Japan is one of the most secure and stable countries in the world. Politically, it has had stable governments since the inauguration of the 1947 constitution. Diet debates are mostly courteous and restrained, public demonstrations are rare and always conducted in a very disciplined and civilized manner. The civil service is widely considered one of the best educated and most effective, providing public services to all corners of the society. The police force is disciplined and well organized, and public safety even in the major cities is among the highest in the world. The benefits of economic growth in the postwar era were spread almost universally, income inequality was kept low, social mobility high, unemployment and other social problems – so widespread in many Western capitalist societies – remained limited, keeping personal and societal insecurity at a very low level. While the end of the bubble economy in the early 1990s led to massive economic disruptions and some initial changes to the political system, it did not seriously undermine public safety, unemployment rates, social welfare policies, or lead to political turmoil. Why then a book about governing insecurity in Japan? Today, one might be inclined to think that the massive earthquake and tsunami that destroyed large areas in the Tohuku region of Japan on March 11, 2011 led to much greater insecurity, as probably best exemplified by the disaster in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, which has become a symbol of insecurity and the inability of the Japanese government to secure its own people and the world from massive amounts of radiation. However, this book is not about the aftermath of 3/11 and Fukushima, but about a number of fundamental insecurity issues, that have gradually undermined the sense of security for many Japanese over the last decade. While 3/11 is in most likelihood a unique event that has and will influence public security perception for a long time to come, the insecurity issues analyzed in this volume have led to a security discourse that has been ongoing for at least the last ten years and has required initiatives by the Japanese government. It has also led to an increased perception of insecurity or increased threat perception. The end of the boom period and the collapse of the “bubble economy” around 1990, accompanied by rising post-Cold War security issues challenged the perception of “comprehensive” domestic and regional stability. Since that time,
Japan’s security environment has changed quite significantly. While the United States is still Japan’s core provider for international security, the nature of the partnership has changed as a result of new demands from the United States, but also due to renewed threats such as the North Korean nuclear program and the rise of China. The Japanese government is also confronted with new “nontraditional” security threats such as international terrorism, the spread of infectious diseases, global environmental threats and a more volatile economic environment. At the domestic level, administrative and socio-economic reforms, demographic change and the consequences of economic globalization for Japanese competitiveness and the domestic labor market, as well as growing government debt have raised questions about the sustainability of the current Japanese lifestyle and led to a heightened sense of insecurity among many Japanese. After a long postwar period of relative prosperity and social and economic stability, Japanese society and politics has had to deal with shifts in the global and regional environment that affected not just the system, but increasingly, also people’s lives. This increased threat perception has led to demands towards the government to deal with this new and constantly changing situation. “Governing insecurity” goes beyond the traditional concept of security, which is often limited to national security and a government’s efforts to organize security against various degrees of material threats. Instead insecurity is used here in a much broader context and specifically includes the perception of security and insecurity. The main issues discussed in this volume deal with Japan’s growing perception of regional and global insecurity and the changing role of military force; the perceived risk of Chinese foreign investment; societal, cultural and labor insecurity and how it is affected by demographic changes and migration; as well as food insecurity and its challenges on health and public policy. As an island nation, Japan had for many centuries a natural protection against overseas threats. Moreover, until the nineteenth century it also succeeded in moderating any outside challenge by controlled opening to and selective adoption of foreign ideas and techniques. The arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853 marked the first real foreign threat after 250 years of isolation. Japan feared becoming a colony and began to do everything in its power to prevent that from happening. The early years of the Meiji period are characterized not only by the fear of losing its independence, but also the foundation of its political and cultural identity. Japan’s rapid modernization was a reaction to its high level of threat perception and sense of insecurity. The Japanese have long developed a feeling that the outside world as well as the natural environment can cause insecurity. Rapid industrialization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century increased Japan’s trade with overseas markets, but also its dependence on energy resources. Negative consequences became amply apparent when in 1940, the US oil embargo severely undermined Japan’s war efforts. Frequent and often destructive earthquakes and tsunamis, occasional eruptions of volcanoes, fires that can easily destroy whole neighborhoods built with flammable material, seasonal typhoons that often destroy
