Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Japan’s “Coalition of the Willing” on Security Policies

Japan’s “Coalition of the Willing” on Security Policies

In 1991, Japan was vilified by many for its ‘‘failure’’ to contribute boots on the ground to the U.S.-led Gulf War. Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu (1989– 91) found it difficult to gain support for any cooperation with the U.S.-led coalition in that conflict. Today, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are stationed in a compound in Samuur, Iraq, part of President Bush’s ‘‘coalition of the willing,’’ and four of its destroyers are positioned in the Indian Ocean to aid the counterterrorism effort in Afghanistan. While many of the United States’ nato allies have been reluctant to aid current American security efforts, especially in Iraq, Japan has been among the staunchest supporters of American military ventures in the Middle East and of its stance toward North Korean nuclear development. As a result, Washington has moved from ‘‘bashing Japan’’ in the 1980s over trade policy and ‘‘passing Japan’’—ignoring it in favor of the rest of Asia—to lauding it for surpassing most of American’s other defense partners. Some even see Japan as having now been permanently ‘‘locked in’’ to American global strategy.

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