this may be too simplified a delineation of the deeply complex postwar situation. Nevertheless, this brief sketch leads me to the point that this paradoxical but fundamental cleavage of the two countries’ intentions, together with the significant unevenness of the relationship in terms of power, provided plenty of raw discursive materials that allowed Japan, the disadvantaged, fancy interpretations based on particular story-lines in the game of power. Here, I mention the emergence of two story-lines, which has been salient in Japanese security discourse: Securitization of the economy and the peace loving peoples as their guardians, which deeply link with each other and have been reproduced repeatedly by various actors’ manifold voices.

The foundation of postwar Japan’s security arrangement begins no doubt with this passage in the Constitution. In the second paragraph of the preamble, it declares:

We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time and are deeply conscious of the high ideals controlling human relationship, and we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world. We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth. We recognize that all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want.5

Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru, in the Lower House plenary session when the proposed constitutional amendment was tabled, asserted that “Japan, facing this tragedy, for the purpose of retaining Kokutai and maintaining its people’s welfare, what has to be cleared up at the outset is the prevailing misunderstanding among countries that Japan’s traditional state apparatus could again threaten world’s peace.” Asked if even the “just” war in self-defense could be renounced by Nosaka Sanzo from Communist Party, Yoshida answered that even admitting that self-defense was just war “could be harmful” (Yoshida 1998a). In fact, the main topic of the session was not the abandonment of military but whether the new constitution would preserve the Kokutai or not. The logic from this vantage point of maintaining Kokutai was that Japan could be protected by other benign countries by entrusting their own life to them, the ideal of human relations revealed in the new Constitution.

This deployment of the strategy of desperation had grave consequences for postwar Japanese Diplomacy. First of all, it realized Yoshida’s specific diplomatic principle (later known as the Yoshida Doctrine). Kosaka Masataka (2006 [1963])6 analyzes that Yoshida, who served out as prime minister right after WWII for more than five and a half years, never gave priority to military forces but to economy. In 1950, as the Korean War broke out, the United States demanded that Japan rearm. Yoshida, facing the demand, explained to John Foster Dulles that if Japan rearmed, Asian countries would fear Japan’s revival of militarism. This was a deft twist of the strategy of desperation mentioned above. In the end, having General MacArthur as its sympathizer, Japan only formed a National Police Reserve of 75,000 men, rejecting America’s demand skillfully. Yoshida’s reluctance to rearm was indeed unshakable. After two years, the United States this time insisted that Japan should increase its troops to 305,000 for its homeland defense. Nevertheless, Yoshida again replied that Japan, being too exhausted by the defeat, had become a “jaded horse.” Now, he continued, the priority was “gaining economic strength in order to achieve stability of people’s livelihood” (Yoshida 1998). According to Dower (1979), he was able to become assertive because he believed in Japan’s geopolitical importance for the United States in terms of the Cold War.

This securitization of economy by Yoshida was accepted by Americans in the context of the strong fear of Japan turning red, which was shared among elites both in the United States and in Japan (Dower 1979). Irie (1966) warns that the prevailing understanding that the shift of America’s occupation policy was a geopolitical consequence of the development of the Cold War is an oversimplification. The United States, he states, assuming that the warfront was in Europe, did not take Japan as a strategic hub. So the occupation policy had already been changed in support of Japan’s economic growth. Therefore the United States, despite the outbreak of the Korean War, allowed Japan to reject their demand. As Kosaka (2006) asserts, “the fact that Japanse economy would not be able to endure the rearmament, together with the fact that there is no unarmed country on the Earth, was more convincing than any other arguments.” This economy-first principle has been handed down to his successors. Under the Ikeda administration, which was established after the struggle over the U.S.-Japan Security Pact in 1960 (Rokujyuunen Ampo), the culmination of this policy was seen. Setting the Income-Doubling Plan as a policy agenda, Ikeda set economism solidly in place. Ikeda asserted:

What is important in diplomacy are to enhance the country’s credibility, to be respected by liberal countries, and not to be disdained by the communist countries. To do so, stabilizing the domestic system is the priority. If we did not take high diplomatic profile without solidifying domestic situation, we would be insulted (The Asahi Shimbun 1960, quoted in Kosaka 2006)

Here again, Japanese existence was fundamentally affirmed by other nations. To do this, Japan should keep a low diplomatic profile. To be sure, as Kosaka (2006, p.144-146) points out, Ikeda’s plan “fired the Japanese enthusiasm” and led the country to experience remarkable economic growth, but it was not without a cost: the country’s independence. The ruling party tried to enhance the country’s independence by emphasizing the continuity of Japanese history which was symbolically represented by the emperor and his line “unbroken for ages eternal,” while the oppositional parties insisted on the maintenance of independence by the radical reformation of the social system. However, neither “the avant garde nationalism nor the traditional nationalism” was able to be realized in Japan.

