Dr. Paul Midford
Professor of International Studies
Department of Transcultural and Global Studies
Meiji Gakuin University
This presentation asks why, in the wake of the Cold War, Japan suddenly reversed years of steadfast opposition to security cooperation with its neighbors. Long isolated and opposed to multilateral agreements, Japan proposed East Asia’s first multilateral security forum in the early 1990s, emerging as a regional leader. It explores what led to this surprising about-face and offers a corrective to the misperception that Japan’s security strategy is reactive to US pressure and unresponsive to its neighbors. Drawing on newly released official documents and extensive interviews this presentation provides and overview of a quarter century of Japanese leadership in promoting regional security cooperation. It demonstrates that Japan has a much more nuanced relationship with its neighbors and has played a more significant leadership role in shaping East Asian security than has previously been recognized.