Japan and two theories of military doctrine formation: civilian policymakers, policy preference, and the 1976 National Defense Program Outline

Kawasaki, Tsuyoshi
February 2001
International Relations of the Asia-Pacific;Feb2001, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p67
Academic Journal
Using hitherto underutilized Japanese material, this paper systematically analyzes two competing theories of military doctrine formation that account for the construction of the 1976 National Defense Program Outline (NDPO), postwar Japan’s first military doctrine. It demonstrates that, on balance, available evidence on the policy preference of two key civilian policymakers, Michio Sakata and Takuya Kubo, is more consistent with the interpretation drawn from Posen’s balance‐of‐power theory than with that from Kier’s domestic culturalist theory. While by no means ignored by these policymakers, domestic political concerns neither dominantly shaped, nor gave a specific direction to their policy action. Rather, the policymakers were motivated to formulate the best response possible to Japan’s new international strategic conditions. This finding relates the hitherto neglected significance of the NDPO case to the larger, ongoing realist–constructivist debate on the formation of military doctrine. It also leads us to a more sophisticated understanding of NDPO formation, which focuses on the process of how a combination of political leadership and ideas triggered the breakthrough in Japanese security policymaking.


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