Nevertheless, keeping a low diplomatic profile could be frustrating when the country became affluent. Ikeda, keenly understanding the importance of military capabilities in international relations through the experience of the Cuban Missile Crisis, thought that Japan had to cultivate human resources capable of dealing with security issues. According to Kosaka (2006: p.148-154), this was Ikeda’s intention when he launched the Council for Human Resource Development (Hitozukuri Kondankai) in 1963. In so doing, he tried to shift his policy from “building things” (Monozukuri) to “building human resources” (Hitozukuri). In stark contrast to his Income-Doubling Plan, however, his attempt to develop a “national compathy on national security policy” failed, being “misunderstood” in various ways. In this way, the economy solely had become Japan’s principal security issue.

Meanwhile, Yoshida’s twist of the desperation strategy contributed to form a salient story-line repeatedly performed by also some other actors across time and space. Kissinger, at the meeting with Zhou Enlai in 1972, stated that if America withdrew its troops from Japan, the country would become out of control and dangerous to its neighboring countries (Sankei Shimbun 2002). Known as the idea of “the cap in the bottle (bin no futa),” this argument returned in public rhetoric in 1990, his time by an American military officer. Lieutenant General Stackpole claimed that the second purpose of the U.S.-Japan Alliance was to contain Tokyo (Nikkei Shimbun 2012; Bandow 2012). As Bandow points out, “It is a claim that even Japanese officials have used on occasion: protect us, since surely you don’t want the Imperial Japanese navy wandering the Pacific again.” (Bandow 2012). Furthermore, this “‘stop us before we aggress again’ argument” is seen also in the left-wing protests against rearmament. Even Prime Minister Abe (2006, p.68), known as a staunch conservative, writes: “Japan, for more than a half century, standing up for liberty, democracy, and human rights, contributing world peace. It goes without saying that the world has been watching those Japanese actions.” Certainly, it is the peace-loving peoples who judge the Japanese government, and not the Japanese people. It is these peoples who protect the Japanese. In this respect, Abe and the left-wing protesters are equally “aggressive nationalists” who willingly would risk even their own security for world peace (Asaba 2004: p. 272). Furthermore, in this context, the United States as the cap in the bottle protects the peace-loving peoples from possible Japanese aggression. Thus, together with Kissinger and the military officer, they all are forming a loose discursive coalition, despite the fact that their political stances are different, admitting Japan’s reluctance to rearm “makes sense.”

This securitization of economy by the Japanese with the peace-loving peoples as their guardians, has two critical evolutions. First of all, it has hampered Japan’s ability to form its own security subjectivity. Second, it has obscured the U.S. military presence as Japan’s protector. These two critical weaknesses have been further reinforced by the geographical setting of the U.S.-Japan military alliance. Yamazaki (2002; 2005) argues that the arrangement of Japan’s territorial defense, relying on the “forward-deployed military forces and nuclear deterrence of the United States,” has contributed to the development of an “ambiguous defense subjectivity.” Since the end of WWII, the U.S. military presence had been largely confined within Okinawa, a southern island where the only ground battle was fought during the War. In the next section, I will examine these developments especially in terms of geographical references in security discourse.
From the Far East to Global: A Geographically Comprehensive Alliance

