Japan's Military Dilemma

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Japan is at a crossroads. The nation that scrapped its army, navy and air force after the Second World War is now considering sending troops and equipment to Iraq. Since 1947, Japan’s euphemistically-name Self Defense Force has carefully restricted its missions to peacekeeping in places like Cambodia and East Timor.

But at the same time, the Japanese treasury has been a kind of cash register to armies in need, doling out billions to assist in other nations’ conflicts, while keeping its own troops at home. Some Japanese now say that their country should no longer make such pay outs, that principles worth defending ought to be defended with blood, and not a checkbook. Others fear a return of military nationalism. Japan’s struggle with its new international identity.


Akira Iriye, Professor of Japanese History, Harvard University

Richard Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT;