Multilateralism and Japan's Security Policy

Sheldon W. Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


For Japan, security still depends primarily on the US-Japan Defense Treaty, but in the post-Cold War era, Japanese leaders realize that reliance exclusively on the United States is insufficient. One line of pursuit of multilateral security has been to enhance Japan's role in UN peacekeeping. Noncombat elements of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) are now serving in several countries along stabilized peace-keeping frontiers. These deployments are part of a larger strategy to obtain a new permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC) so that its political role in world affairs becomes more commensurate with its economic clout. The other major approach focuses on the Asia-Pacific rim where Japan is a founding member of the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), and is regularly involved with ASEAN post-ministerial and senior officials' meetings. All of these activities, though of limited utility in resolving ongoing international conflicts, have raised Japan's diplomatic profile in regional affairs and gradually led to growing acceptance of a Japanese security role in East Asia independent of, though congruent with, the United States. Of the current regional security dialogues, Northeast Asia is least articulated. KEDO could form the basis for a broader regional mechanism. However, the two countries that are potential flashpoints for Northeast Asia are not involved. North Korea is a KEDO recipient but not part of the decision making group. And, Taiwan has no representation in any official regional security forum. Informally, Japan, the ROK, and the United States are now meeting regularly to coordinate policy with respect to North Korea's nuclear power plants and its ballistic missile capabilities. Whether these efforts evolve into a broader-gauged regional security mechanism remains to be seen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalKorean Journal of Defense Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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