Hook and Son (2013, p.42) assert that the Japanese people, due to the harsh experience of the war, developed a “peace state identity” after the war. Because of this specific identity, “the government was unable to embed a security identity for Japan as an ally of the United States.” To be sure, the focal point of the domestic debate on the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and the SDF has been about the right of collective defense of Japan, especially with alignment to the United States. This agenda is even said to have been Japan’s largest political issue (Hughes 2006; Maeda 2007; Mathur 2007; Toyoshita 2008). During the Rokujyuunen Ampo in the 1960s, Premier Kishi ensured at the Diet that Japan did not have any obligation to protect the U.S. soil even if it was attacked. From the late 1970s to the 1980s, safety of the world’s sea lanes became a concern for Japan. As the Japan-U.S. joint exercises were routinized, whether the SDF would have to protect the US fleet if it was set upon by a third country was intensely debated. What was questioned at that time was whether the SDF had to defend the US fleet when it was attacked while the SDF was escorting it. According to Nishikawa (2008), whilst the responses of the government have been slightly different over time, they have largely converged on an interpretation that Japan could protect the U.S. Fleet in an effort of self-defense, but not as collective defense.

This line of debate has shown a new evolution as North Korea shows its aggressiveness in recent years. Hughes (2009, p. 293) points out that North Korea is “adept at creating for Japan alliance dilemmas of entrapment and, particularly, abandonment by generating and exploiting differences of threat perception between the bilateral allies.” Certainly, North Korea knows the contradiction between the two allies. During his visit to Japan in 2006, the U.S. deputy defense undersecretary for Asia and Pacific affairs was quoted as saying that it was “crazy” for Japan not to shoot down a missile heading toward the United States (Kyodo News 2006). Toyoshita maintains that it is totally incongruous that the conservative politicians who are aiming for the amendment of the “imposed” Constitution by the United States, can be intimidated by the United States in this way.

Here, however, even putting this inconsistency aside, what is bizarre is the ambiguity of the enemy. In 2004, Chief Cabinet Secretary Fukuda, facing the issues of the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan, complained, “in complying with the U.S. wishes, we sent the SDF to Iraq and decided to introduce missile-defense system. How come the United States wants to put Japan to annoyance this much?” (Toyoshita 2007). So it is the United States who impose, annoy, and intimidate Japan and much less North Korea. Isn’t it this dilemma of Japan’s that North Korea pokes at? This absence of the enemy was more striking in the debate when the Japanese government decided to send the SDF to Samawah, Iraq in 2003. While the issue was perceived to be whether the SDF could just stand by and watch once the forces of other countries were assaulted, there were neither explanations nor questions as to how the SDF would be protected by the troops from other countries (Toyoshita 2007), and less considerations of what will happen if they were attacked. All in all, for Japan, neither securitizing actors nor referent objects are clearly seen. Most notably, as Toyoshita points out, it seems to be no one but Japan who is in the blind spot of its own view. It is as if it is unproblematically assumed that the Japanese would be attacked by no one, as far as it behave well.

Having no clear view of who protects whom, Japan, with this peace identity, at a glance appears to prefer staying within the islands. In the official documents, the U.S.-Japan alliance has been defined in reference to region. Article 6 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty declares:

For the purpose of contributing to the security of Japan and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East, the United States of America is granted the use by its land, air and naval forces of facilities and areas in Japan.

This regional confinement has been in reality eroding, especially since the end of the Cold War, as threats to the United States are de-territorialized in security discourse. In the “Japan U.S. Joint Declaration on Security—Alliance for the 21st Century,” the two countries redefined their region as “Asia-Pacific” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan). Yamazaki (2005) argues that the re-strengthened U.S. Japan security arrangement had entered a new phase after 9.11. The United States elucidates Asia as a “region susceptible to large-scale military competition” in the Quadrennial Defense Review Report issued in 2001 and Japanese government is following suit. The year of 2005 was another crucial turning point for the alliance. Arase (2007: p. 580-581) points out that the issuance of the “U.S.-Japan Alliance: Transformation and Realignment for the Future” marked a “qualitatively new policy and operational alliance relationship.” In the press conference announcing the agreement, Defense Minister Ohno Yoshinori explained the change that “we’re now talking about joint activities in various areas between Japan and the United States in order to improve the peace and security around the world.” Condoleeza Rice likewise declared: “A relationship that was once only about the defense of Japan or perhaps about the stability in the region, has become a global alliance.” Curiously however, despite this significance, the meaning of this joint statement has been largely unnoticed domestically. Moreover, several years later, this development became controversial as a retired diplomat wrote about this change as a conspiracy in his best-selling book titled Unmasking the Japan-U.S. Alliance (Magosaki 2009).

