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Temporal othering, de-securitisation and apologies: understanding Japanese security policy change

  • Karl GustafssonEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

For several decades, Japan kept in place significant self-imposed constraints on its security policy even as its economy grew tremendously. While it has been argued that Japan refrained from enacting security policy change because of strong domestic pacifist or anti-militarist sentiments, recently, radical policy changes have nonetheless taken place. How can these changes be understood? The existing explanations typically see them as a response to objectively existing or constructed external threats. Such threat constructions might have contributed to the policy changes, but do not fully account for how the conditions that previously limited similar changes have altered. This article combines temporal othering and de-securitisation theory to account more fully for the policy changes. It shows that during the post-war period, Japan’s temporal other, that is its wartime self, was securitised within Japan, limiting changes in security policy. More recently, however, a de-securitisation of the Japanese temporal other has taken place, which has enabled more far-reaching policy change. Apologies have played a key role in this de-securitisation process by repeating and strengthening an identity narrative about how fundamentally different Japan has become from its past wartime self.

Keywords

Apology De-securitisation Japan Re-articulation Security Temporal othering 

Notes

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swedish Institute of International AffairsStockholmSweden

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