Effective for what form of security? JSDF overseas dispatch for international peace cooperation
Introduction Although established and primarily tasked for six decades with traditional national security duties, the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ (JSDF ) overseas dispatches have become characteristically non-traditional, “post-modern” security initiatives: multinational, non-combat, human security-focused. The JSDF were selected as Japan’s representatives in UNPKOs not as the only legitimately capable agents, as in traditional security narratives, but for being the most capable agents across the breadth of operations (Huntington 1981). While security investment has remained committed to traditional, “modern-industrial” roles, Japanese overseas dispatch operations (ODOs) have illustrated JSDF potential as a nontraditional security actor. Although PKOs/ODOs are often regarded as inherently non-traditional security missions, they have also played traditional security roles in freezing disputes (Cyprus), regional stability (Lebanon/Golan), or decolonization (India-Pakistan), combining elements of traditional and new security. JSDF ODO are frequently labelled “PKO,” but the Japanese term kokusai heiwa kyōryoku, international peace cooperation (IPC) encompasses: (1) UNPKO; (2) humanitarian relief operations (HROs); (3) disaster relief operations (DROs); and (4) allied support operations (ASOs). Examination of the four IPC/ODO variants suggests diverse JSDF capabilities, illustrates the expansion of their nontraditional security roles, and the limiting factors that persist in the twenty-first century. JSDF performance in IPC has often been judged upon criteria unrelated to effectiveness or efficiency: “showing the flag,” avoiding casualties, and loyalty to the UN or United States regarded as indicating “success.” This study focuses on the IPC/ODO spectrum and evaluates JSDF capabilities and progression from 1991 to 2012, to assess their effectiveness as international security actors. Operational experience has demonstrated significant “hardware” and “software” problems, some beyond their control, such as the Japanese constitutional-legal environment, the range of required duties, and the degree to which “civilian control” in Japan has restricted JSDF professionalism. However, the defense forces also remain largely wedded to traditional security notions of an industrial military, and while Rupert Smith contends that most militaries remain sociostrategically “traditional” while becoming techno-tactically “radical,” this Cold
War legacy remains frustratingly difficult to understand, even with the partly traditional security challenges of China and North Korea (Smith 2006).