About me

In 2010 I made the decision to follow a career path dedicated to peace building and conflict resolution, resulting in enlistment at the Royal Netherlands Navy in 2012. Currently, I am specializing into conflict resolution at Radboud University's Center for International Conflict -  Analyses and Managment. Since July 2015 I have been working part time at Radboud University as faculty advisor for the course United Nations and Multilateral Diplomacy and currently as a research assistant at the Center for International Conflict -  Analyses and Managment. In February 2016 I started my own consultancy and training bureau "Pantheon". Focussing on teaching skills needed to act within the international setting (Public Speaking, Negotiation, Etiquette, Protocol) as well as offering consultation on maritime and defense issues.

Civil-Military Relations in Japan

By G.L.J. Jacobs on 2016-06-23 in Papers,

Lutterbeck (2013) distinguishes civil-military relations as an area of study in two sub fields. Generally concerned it deals with the relationship between the military and the civilian authorities (and those employed by both authorities). In a broader sense, the field studies the relationship between military and society as a whole - and the place of the military within a society. Furthermore, a distinction can be made between the interaction between military forces and civilians abroad which is often referred to as 'Civil-Military Interaction', 'CIMIC', or 'CMCoord' (Rietjens & Bollen, 2008; Hoogensen Gjorv, 2014). This is not to say Japan does not engage in CIMIC/CMCoord activities; rather it might be these types of engagement under UN Mandate that explain recent developments (Arrington, 2002). Japan has a strained relationship between military and civilian, which can be traced back in the second world war in the twentieth century: Pre-war militaristic Japan vis-à-vis post-war renouncement of war under a tight civilian control. It is only recently that Japan has re-institutionalized the Ministry of Defence, and slowly the relationship between civil and military is redefined.

When looking at civil-military as a whole, and how it may influence foreign policy one may look at the writings of Huntington (1957) and Janowitz (1960). The development of a distinct form of 'military professionalism' would be the best way to ensure a strong civilian control of the military according to Huntington (Huntington, 1957). 'Military professionalism' implies a specific expertise in the legitimate use of force (Ius ad Vim). Furthermore, it serves as a primary responsibility within the state for military functions and makes use of its own internal hierarchy and rules of advancement in its own bureaucratic military organization. In contrast; Janowitz argues for a conscripted army, a general conscription would be a key instrument in convergence between the spheres of the military and the civilian. Janowitz highlights the fundamental differences between the two spheres with the former being based on hierarchy, order, and strict discipline. The latter is disorderly and values individual freedoms (Janowitz, 1960). By converging the two spheres and encouraging mutual exchange and regular interaction between the two domains, the military remains responsive to the demands of the civilian authorities and will, as a result, be 'civilianized'. Both theories may have been of use to understand civil-military relations in Japan in various points of history. However, contemporary neither seem applicable. At best we see elements of Huntington's arguments to separate the military functions, but rather than trusting them with 'military professionalism', Japan has placed the defence forces under guardianship of the bureaucratic apparatus (Huntington, 1957; Buck J. H., 1976; Pyle, 1992; Gow, 1993; Dunn, 2003).

From Pre-war militarism to Renouncing War

In contrast with the post-war era till the end of the twentieth-century Japanese militarism refers to the ideology of the Pre-war Empire of Japan that militarism should dominate the political and social life of the nation. Related to foreign policy, militarism sees that the strength of the military to be equal to the strength of a nation. The pre-war experience of an active, interventionist military strongly influenced post-war civil-military relations (Buck J. H., 1967; Gow, 1993) Samuel P. Huntington (1957), Samuel E. Finer (1962), and Michael Desch (2001) all examine pre-war Japan and offer their theories as to why the military became a dominant authority in the state with little or no check on its power and activities.

Over the course of the years following defeat in 1945, Japan's armed forces have been transformed from the militarist elite clique that lost the war and destroyed the country, into a more or less accepted instrument of Japanese foreign and domestic policy (Dunn, 2003). Japan began rearming in the 1950s and laid the foundation for effective civilian control of the SDF with the laws and interpretations of the constitution that enforced it. (Dunn, 2003) The so-called "Yoshida Doctrine," named for the prominent post-war Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru, who developed it, provided guidance for post-war economic, security, and military policy (Pyle, 1992, pp. 20-41). One important aspect of the Constitution was Article 9 which stated that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation" and that military forces "will never be maintained". When Yoshida Shigeru made his policies (the Yoshida Doctrine) Article 9 played a large role. (Holcombe, 2011, pp. 277-286)

First, excessive civilian control in Japan may negatively affect the ability of the SDF to accomplish its mission and of the civilian government to formulate effective defence policies (Sigur, 1975; Buck J. H., 1976; Gow, 1993). Second, there is a disagreement among the civilian leadership in Japan over what constitutes civilian control. The dividing line between the left and right seems to be the Diet (assembly) and the civilian bureaucracy, respectively, Left out by both sides are the positions of the prime minister as commander-in-chief of the SDF and the Director General of the Defence Agency as the primary advisor on defence issues (at least in theory) (Gow, 1993; Watanabe, 1996).

Resurgence of Japan's Military Apparatus

More recently changes are made in Japan's military apparatus and the way it is being controlled by civilians. Aminta Arrington argues that societal-military relations are improving because the values of society and the values of the SDF are converging as a result of the SDF taking on United Nation peacekeeping and humanitarian missions (2002). Until a decade ago the Defence Agency did not have ministerial status, in 2007 the National Diet passed into law the change of status of the Defence Agency to a Cabinet-level Defence Ministry. The influence of uniformed personnel compared to their civilian counterparts inside the defence ministry, and on the Minister himself, is going to increase. For obvious historical reasons related to the right of supreme command, granted to the Japanese military until the end of the Second World War, the fact that operational planning is placed under the responsibility of the Joint Staff has triggered much concern in Japan about the civilian control of military affairs (Fatton, 2015). These concerns may be valid, though there is much disagreement on what the developments mean for the region. In the last decade of the twentieth century some studies often look at domestic and international constraints on Japan that prevent or dissuade it from becoming a military power (Berger, 1993; Keddell, 1993; Katzenstein, 1996) while other authors have predicted or expressed fear of a return to militarism (Pyle, 1992, pp. 11-19). It remains to be seen how the developments in the region - in particular with the South China Sea Dispute - will further develop the new civil-military relationship in Japan.


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