In the first decade after the end of the Cold War, Japanese leaders pursued a sensible two-track foreign policy. While strengthening its alliance with the United States, Japan cultivated a deeper relationship with its neighbors. Japan played a key role in creating the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and proposed the regional security dialogue that eventually developed into the ASEAN Regional Forum. Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa’s refreshing candor about Japan’s aggressive war energized the process of historical reconciliation with the rest of Asia. In 1995, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama followed up with his historic, unequivocal apology for Japan’s militarist past that was endorsed by the cabinet and established the standard for subsequent statements of apology. Under Murayama’s leadership, Japan also inaugurated the Asian Women’s Fund, a groundbreaking public-private effort to provide redress for the suffering inflicted on women by Japan’s wartime system of sexual servitude.
Then, in 1997, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto launched his Eurasia diplomacy to improve relations with both Russia and China. The Japanese also responded quickly to address the East Asian financial crisis of that year and promoted subsequent multilateral efforts to enhance regional financial stability. The summit between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung in fall 1998 dramatically improved Japan-South Korea relations, and the Japan-China summit that soon followed endorsed 33 key areas for bilateral cooperation. Obuchi was also the first major leader to float the idea of six-party talks to deal with North Korea—a proposal the U.S. government embraced some three years later.
Since Obuchi’s sudden death in 2000, however, Japan’s Asian diplomacy has languished. At best, this drift imposes a huge opportunity cost for promoting a more stable order in East Asia; at worst, Japan could exacerbate destabilizing factors that already exist in the region. The security of a more robust alliance relationship with the United States has permitted Japan to continue this drift for some five years without a sober recognition of the long-term consequences. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, with his repeated visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine and his one-dimensional embrace of President George W. Bush, has been part of the problem.
On top of all this has been Japan’s burgeoning new nationalism. After suspicions that North Korean agents had abducted Japanese citizens during the late 1970s and early 1980s were confirmed, the Japanese media and public have understandably insisted that officials stand up more firmly on behalf of Japan’s national interests and the welfare of its citizens. Japan’s new nationalism also evinces a strong generational element. In addition to having no memory of wartime Japan or the early postwar years of devastation and reconstruction, Japanese youth today have no recollection of the student disturbances of the 1960s and 1970s that challenged the U.S.-Japan security relationship and conservative rule in Japan. Many are lured by Yoshinori Kobayashi’s nationalistic comic books, which trumpet the virtues of arrogance. So when Chinese boo and ridicule the Japanese team in a soccer match, the reaction of Japanese youth is visceral. The younger generation has supported Koizumi’s leadership not so much because they support his privatization agenda, but because they like his brash and bold style. They like the way he stands up to the old-style politics of collusion, and they admire his refusal to buckle under Chinese and Korean pressures not to visit Yasukuni.
As emotionally charged as the new Japanese nationalism is, it is important to recognize what this nationalism is not. It is not the nationalism of Meiji Japan, which was mobilized by the state to concentrate resources for national power. It is not an irredentist nationalism, either; there is no serious talk in Japan about using force or coercive diplomacy to take back the Takeshima/Tokdo Islands from South Korea or the “northern territories” from Russia. Nor does Japan’s new nationalism suggest traditional great power ambitions. Most nationalists simply want Japan to be a “normal country.”
Japan’s new nationalism is primarily reactive—against unwarranted foreign meddling, against leftist teachers who had dismissed national symbols like the flag and the anthem, against textbooks that had become increasingly explicit about Japan’s past aggression and wartime atrocities. But nationalist irritation and the embrace of national symbols do not add up to a clear nationalist foreign policy agenda. Japan’s new nationalism may complicate the execution of a coherent Asian policy, but it will not propel differently-minded ambitious regional agenda. So far, the nationalist impulse is more about drift than direction.
Japan’s nationalist drift, however, does have deeper roots. Three basic paradigms that have guided Japanese foreign policy for decades have lost their appeal and applicability. These paradigms, fixed in strong political, institutional and social foundations, fused together Japan’s national identity and strategy. With the loss of these paradigms, Japan now finds itself without a compass or anchor in Asia.