residences and other structures created the perception that the natural environment is potentially dangerous, and also an often unreliable source for food or shelter. In recent years, there has been increased interest in the way Japan is dealing with these traditional as well as non-traditional security challenges. Changes in traditional security threat perceptions and their effects on the domestic discourse between major political actors with a focus on the changes in the 1990s and during the Koizumi era have been analyzed by Pyle (2007), Samuels (2007), Takao (2009) or Oros (2008). The debate in the Japanese public, mass media, and leading intellectuals has been analyzed by Midford (2007, 2011), Eldridge and Midford (2008), Atanassova-Cornelis (2007) and Vosse (2006). We can observe gradual changes in Japanese willingness to use its military, as demonstrated by Japan’s participation in a series of UN peacekeeping missions since 1992 (Dobson 2003), or by giving rear-area support for NATO and allied missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, such as the Indian Ocean refueling mission or the reconstruction mission in Samawah (Southern Iraq). Some have, therefore, began to question whether Japan is militarizing (Hughes 2009; Takao 2009; Sato and Hirata 2008; Kliman 2006), or whether Japan is simply adapting its international role from a “peace state” to an “international state” (Singh 2008; Berger et al. 2007; Takao 2009). As a country in East Asia with strong security ties with the United States, Japan’s activity in the Asian region was limited to issues of economic cooperation, development assistance and trade. Building trust and confidence has long stood at the center of Japanese diplomacy. Shifts in US attention, growing concerns about abandonment, and most of all, a rising China has forced Japan to become a more active player in the region, in an attempt to protect Japan’s exceptional political and economic position (Tow 2007; Nesadurai 2006; Sato and Limaye 2006; Suh and Katzenstein 2004) by either forming coalitions with other East Asian countries (Sato 2008; Tow et al. 2007, 2008) or by establishing more cooperative security relations with them (Drifte 2003) However, there is another aspect to security, and that is how the less predictable global and regional environment – globalization with all its dimensions –, has affected the way the Japanese perceive insecurity and how they expect their government to deal with these new or newly perceived threats. Some edited volumes such as Hook and Hasegawa (2006) deal with the effects of the “dialectics of globalization” such as neoliberalism and statism, American unilateralism, the rise of China and regional instability on politics and state corporate behavior. The Japanese institutional response to the new global and regional challenges and demands has been covered by Hook and Dobson (2007), Itoh (2008) and Segers (2008). While government and corporate responses to perceived and actual threats to Japanese political and economic well-being have attracted much attention in recent years, others have focused on the effects of a globalizing world on Japanese society and its people. For example, Leheny (2006) discovered the innovative ways with which the Japanese government was able to reframe international
laws and norms concerning human trafficking and child prostitution by focusing on the increase of paid dating by Japanese high school girls. The slow but persistent increase of foreigners and immigrants into Japan, a country with a comparatively small immigrant population and still limited experience with their integration triggered the question as to what influence this may have on social cohesion, threat perception, cultural values, national identity, or labor relations (Douglass and Roberts 2000), and how the Japanese society and its government might react to this development. Problems caused by migration and the possibility of forming a multicultural society have been widely debated in Japan (Graburn et al. 2007; Goodman 2003; Hook 2005). This book attempts to analyze the combined influence of traditional and new security threats on the domestic discourse in Japan. The core questions of all chapters relate to how the Japanese public perceives these insecurities, how these perceptions influence the public discourse, who the main stakeholders of this discourse are, their positions, and how this affects state-society relations in Japan and the policy decisions of the Japanese government. While the authors of this volume do not necessarily use one clearly defined theoretical framework, the questions raised and conceptionalizations used are very close to those introduced by the “securitization theory” of representatives of the Copenhagen School such as Ole Waever (1995), Barry Buzan (Buzan et al. 1998) and Jaap de Wilde. The core question of the theory of securitization is the question when, and how, issues become securitized. The securitization of an issue such as migration or global warming needs securitizing actors and a referent object that is threatening enough so that a societal or government response is required. To securitize an issue, or to make it a security object, it first needs to be politicized, hence it needs to be introduced into the political debate and made part of the public policy requiring a government response, before it may or may not be framed as a security issue or an