Japan's Misfiring Security Hedge: Discovering the Limits of Middle-Power Internationalism and 'Strategic Convergence'

Bilateral Perspectives on Regional Security: Australia, Japan and the ASia-Pacific Region

Author/s (editor/s):

H. D. P. Envall, Fujiwara Kiichi

Publication year:

2012

Publication type:

Book chapter

Find this publication at:
Palgrave Macmillan

H.D.P. Envall and Fujiwara Kiichi, ‘Japan’s Misfiring Security Hedge: Discovering the Limits of Middle-Power Internationalism and “Strategic Convergence” ’, in William T. Tow and Rikki Kersten, eds, Bilateral Perspectives on Regional Security: Australia, Japan and the Asia-Pacific Region, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, pp.60-76.

During 2010, Yukio Hatoyama’s government’s attempt at a strategic reorientation based on middle-power internationalism largely fell apart. Its failure raised a number of questions about Japanese strategic thinking and policy implementation. Why did Hatoyama’s strategy misfire? And what does experience suggest about the future viability of middle-power internationalism and strategic convergence? The argument presented here is that international conditions in Northeast Asia over 2009 and 2010 exposed the limitations of middle-power internationalism and strategic convergence, at least in terms of the version practised by Hatoyama. The Democratic Party of Japan’s strategy, which combined indirect balancing against the United States and engagement with China, proved too reliant on optimistic perceptions of the international environment and was therefore unable to fulfil the basic role of hedging, that is, to provide an offset against unexpected negative events.

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