However, this indifference does not necessarily mean that the Japanese people want the SDF staying within the Far East. This is obvious in the evolving role of the SDF in humanitarian operations. Japan, since it first took part in PKOs in 1992, has dispatched the SDF all over the world. This is an astonishing development given the massive resistance which insisted that overseas deployments could lead the country to remilitarization. In 2007, the peace keeping operations which “redress international security environment” was positioned as an “essential mission” for the SDF (Ministry of Defense). The ‘National Defense Program Guidelines’ issued in 2011 says:

The first objective of Japan’s security policy is to prevent any threat from directly reaching Japan and to eliminate external threats that have reached it so as to minimize the ensuing damage, and thereby secure the peace and security of Japan and its people. The second objective is to prevent threats from emerging by further stabilizing the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region and by improving the global security environment, so as to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order and ensure Japan’s security and prosperity. The third objective is to contribute to creating global peace and stability and to secure human security.7

Hook and Son (2013, p.46-47) maintains that the cumulative dispatches of the SDF led Japan to the “internalization of ‘humanitarian power’ as the most salient security identity” for three reasons. First, it had been experiencing increasing pressure to contribute to the world peace from the United States. Second, the structural change in the international system made the “peace state identity” defunct. Third, “because humanitarian activities are non-violent, the dissonance between the identity of Japan as a peace state and as an ally of the USA could be fused into the identities of Japan as a civilian or humanitarian power.”

To be sure, the humanitarian power identity who helps others in order to protect the self—a kind of karmic-backlash argument seen also in the Guideline—ostensibly lives up to the Japanese story-line of the peace loving peoples as their guardians. However, this new identity does not explain enough the awkward feeling of the Japanese toward the “global alliance” with the United States, seen for example in the bewildering reactions to the new policy mentioned above. If Japan now has a humanitarian identity, which harmonize with the American traditional missionary identity (Foglesong 2007), the question of collective security defense should be resolved, realizing the collective subjectivity of two countries. However, at present, there seems to be the long way to go towards its resolution. In other words, while the Japanese admit the overseas dispatch of the SDF, the “global alliance” is unacceptable for them.

Here, the Japanese notion of security might be a clue to understanding this inconsistency. According to Watanabe (2006), the notion of security in Japanese (anzenhoshou) is different from that of national security in English. For the Japanese, anzenhoshou is considered to be “comprehensive security,” which fundamentally includes non-military matters (see also Buzan and Hansen 2009, p.136). As we have seen, Japanese elites deployed a specific discourse which securitized their economy with reference to “peace loving peoples” in the early stages of the postwar period. Since then, Japanese referent objects have essentially been not the state, but in relation to people’s welfare and peace. As Wæver (1996) points out, when the referent object is individuals, it possibly expands toward cosmopolitans. This is the centrifugal power of security, in Foucault’s terminology. Consequently, the Obuchi administration and subsequent Mori administration put up human security8 as their main political agenda. In this context, it is natural for the Japanese to go outside of the state boundaries and the region to global, as far as it risk their own lives for the peace-loving peoples, while purely geographical expansion is unacceptable.

Although Japanese reluctance to rearm is largely explained in terms of pacifism as a result of the harsh experience of WWII by Western scholars (Hook et al. 2013, see also Bukh 2006), when the debate is analyzed in terms of the question of who protects whom, it is easy to identify that PKOs in reality have often been opposed on the grounds that the neighboring countries would worry about Japan becoming aggressive if it deployed its troops outside, not that the Japanese would worry that their government was becoming aggressive. However, interestingly, going back to history, according to Tanaka (2005), during the Rokujyuunen Ampo, even among the protestors terms like “wars of aggression,” “Asian Neighbors” were out of their concerns. At that time, opinion polls showed that the majority supported rearmament, indicating the striking absence of pacifism in the first postwar decade. Here, an implication is that these story-lines have been gradually developed as actions and historical events have accumulated. What has gradually changed in the course of time is indeed their pattern of seeing things, a political grammar. In this respect, Japanese pacifism should be understood within a wider and longer context of history, rather than as a simple result of the war. Throughout the development, the “stop us before we aggress again” argument, together with the peculiar notion of security, which is a product of Japanese interpretation through bassso ostinato, works as one of the main story-lines, which is utilized by various actors so as to give specific meanings to social phenomena.