existential threat that requires means and funds to deal with it. As an example, we can take a look at the issue of migration in this book. Migration can either be seen as a political issue that needs to be regulated like many other issues that require common standards and rules, or it can be securitized. Securitizing immigration could mean that immigration is framed as an existential threat to national identity or public safety, and therefore needs to be watched and limited, or immigration could be seen as a contributing factor to economic security, because foreign labor could be one means to deal with demographic change. Securitizing an issue limits policy options because, as an actual or potential threat to national security, it does not allow for significant compromises. The chapters in this book are divided into two groups. The first part begins with the individual and societal aspects of insecurity, while the second group of chapters focuses more on the international and economic aspects of insecurity and the governmental response. Part I combines five chapters that ask how the perception of threats are discussed within Japanese society and how these perceptions influence the general thinking about Japan’s values and its international role, which then result in
specific demands for government policies, such as the use of the self-defense forces (SDF ). The first two chapters by Wilhelm Vosse and Paul Midford revisit the debate about the strength of anti-militarist values and norms in Japan after the end of the Cold War. A few years after the end of the Cold War, Katzenstein (1996), Hook (1996) and Berger (1998) raised the question whether the norm of antimilitarism that had dominated Japan’s domestic debate discourse about foreign and defense policy throughout the postwar decades would weaken after the end of the Cold War. Based on his cross-national opinion surveys and other polls, Vosse finds exceptionally high levels of threat perceptions among Japanese concerning global, domestic and personal issues. Japanese are more concerned about global warming and global economic crises, more concerned about unemployment, immigration and crime rate, and more concerned about their own safety than US citizens. However, only the addition of strong patriotic feelings led to increased support for combat missions. The findings suggest that overall, non-militarist values are still very strong. Paul Midford uses the aftermath of the North Korean missile tests during the Abe premiership in July 2007 as a case illustration. He considers that the North Korean missile test at the time of the conservative and rather hawkish Abe administration was a so-called perfect storm to test whether this was a watershed event that could be used by Shinzo Abe and his administration as a threat narrative to justify a more proactive response and eventually lead to a weakening of non-militarist norms and preferences in Japan. By using opinion polls and by analyzing the public debate in the month after the tests, Midford concludes that while the Japanese public and both major parties supported defensive defense measures to protect the Japanese mainland, they rejected Abe’s attempt to frame the nuclear test issue to increase support for a more substantial shift in Japanese security policy posture. Both chapters argue that, while the Japanese public are, indeed, highly concerned about a large number of domestic and regional threats, and while they support the recent increase of Japan’s international engagement in peacekeeping missions or the reconstruction mission in Iraq, non-militarist values and fear of engagement in military operations are still putting very strong constraints on any possible militarization of Japan. The next three chapters by Vogt, Kibe and Takeda highlight how globalization affects Japanese on a personal and societal level, namely in relation to migration, national identity and food. Gabriele Vogt’s chapter on Japan’s migration discourse picks up a question that was also raised by Vosse, namely how even moderately growing levels of immigration to Japan are perceived and discussed in Japan. Vosse had found that negative views on migration, namely the view that an increased number of foreigners might undermine Japan’s domestic security and lead to more crime and violence, can potentially undermine non-militaristic values and norms in Japan. Vogt takes a closer look at how the migration debate is framed by the Japanese
government, by either demanding more government control and exclusion, or presented as a social and economic opportunity that requires integration policies. This chapter provides a discourse analysis focusing on how various political actors in Japan currently frame migration as an issue of national, economic or human security. Vogt finds that at this point, the immigration debate in Japan is still dominated by those who consider migration an issue of public safety, such as the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), seeing the need to securitize migration. However, Japan is currently in the middle of a shift in the migration debate. Economic and industrial interests increasingly stress the importance of more migration as a matter of economic security, and other social groups, think tanks and intellectuals stress the importance of migration as a matter of human security and the development of Japan as a multicultural society. Takashi Kibe analyzes the debate about tabunkakyōsei, or the coexistence of multiple cultures, a concept that has dominated the Japanese integration discourse for the last decade. Tabunkakyōsei is not just a theoretical concept used by philosophers and political