Flying Geese and Merchant Nation
The predominant self-image of postwar Japan has been that of the merchant or trading nation. By focusing on commercial activity and technological innovation, Japan could make up for its lack of raw materials and become prosperous and economically secure. As Japan became more confident of its economic capabilities, it began to see itself as the development leader for East Asia. Emblematic of this confidence were the frequent Japanese references to the “flying geese” model. The original model was formulated by Kaname Akamatsu during the 1930s to analyze the life-cycle of Japanese industries in the context of national economic development. In the postwar period, Japanese economists transformed the flying geese curves depicting the rise and decline of specific industrial sectors into a visual representation of a multi-tiered, stratified industrial competition and emulation process among national economies.
The Japanese found the flying geese model appealing because regional hierarchy and order were maintained while each country moved up the industrial and technological ladder. Of course, Japan was the lead Asian goose in this conception, followed by the new industrializing economies or the “small Asian tigers” (Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore), then by the so-called ASEAN four (Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia), and finally by the reforming communist economies of China and Vietnam. Although the flying geese model did not exactly match reality, it shaped how Japanese policymakers saw their country’s role in the region. The model was also compatible with the notions of “open regionalism” and “concerted unilateral action” that became the marquee slogans of the APEC forum. By promoting rhetorically the development of neighboring economies, Japan could be more leisurely about actually opening its own economy to other countries.
The flying geese concept, however, crashed with the bursting of Japan’s economic bubble and the subsequent decade of stagnation. Japan scaled back the instruments it had used to promote and shape regional development. After peaking in the mid-1990s, Japanese foreign direct investments, bank lending and official development assistance to East Asia declined. The 1997 East Asian financial crisis disrupted Japanese-led production networks in the region as China surged forward as an economic contender. The semblance of stratified hierarchy and order gave way to a far more complicated pattern of internationalized and ethnic-based production and trade competition. Japan remained the largest and most technologically advanced economy in East Asia, but businesses from other countries began to outperform their Japanese counterparts in several industrial sectors and product lines. As many East Asian countries graduated from Japan’s aid recipient category, the Japanese started to question the logic and wisdom of providing economic assistance to countries like China.
As Japan became less attractive as a model for other Asian countries, its own political economy began to change. As against the cozy government-business relationships that had propelled Japan’s economy in the past, brash risk-taking entrepreneurs and corporate raiders personified the new economy. Some struggling companies imported foreign executives, less hampered by Japanese norms, to enhance efficiency and innovation by severing dysfunctional long-term business relationships. Prime Minister Koizumi championed structural reform by cutting back public works, transforming the special public corporations and privatizing the postal savings system.
The combination of economic stagnation, structural reform and globalization has challenged Japanese society in myriad ways. The heralded system of lifetime employment now applies to ever fewer Japanese as companies rely more on temporary and part-time workers. Japan once boasted about the economic equality of its society, but now inequality has grown dramatically as market forces have butted up against old social contracts. Suicides have increased sharply due to economic stress and failure, or because people feel a loss of social purpose. Young people unable to jump-start their careers have become “free-ters”, floating from one job to another.
At the same time, despite formidable restrictions on immigration, foreigners are entering and settling in Japan in increasing numbers. According to some estimates, there are now over a million illegal workers in Japan, many of whom originally entered on student or training visas. Even with the domestic economic slowdown, Japan is an attractive destination for foreign workers because Japanese are reluctant to take on dirty, dangerous or difficult jobs, and because long-term demographic trends point to a chronic labor shortage.
How does all this affect Japan’s regional role? The economic and social changes wrought by globalization and structural reform may eventually yield a more pluralistic, open and tolerant Japanese society, but for now Japan’s shaken confidence and a rash of social incidents and crimes involving foreigners have instead provoked xenophobia. While Japan has joined the regional bandwagon to negotiate free trade agreements, the mobilization of domestic forces against the dislocative social effects of further reform and liberalization may impede Japan’s ability to follow through on free trade agreements with Asian countries, especially those with large agricultural sectors. Social uncertainties at home will not produce a muscular outward-oriented Japanese nationalism similar to the 1930s, but they may engender an inward-oriented nationalism that could paralyze any Japanese regional diplomacy aimed at stabilizing relations with neighboring countries.