Concerning the Japanese understanding of comprehensive security, Watanabe (2006) presents two questions: First of all, specifically after 9.11, has this peculiar understanding come to be shared among more peoples? Second, is the notion of security based on Schmitian understanding of friend/enemy relations still plausible? If the answers are assumed to be positive, isn’t it this crossroad of “time and eternity” in Maruyama’s words—rather than their common interests—that the Japanese and Americans have finally met at, rather than having the common humanitarian power identity? Keeping these questions in mind, I now turn to the analysis of discourse after 3.11.

Tomodachi in Need? Discourse after 3.11

Ó Tuathail (1998) argues that the emergence of “deterritorialized threats” and “global dangers” discourses can be understood “as long-delayed unfolding a logic of reflexive modernization in geopolitical theory and practice at the end of the century.” According to him, Ulrich Beck’s understanding of risk society is that it is “a developmental phase of modern society in which the social, political, economic and individual risks increasingly tend to escape the institutions for monitoring and protection in industrial society.” At the first stage of the development, “the effects and self-threats are systematically produced but do not become public issues or the centre of political conflicts.” The second stage is when “the institutions of industrial society become the producers and legitimators of threats they cannot control” (Beck, qtd. in Ó Tuathail, p.24). At this stage, while the institutions are trying to control the risk, their credibility becomes problematic. In this risk society, modernization is reflexive “because it is dealing with problems, risks, and dangers created by its own modernity.” From this perspective, however, contemporary US geopolitical discourse, staying at the second phase, “still articulates the mythic system of industrial modernity.”

The same can be said for Japan’s geopolitical discourse to some extent. As Hughes et al points out, the elites emphasize that the SDF is now a “multifunctional and flexible” force that can confront globalized threats. For Japan, however, the threats after 9.11 were both global and regional: Supporting the U.S.-led war on terror on the one hand, and facing growing hostilities from neighboring countries on the other. Hook et al. (2005) states that Japan, in its New National Defense Programme Outline in 2004, for the first time “explicitly” identified its threats. Then, the massive earthquake hit the country. To be sure, as a quake-prone country, disaster relief missions are defined as its side duty in the SDF Act. Nevertheless, the operation with one-hundred-thousand troops is the largest-ever mission for them. According to a survey carried out by the Cabinet Office (2012), 91.7% of people answered that they have a positive feeling toward the SDF. It was the highest since the survey started in 1969. At the Diet, Tanioka, a Diet member, acknowledged that the SDF “has been raised as the forces for peace, as the Constitution first had intended, who protect Japan and the lives for the Japanese” (Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense). Has this development mean that the ‘real’ danger finally legitimate the SDF?

In terms of my research question of who protects whom, the most bold development after 3.11 is Prime Minister Abe’s announcement for changing the name of the Self Defense Forces to the National Defense Forces, as the LDP had promised in their manifesto for the election in 2012. Although the difference sounds slight in English, in Japanese kanji, it becomes striking. While SDF is written as 自衛隊, which contains no reference to nation or state, NDF is written as 国防軍, clearly showing that what is protected is Japan as the state. Also, while SDF is not represented as Forces in 自衛隊, 国防軍 has the exact kanji that represents military, with a reactionary connotation that invokes history and war. Therefore, it can be said that 国防軍 is much bolder in its referent objects.

Meanwhile, the opponents’ contention to this change is obviously in line with the argument of peace-loving peoples identified in previous sections. To illustrate, Mainichi Shimbun (2013) worries the change “would induce distrust and backlash of international society, especially Asian neighbors which Japan invaded” (also see Asahi Shimbun 2012a, Hokkaido Shimbun 2013b). More interestingly, however, Abe as well states that “what Japan is saying [in terms of collective defense] does not gain currency in the world” (Asahi Shimbun 2013). The difference here is probably that while the former seemingly excludes the United States from the peace-loving international society, the latter see the United States as a main member of the same society. However, the same Asahi Shimbun (2012b) points out that “From the United States, we can hear voices worrying Japan’s right-turn.” Tokyo Shimbun (2012), mentioning the Armitage and Nye report, asserts that the Japanese government “can do only ad-hoc measures so it is under the thumb of the United States.” But the question here probably is: To which direction would “Americans” lead Japan? As Toyoshita criticizes, Abe is trying to change the “imposed” (by the United States) constitution so as to strengthen U.S. Japan relations (Toyoshita 2007). Hokkaido Shimbun (2013), relying on Yoshida Shigeru’s old argument, warns that “keeping high profile in diplomacy would end up to lose support in international society. Even if [such a posture] is supported by the Japanese, it is a dangerous road” (see also Iwate Nippo 2013). In the Diet debate, Konno, a legislator, proposes that part of the SDF should be converted into a group of experts of disaster relief activity. They, he insists, would rush over to the scene of natural disasters overseas. This indeed can serve as “brilliant international contributions” (Budget Committee). Here again, the Japanese themselves are absent while peace loving peoples are salient.