theorists, but has gradually become part of public philosophy and given munition to those political actors, whether governmental or lobbyists for certain industries, who see the need for Japan to integrate more immigrants into the Japanese society. However, Kibe is quite critical about the effectiveness of tabunkakyōsei on its own, because its cultural orientation heavily relies on local activism, since citizenship laws still regard immigrants only as local and not as national citizens, and because the concept does not reflect public insecurity concerns prevailing in Japan. Kibe suggests to broaden the debate and to combine issues of cultural politics and those of political economy, to have a more objective debate about risks with the purpose of increasing public confidence and the need to pay more attention to political processes in Japan. The impact of economic globalization on state-society relations is also the theme of the next chapter by Hiroko Takeda. In a highly industrialized country, citizens need to trust the government to control the safety of the products they buy, and this is particularly true for food. This chapter examines how the risk perception of food has been used to govern the Japanese people and society and traces how risk has been articulated by the government and how society has responded. Neoliberal economic policies and market deregulation has led to less government control, which increasingly emphasizes the (self ) responsibility of enterprises and consumers. Takeda argues that this development has increased insecurity about the safety of food. This has become even more apparent after increasing fears of radiation in food after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. While the Japanese government has been mostly insisting that all the food is safe and is sufficiently controlled by governmental and industry bodies, citizens have begun to buy their own testing equipment to conduct independent testing. Part II of this book takes a closer look at three policy areas, all of which have been affected by globalization, namely labor migration, entrepreneurship, and foreign investment, and how Japan has begun its involvement in multinational
missions to deal with global and regional insecurities. All these chapters analyze how these issues are politicized and securitized by state and society actors. These political and economic aspects are investigated by David Chiavacci, asking what role immigration and foreign workers play in securing Japan’s future given Japan’s shrinking population and demographic transformation. Chiavacci emphasizes the need for a more balanced debate about immigration, not one of either or. The chapter argues, that while still at a low level, Japan is already an immigration country that is actively recruiting foreign workers because the Japanese economy is structurally dependent on them. However, what Japan needs is a national integration policy for foreign workers and their families as part of a fully developed immigration policy that takes account of possible social problems and cultural frictions. Another development that has increased a sense of insecurity among some in Japan has been the recent growth of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and investments by Chinese companies in Japan, which is analyzed by Reinhard Drifte. While still a small fraction of overall foreign investment, Chinese investment in Japan has already attracted some attention and a feeling of uneasiness. On the one hand, some Japanese observers and economic circles welcome these Chinese activities since a considerable number of ailing companies and many rural tourist destinations are increasingly reliant on Chinese investment, on the other hand, some Japanese look at these developments against the background of growing conflict and competition with China. Finally, Garren Mulloy asks to what degree the 1992 decision to participate in multinational mission and especially UN peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs) was a reaction to domestic demands to raise the Japanese international profile, how they have influenced the characteristics of the SDF, and how effective the SDF has become as a peacekeeping actor. Mulloy analyzes in detail the Japanese participation in UNPKO missions to Cambodia from 1992, Mozambique from 1993, the Golan Heights from 1995, East Timor from 2002, as well as humanitarian relief missions, disaster relief missions, allied support missions and the latest anti-terrorism support missions, and assesses the effectiveness of these Japanese contributions for the missions as a whole. While the first SDF missions might have suffered from insufficient equipment, training and experience in multinational missions on the part of the SDF, in the end, participation in these missions has improved the Japanese ability to cooperate with foreign forces outside of the US-Japan security treaty framework, and also contributed to a sense of pride among SDF members and the Japanese public about many of their achievements. Thanks to these missions, the Japanese public is now more willing to accept the fact that Japan can and will participate in specific missions on its own terms. This is one aspect of governing insecurity, in this case insecurity in other countries and regions, that Japan is now more willing to confront. Addressing insecurity is a major task of every government. The case of Japan is particularly interesting because perceptions of insecurity and the security discourse are still very recent phenomena. For an outside observer it is not always easy to understand why some issues are considered a threat and others are not.