The Peace State
The “peace state” (heiwa kokka) has been the self-image corollary to the “merchant nation.” Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, with its renunciation of war, has served as the fountainhead of postwar Japanese pacifism, but it has been a decidedly pragmatic pacifism. The Japanese government interpreted Article 9 to permit self-defense, but it was initially lambasted for this view. Hard-core pacifists advocated the dismantlement of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) because it contradicted Article 9’s second paragraph prohibiting the maintenance of “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential.” Conservative constitutional revisionists tended to share this legal reasoning, but advocated changing or eliminating Article 9 as the solution. As pacifists and revisionists engaged in a tug-of-war about whether to adhere to or change the constitution, the government’s pragmatic pacifism won the public’s embrace.
Japan’s pragmatic pacifism affected its international obligations as a matter of course. While recognizing that the United Nations Charter affirmed the right of collective and individual self-defense, the government proclaimed that Japan could exercise the right of individual but not collective self-defense. When opposition politicians challenged the security pact with the United States as a possible violation of this constitutional interpretation, officials emphasized the bilateral security treaty’s role in defending Japan (Article 5 of the treaty) and downplayed any Japanese role regarding the broader American purpose of maintaining peace and security in the Far East (Article 6 of the treaty).
All the while, too, the government was careful not to state that the constitution prohibited the acquisition of any particular weapon systems, including nuclear forces. But it adopted tight restrictions about when Japan could exercise its right of self-defense and how it could use force. Three conditions must be met: “(1) there is an imminent and illegitimate act of aggression against Japan, (2) there is no appropriate means to deal with this aggression other than the resort to the right of self-defense, and (3) the use of armed strength is confined to the minimum necessary level.” The application of this last condition in effect prohibited Japan’s acquisition of ICBMs, long-range bombers or offensive aircraft carriers.
The government reassured the public during the 1960s and 1970s that defense modernization did not mean remilitarization. It enunciated the three non-nuclear principles, declared a one percent of GNP ceiling on defense expenditures, and adopted a strictly defensive operational doctrine. These steps also served the purpose of reassuring Japan’s neighbors.
The Soviet military buildup in the Northwest Pacific and the deterioration of Soviet-American relations in the early 1980s precipitated a recalibration of Japan’s “peace state” paradigm. Japan moved gingerly toward threat-based defense planning by focusing on the defense of northern Japan against a possible Soviet attack. Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone proclaimed Japan to be an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” for the United States and suggested that the SDF could help protect the U.S. Seventh Fleet if it were operating to defend Japan. In short, Japan took a small step toward the concept of collective self-defense. But only the advent of post-Cold War security challenges decisively undermined the “peace state” paradigm.
Although Japan provided $13 billion to the U.S.-led multinational coalition against Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, it was severely criticized for not assisting in the military campaign itself. Particularly galling to the Japanese was Kuwait’s omission of Japan from the list of countries it thanked publicly for the international liberation effort. After this bitter experience, many Japanese opinion leaders argued against what they called “one-country pacifism.” A rapid succession of international developments then strengthened the hand of those who sought to chip away at postwar pacifism: the 1993-94 North Korea nuclear crisis, the 1995 Chinese nuclear tests, the 1996 Taiwan Strait missile crisis, the 1998 North Korean launch of a missile over Japan, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the rise of China as a potential security threat. The weakening of Japan’s Social Democratic Party, the traditional political caretakers of Japan’s pragmatic pacifism, also greatly eased the way for Japan’s security “normalization.”
In recent years, Japan’s security policy has moved along three dimensions. First, it has expanded its overseas participation in a variety of international security missions such as peacekeeping, disaster relief and humanitarian triage. Second, it has strengthened defense cooperation with the United States by facilitating rear-area support, promoting joint planning and operations, encouraging intelligence-sharing and being generally receptive to America’s military transformation and realignment of U.S. bases in Japan. Third, Japan has enhanced its ability to defend itself, including the passage of laws to deal more effectively with national emergencies, research and development for an advanced ballistic missile defense system, a more robust coast guard to deal with maritime intruders, and a new emphasis on defending Japan’s offshore islands to the southwest as a counter to China.