A year after the tragedy, in their report on the U.S.-Japan Alliance, Armitage and Nye (2012) write that the crises of 3.11 and Operation Tomodachi, the relief activities by U.S. Forces, “raised an interesting irony for deployment of U.S. and Japanese forces,” showing that “under the most severe conditions requiring the protection of Japan’s interests, our forces are legally prevented from collectively defending Japan.” Undeniably, one of the biggest political concerns after the event was if it would change the U.S.-Japan alliance that has not become a “collective” yet. To be sure, the presence of American forces, which deployed 20,000 troops at most, was massive. According to the survey mentioned above, 81.2% of people recognized that the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is beneficial for Japan, which increased 4.8% compared to a similar 2009 survey. Also, 79.2% think that the Tomodach Operation was effective (Cabinet Office 2012). Nevertheless, despite this apparent affirmation by the Japanese public, it might be difficult to identify any change. Samuels (2013), analyzing various Japanese domestic debates, visiting the devastated areas, and conducting various interviews, argues that “the anticipated ‘deepened alliance’ did not materialize, at least not in the form of structural change or agreement on the realignment forces.”

Whatever the slogans like “Gambare Nippon” say, the incompleteness of “Kizuna (bond)” was not just between the two countries. Instead, what many of the Japanese saw throughout the very localized threat has been the boundaries drawn everywhere inside Japan. Ironically indeed, they were “drawn” because of radioactivities vented from the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. Sasaki (2011), a popular young critic, said to his audience at a speech event held a month after the quake that “we are not them, the victims.” The difference is only relative, but “absolute.” Ikeda (2011) likewise argues that events such as quakes and tsunamis, no matter how tragic, can draw lines between the time when it happens and the time before and after it. However, “the radioactivity made setting any boundaries impossible.” Exactly for this reason, people frantically try to draw lines in the sphere of imagination. Many mothers in Tokyo escaped toward the west with their children hand in hand. Not a few local governments outside Tohoku refused to accept the wreckage of buildings from the devastated area, fearing radioactive contamination. Nevertheless, in the areas, especially in Fukushima, the lines were not at all imagination but an invisible reality, a frantic containment of radioactivity, by naming the area around the nuclear reactor the “evacuating zone.”

Here, what is striking is uncertainty of space. As Ikeda states, while time whenever allows us to draw lines, the invisibility of radioactive contamination refuses any boundary-making attempts. It is nothing but where you live that distinguished the victims from others. One of the most salient discourse after 3/11 was undeniably the brutality of the land of Japan, where repeated giant earthquakes have been historically killing countless people. It is this land of uncertainty where the Japanese live. Nevertheless, for Kato Norihiro (2011), one of the most influential contemporary critics, it is the whole islands of Japan that is separated from the rest of the World. He asserts, it was loneliness that the Japanese keenly felt throughout the experience of 3/11. The nation was a “transfer student” and has been a “dissident” in international society. Throughout the modernity, what Japan has been aiming is “catching up and overtaking others.” However, in order to overcome this ”national crisis,” he asserts, Japan should feel “a sense of unity” as a member of the society. This will be done only by abandoning nuclear power. Mentioning that the nuclear fuel cycle policy was “in reality a policy to secure the nuclear capability,” he urges his peers to become completely “unarmed,” by discarding this covert nuclear deterrence, that is, nuclear energy. Kato States, Japan can’t survive without “trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world” and “that’s fine.”

