Rethinking Japanese Public Opinion and Security: From Pacifism to Realism?


Paul Midford

Studies in Asian Security


Stanford: Stanford University Press

Available From: Stanford University Press
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8047-217-4
Binding: paper
Pages: 272


Rethinking Japanese Public Opinion and Security: From Pacifism to Realism? is the fourteenth book in the Studies in Asian Security series sponsored by the East-West Center and published by Stanford University Press.

In this book, Paul Midford engages claims that since 9/11 Japanese public opinion has turned sharply away from pacifism and toward supporting normalization of Japan's military power, in which Japanese troops would fight alongside their American counterparts in various conflicts worldwide.

Midford argues that Japanese public opinion has never embraced pacifism. It has, instead, contained significant elements of realism, in that it has acknowledged the utility of military power for defending national territory and independence, but has seen offensive military power as ineffective for promoting other goals--such as suppressing terrorist networks and WMD proliferation, or promoting democracy overseas.

Over several decades, these realist attitudes have become more evident as the Japanese state has gradually convinced its public that Tokyo and its military can be trusted with territorial defense, and even with noncombat humanitarian and reconstruction missions overseas. On this basis, says Midford, we should re-conceptualize Japanese public opinion as attitudinal defensive realism.

Paul Midford is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Sociology and Director of the Japan Program at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology in Trondheim. His books include Japanese Public Opinion and the War on Terrorism: Implications for Japan's Security Strategy.


Details and ordering information at
Stanford University Press

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
A Note on Japanese Transliteration and Names
  1. Introduction
  2. Public Attitudes, Opinion, and the Conditions for Policy Influence
  3. Views on the Utility of Military Force and America's Use of Force
  4. Reassessing Public Opinion During the Cold War
  5. The First Gulf War
  6. International Peacekeeping and the U.S. Alliance in the 1900s
  7. Japanese Public Opinion and Responses to 9-11 and the Afghan Invasion
  8. The Iraq War and the SDF
  9. Reversing Course: An Iraq Syndrome in Japan
  10. Conclusions


"Paul Midford has written a ground breaking study that provides vital perspective on a much neglected dimension of Japanese foreign and security policy making. At a time when confusion abounds over the long-term orientation of Japanese policy, Midford's study provides valuable insight on the underlying structures that set the parameters for decision makers in Tokyo. It deserves to be read by anyone interested in Japan, the international relations of East Asia, and US policy in the region."

--Thomas U. Berger, Department of International Relations, Boston University