The Schizophrenic Superpower

Japan would prefer to be an ecnomic giant and a political pygmy. Neither circumstances nor its neighbors will allow it that luxury.

Issue: Spring 2005

When Robert Kagan famously wrote that, in their approach to power and security, Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus, what might he have said about Japan? In most respects, post-modern Japan has been more like Europe than America in preferring diplomacy to force, persuasion to coercion and multilateralism to unilateralism. Indeed, it might be said that Japan is even further towards the Venusian end of the celestial spectrum in its aversion to the instruments ofmilitary power. No other country in the world explicitly renounces war as a sovereign right; or eschews the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes; or proscribes land, sea and air forces as well as other war potential.

You must be a subscriber of The National Interest to access this article. If you are already a subscriber, please activate your online access. Not a subscriber? Become a subscriber today!