S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Dept. of International Studies (국제학과) Theses (Master's Degree_국제학과)
Securitizing China's Military Rise: A study of security and defense policy reform under the Abe Shinzo administrations
중국의 군사력 강화에 대한 안전 보장화: 아베 신조 정권의 안보정책개혁에 관한 연구
- Park, Cheol Hee
- 국제대학원 국제학과
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 국제대학원
- 학위논문 (석사)-- 서울대학교 국제대학원 국제학과, 2017. 8. Park, Cheol Hee.
- This study seeks to explain why major reforms in Japanese security and defense policy transpired in the first three years of the second Abe administration (2012-15), but not during his first stint as Prime Minister in 2006-07, despite retaining an almost identical political agenda.
As opposed to previous scholarship that marks domestic adjustments in leadership style and strategy as the predominant factors, this study argues that the genesis of change under Abe 2.0 began externally. It finds that threat perceptions of China’s military rise gradually intensified in the period between the first and second administrations, and ultimately led to the emergence of a “China threat” consensus from 2013. This consensus was the result of two major processes: (1) the securitization of China’s military rise by the Japanese defense bureaucracy, and (2) increasing newspaper media coverage of topics related to Chinese military activities that fueled notions of a rogue China. Concurrently, public attitudes toward both China and Japan’s security posture underwent a gradual normative shift. This consensus essentially created a need for response as it established China’s military rise as the most relevant and immediate threat to Japanese security.
A high level of political consolidation upon Abe’s return in 2012, characterized by the resurgence of the Liberal Democratic Party and conservative forces, as well as the marginalization of the opposition then enabled the second Abe government to make effective use of the consensus. As a result, the government introduced three major policy responses that are subject to analysis in the study: The State Secrecy Law, the establishment of the National Security Council, and the reinterpretation of Article 9 including the 2015 collective self-defense legislation.
The study thus concludes that the first Abe administration lacked not only a “China threat” consensus, but also the successful consolidation of political power and public support at the time. As a consequence, security and defense policy reform in Japan is most likely to occur when high external threat perceptions meet with a strong government that favors a greater Japanese security stance.