Even as Japan refueled U.S. warships in the Indian Ocean and deployed ground forces in Iraq, the Japanese government painstakingly tried to stay within operative constitutional constraints. The rear-area refueling mission did not involve defending naval ships of other countries as part of collective defense, nor did Japanese ships (including its formidable Aegis-class destroyers) become directly integrated with the use of force. The ground-force deployments in Iraq were framed as humanitarian assistance for reconstruction as mandated by the Security Council. Nonetheless, Japan has now stretched existing constitutional doctrine to its outer limits.
It is not surprising, therefore, that promoters of a more active Japanese security policy appear to have gained the upper hand in their advocacy for revising or reinterpreting the constitution. One reason for revision is to further strengthen the U.S.-Japan security relationship. Even if Japan lacks the capability to help defend the American homeland against attack, it must be able to help defend U.S. forces operating in defense of Japan. Absent this modest degree of mutuality, the alliance lacks credibility and weakens Japan’s ability to secure America’s involvement on behalf of Japan’s high-priority security interests. It makes Japan essentially an American protectorate and prevents Japan from having a strong voice in the alliance itself.
Proponents of collective self-defense also argue that Japan has an interest in developing security relationships with other countries in addition to the United States. For example, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba has recently advocated developing security ties with Russia, India and various Southeast Asia countries in order to constrain China. In his view, a Japan willing to exercise the right of collective self-defense would be a more attractive potential ally for these countries. Shinzo Abe, the leading candidate to succeed Prime Minister Koizumi, has made similar comments. But even though many Asia-Pacific countries may be amenable to a greater Japanese international security role, few would endorse an explicit collective effort led by Japan and the United States to constrain China.
A majority of Japanese may now favor revising the constitution, but the public is still deeply divided about collective self-defense. According to an April survey conducted by the liberal newspaper Asahi, 53 percent favored the current policy of not exercising the collective self-defense right. A poll conducted by the conservative Yomiuri newpaper in March found 43.5 percent supporting the current policy of prohibiting collective self-defense. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s October 2005 proposal for constitutional revision reflects this divided public. The LDP proposed the maintenance of a “self-defense military” (as opposed to the current “self-defense force”) with the prime minister as the commander-in-chief, but it finessed the issue of collective self-defense. Its draft referred obliquely to “self-defense military” activities performed through international cooperation “to ensure the peace and security of international society.” The LDP left it up to subsequent legislation to define how this cooperation would be implemented. Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, a longtime proponent of constitutional revision, has stated that if Japan were to embrace the right of collective self-defense, it should set “clear limits on [Japan’s] cooperation with other countries.” Although this view is widely shared among other revisionists, there has been little public discussion about what these limits ought to be. Should they be simply procedural, or should Japanese overseas military activities be restricted to the framework of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty or the United Nations? Without clarification of these points, the political consensus necessary to revise Article 9 will be impossible to achieve.
Even without revising the constitution, however, Japan could do much more on behalf of its own defense. By inflating the right of individual self-defense, Japan could redefine what is “minimally necessary” for self-defense. For instance, if neighboring countries become more threatening, Japan could deploy the SDF more assertively to defend its broader maritime economic interests and territorial claims. It could assemble retaliatory capabilities to beef up deterrence. The problem with such moves is that they will rub up against competing interests and conflicting claims by China and South Korea. Even a Japan still operating under the “peace constitution” could trigger a regional arms spiral and produce a less stable region. A military accident, like the EP-3 air-collision crisis between China and the United States in April 2001, could occur between Japan and one of its neighbors. Given the bubbling nationalist sentiment on all sides, such an incident could be truly incendiary.
The Postwar Settlement
The third lost paradigm concerns the postwar settlement itself. According to Article 11 of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, Japan accepted the judgments of the Tokyo military tribunal and other war crimes courts within and outside Japan. But soon after Japan regained its sovereignty, the National Diet passed legislation in 1953 that redefined executed war criminals as persons who died performing public duties. According to Japanese law, convicted war criminals could then be treated in the same way as regular war dead, and their families became eligible for veterans’ benefits and compensation.
