Japan

Organized Panel Session

4 - Threat Perceptions and Alliance Risks Evidence from Japan’s Parliamentary Discourse

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Madison B, Mezzanine Level

An asymmetric alliance often shapes a protégé's security policies (e.g., Lake 1999, 2009; Morrow 1991, 1994). This paper aims to analyze a protégé's discourse on alliance policies in a changing international environment. Applying statistical learning methods to over 450,000 utterances from the foreign policy committee record in the Japanese Parliament in 1950-2016, the paper primarily looks into how parliament members' external threat perceptions influence their concerns on alliance risks (i.e., abandonment and entrapment fears; Snyder 1984, 1997). This document-based analysis reveals remarkable empirical patterns on the postwar parliamentary discussions in Japan. On one hand, abandonment fears rarely occur and turn out to be unresponsive to varying levels of perceived threats, Japan's ongoing conflict involvement, US presidents' public defense commitments, and US military presence. Entrapment fears, on the other hand, prevail the postwar defense policy discussions in concurrence with their threat perceptions. Such unbalanced discourse patterns in the parliament corroborate Japan's sustained antimilitarist norms (e.g., Berger 1993; Katzenstein 1996) while suggesting potential benefits from further systematic examinations of domestic influences on alliance policy.


 

Azusa Katagiri

New York University, New York

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