Ó Tuathail (1998) argues that it was the “national security” discourse which “rhetorically contained unprecedented techno-scientific risks” of self-reflexive threats of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The two atom bombs showed that a “technological pinnacle to techno-industrial society could destroy the home of techno industry society.” Despite this reality, “the mythic self-concept of ‘industrial society,’” has been surviving. However, with the demise of the Soviet Union, this regime of risk containment and management was in fact collapsed. Drawing again on Beck, he states, now, “No risk is self-evident in and of itself; it must be described, represented and constituted as part of a larger narrative.” Moreover, the narrative is composed by multiple voices of various actors. Even though a “parade of enemies” for Japan is a hybrid of global and local, the “crisis of security,” which is ambivalent and undecidable, is likewise obvious. Japanese risks as part of larger narrative, have always been up in the air in between the tensions of global and local. More precisely, in Japan, the crisis of security might have been continuing for almost seventy years, since the two atom bombs were dropped, without having any clear-cut threats. Indeed, might it be the case that Fukushima, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki equally showed across time the impossibility of drawing lines between enemies and friends?


“A strong Japan. The people who create it are not some other people. They are none other than we ourselves. "’National independence through personal independence’”(Abe 2013).

At the outset of his policy speech at the Diet in February, Premier Abe quoted Fukuzawa Yukichi’s well-known passage. Not to mention Maruyama’s (1946) postwar argument on Japanese subjectivity (shutaisei), how to construct “we” has been almost an inherent, never-resolved issue for Japan since the end of WWII: “If you don’t conform, you will be ostracized. Instead, as far as you conform, your life and security are ensured by the mura (community).” Ozawa Ichiro (1993), a formerly renowned politician, thus depicted Japanese society in his book in 1993. Calling this system “Japanese style democracy,” he urged his peers to be a “normal country with independent individuals.” Since then, apart from Ozawa’s intent, Japanese normalization has virtually meant rearmament, at least in the context of international politics (e.g. Kang 2003, Mathur 2007). However, in the discourse I analyzed in this paper, we saw a strong fear of the Japanese that rearmament would result in being ostracized from a global community of peace-loving peoples.

When Yoshida Shigeru began his negotiation with the United States after WWII, he took a position as the vanquished. This positioning occasionally allowed him and his successors to securitize the economy, which was admitted by the United States, who wanted to avoid Japan taken over by communists. Also, the phrase of the Constitution written by the United States was weaved into a story-line of peace-loving peoples, who have been Japan’s guardians. Interestingly, however, the United States, despite its authorship, has apparently been excluded from this “peoples,” while for example China, who had been excluded from the San Francisco System, is seemingly identified as one of such nations. Nevertheless, the argument of a cap in a bottle, the other side of the same story, has also been utilized by the United States and others.

Thus, while the positions and voices of the Japanese seemingly vary, what is noteworthy is the elasticity and malleability of the story-lines. The story lines, giving people a certain autonomy of choosing referent objects, at the same time prevent specific subjectivities from being crystallized, as they develop through peoples’ speeches and actions. The paradox which Japan’s case shows is that the more ostensible autonomies one has, the more crystallization (securitization) becomes difficult. Indeed, Japan was able to securitize the economy when it positioned itself as the vanquished at the expense of its independence. In other words, while the definition and construction of security is seemingly only in the hands of policy-maker, the success of securitization is another matter. It is not a simple acceptance by their audience but it has to become understandable in terms of story-lines. In addition, how the discursive coalitions evolved around it is not at all clear-cut. They, despite their different positions, rely on the same story-lines with different interpretations. Moreover, their interpretations are, as seen in Japanese understanding of security, significantly influenced by each of their temporality and spatiality. These story-lines might conflate into a larger narrative. Nevertheless, with numerous voices and authors, the ‘crisis of security’ will continue, without having a narrative even for the two, much less for all.


Primary sources

Abe, S., 2012. Policy Speech by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the 183rd Session of the Diet, Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet, [online] < > [Accessed 3 Oct. 2013].

Asahi Shimbun, 2012a. Editorial: What’s wrong with Self Defense Forces?, The Asahi Shimbun. 29 Nov. Morning edition. p.14.

Asahi Shimbun, 2012b. Editorial: We want sober politics. The Asahi Shimbun. 27 Dec. Morning edition. p.3.

Asahi Shimbun, 2013. Collective defense and war-renouncing article 9. The Asahi Shimbun,14 Feb. 2013. Morning edition. p.7.

Budget Committee, The House of Councilors, 2011. 13 May [online]

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