By 1956, all surviving Class A war criminals had been released from prison; two years later the release of imprisoned Class B and C war criminals was completed. Class A war criminals were those in the leadership class accused of conspiring to wage wars of aggression, ordering or permitting the inhumane treatment of prisoners of war, and/or failing to prevent atrocities. Class B war criminals were those that perpetrated “conventional atrocities” or “crimes against humanity”, while Class C criminals were those in positions of responsibility regarding the perpetration of Class B war crimes. In pardoning all incarcerated war criminals, Japan followed the legal procedure that the Allied Powers had articulated in the peace treaty.
These steps set the stage for the martyrdom of war criminals. Using a list provided by the Health and Welfare Ministry, the Yasukuni Shrine in 1959 enshrined all deceased Class B and C war criminals. In 1966 this same ministry submitted the names of fourteen Class A war criminals who had either been executed or died in prison for enshrinement at Yasukuni. Twelve years later these 14 individuals were quietly enshrined, even though they had not died in battle like most of the war dead memorialized at the shrine.
This chain of events illustrates the ambiguity and internal contradictions of the postwar settlement from Japan’s perspective. To the outside world, Japan dutifully accepted the verdict of the Tokyo tribunal and followed the legal procedure for releasing imprisoned war criminals. But many Japanese rejected the substantive judgment of the war crimes trials. Some saw the acceptance of the trial verdicts as necessary to regain sovereignty after the war; others openly contested both the procedure and outcome of the trials and labelled Tokyo tribunal a case of ex post facto victors’ justice. These misgivings, however, did not lead the Japanese to examine for themselves the issue of war responsibility, including the role of the emperor, in a systematic and public manner.
While Japan as a nation skirted the question of war responsibility, an intense ideological debate ensued regarding the status of Yasukuni. Numerous postwar Japanese prime ministers and the emperor himself had been visiting Yasukuni—built in 1869 and clearly the preeminent military memorial in Japan—to pay their respects for the war dead during the shrine’s spring and autumn festivals. But this was not enough for the nationalist right wing and the Japan Association of War-Bereaved Families. From the mid-1960s through the early 1970s, they pressed to bring Yasukuni under state management. But vigorous opposition from leftist parties, the centrist Komei Party representing the religious organization Sokagakkai, and various Christian and Buddhist groups repeatedly blocked this effort. They argued that state management of Yasukuni would violate the constitutional doctrine separating state and religion and criticized the shrine for glorifying Japan’s militarist past. After learning that the Class A war criminals had been enshrined at Yasukuni, Emperor Hirohito ceased his pilgrimages.
What is remarkable about this period is how much the Yasukuni issue and Japan’s ambiguous stance regarding the postwar settlement escaped international scrutiny. That changed with Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone’s visit to Yasukuni in August 1985. By the time of this pilgrimage, news of the enshrinement of Class A war criminals had spread. But rather than going quietly as he had done on nine other occasions from April 1983 to April 1985, Nakasone went to the shrine with great fanfare. He called his visit an “official” one in his capacity as prime minister, he went on August 15 (the fortieth anniversary of Japan’s surrender), and he framed the visit in terms of a final accounting of the postwar period.
When student demonstrations protesting the shrine visit spread in China, Chinese Communist Party Chairman Hu Yaobang, a strong supporter of friendly China-Japan relations, called on Japan to evaluate history correctly and on the Chinese people to distinguish between Japanese war criminals responsible for the war and the Japanese people. So as not to undermine Hu’s political position in China, Nakasone tried to remove the names of the Class A war criminals from Yasukuni by getting the consent of the families of all fourteen. The family of wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo refused consent, and the shrine’s head priest opposed removing the spirits of the fourteen on religious grounds. After that, Nakasone refrained from further shrine visits in the interest of maintaining good relations with Japan’s Asian neighbors.
The 1985 controversy fundamentally altered the Yasukuni issue. Yasukuni was now irrevocably internationalized, and the shrine had become inextricably tied to Japan’s attitude toward the postwar settlement. Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto tried to break out of the Nakasone concession by visiting the shrine in July 1996, but after China and Korea protested, he, too, left off further visits.
