Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kempton, Daniel R.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Japan--Military policy--History--20th century


After its devastating defeat in World War II, Japan rebuilt its economy in a remarkably short period of time and transformed itself into the second largest economy and the leading creditor nation in the world. In contrast, postwar Japan has refrained from becoming a major military power, although it adopted a policy to expand its military power and operations significantly. Japan's limited military expansion has challenged neorealism, arguably the most influential theory of international relations since the 1980s. Neorealists have long argued that Japan would develop a military power commensurate with its economic power and that it might even go so far as to develop nuclear weapons. The apparent weakness of neorealism in application to Japan has triggered serious attempts by scholars to solve the conundrum of its limited militarization. Constructivists and neo-institutionalists contend that systemic theories of state behavior are of little use in explaining Japan's "peculiar" behavior and that the behavior actually derives from peculiar subsystemic factors. However, they have failed to provide a cogent explanation for Japan's military expansion and activism in the post-Cold War era. At present, there is no theory that can cogently explain both Japan's overall limited military buildup and its significant military expansion in the post-Cold War era. In order to resolve the two conundrums, my work presents a new systemic theory of state behavior, "econocentric realism," which expects rational, self-interested states to employ both military and economic means in pursuit of the maximization of their wealth, which is their primary objective. My work tests econocentric realism against Japan's policy responses to the five most significant international security developments in the post-Cold War era for Japan: (1) the Gulf War, (2) the United Nations peacekeeping operation (UN PKO) in Cambodia, (3) the rise of the North Korean military threat, (4) the war in Afghanistan following the September 11th terrorist attacks on the U.S., and (5) the U.S.-led war against Iraq. Econocentric realism largely passed the tests and succeeded in resolving the two conundrums, thereby showing its strong potential as a general theory of state behaviors.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [397]-414).


vii, 414 pages




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