But Koizumi has been persistent. In explaining his five visits to Yasukuni, Koizumi has tried to separate his personal wish to console the souls of the war dead from a particular view of history. He has emphasized that he does not go Yasukuni to honor Class A war criminals or to justify Japan’s past aggression. He has explicitly repudiated the revisionist history portrayed in the shrine’s museum—the Yushukan—that Japan was acting to liberate Asia and fighting for survival against threats from the United States and other Western powers. But precisely because of this museum and the historical background surrounding the enshrinement of war criminals, Koizumi’s explanation is hard for Chinese, Koreans and other victims of Japanese aggression to accept.
Japanese efforts to deal with the Yasukuni conundrum have shattered the ambiguous paradigm of the postwar settlement. Koizumi’s stubbornness has energized those in Japan who want to recast the “Greater East Asian War” to downplay or deny Japanese atrocities. The continuing calls by some to separate the Class A war criminals from the shrine have raised anew questions about the justice of the Tokyo trials. How valid is the label of Class A war criminal when someone like Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo, who opposed the war and worked hard to end it, was convicted as a Class A war criminal, while someone like Kanji Ishiwara, the military officer who engineered the incident that led to Japan’s conquest of Manchuria, was never brought to trial?
Memos of a former head of the Imperial Household Agency, which were released in July, have confirmed Emperor Hirohito’s strong displeasure about the enshrinement of Class-A war criminals at Yasukuni. This revelation has dramatically affected Japanese opinion. According to Asahi, public opposition to Koizumi’s successor going to Yasukuni rose sharply from 46 percent in January to 60 percent in July. Although this news has energized politicians who want the Class-A war criminals de-enshrined, the shrine is likely to resist such pressures. In the end, what may be required is a deep national soul-searching about war responsibility and wartime behavior—the kind of soul-searching that never happened after Japan’s ambiguous acceptance of the postwar settlement. Only after such a process will Japanese apologies appear more sincere and the mourning of the war dead—whatever the venue—be viewed more as an expression of grief than glorification.
Implications for the United States
The loss of its traditional paradigms of economics, security and historical understanding has left Japan’s public inward-looking and divided as its Asia policy founders. As Japan selects a new prime minister later this year, the United States has a huge stake in its most important Asian ally finding a way to chart a constructive course in Asia. America needs Japan to be influential and confident rather than isolated and anxious, especially insofar as U.S. preoccupations in the Middle East elevate Japan’s role as America’s diplomatic regent in the Asia Pacific region.
The Bush Administration embraced Prime Minister Koizumi because he gave diplomatic and logistical support for U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Iraq. But it is shortsighted for the United States to seek to harness Japanese nationalism on behalf of a more robust security posture. A stronger U.S.-Japan alliance has made it more likely that the two countries will work together to deter a military conflict between China and Taiwan and to encourage peaceful management of the Taiwan question. But if the prospect of military conflict across the Taiwan Strait recedes, the danger of a military incident between China and Japan could increase. Competing maritime economic interests and territorial claims could entangle the United States in a conflict in which it has no important or intrinsic national interest. The United States should therefore vigorously encourage confidence-building measures between these two major powers and cooperation regarding potential maritime energy resources in the East China Sea.
The United States also has an interest in getting the Japan-South Korea relationship back on track. If this bilateral relationship deteriorates further while U.S.-South Korea relations remain problematic, South Korea could continue to drift away from both the United States and Japan. That would have harmful strategic implications in the context of possible inter-Korean reconciliation and even reunification in the future.
The Bush Administration has rightly not taken sides in the disputes about history between Japan and other Asian countries. But U.S. policymakers should press their Japanese counterparts to think through the long-term strategic consequences of allowing Yasukuni Shrine visits and other history-related issues to poison Japan’s relations with its neighbors. The United States should also facilitate a constructive dialogue about history among Japan, China and South Korea. The United States would be an especially helpful participant in such a dialogue if Americans are also willing to examine their own imperial past in Asia and their own military conduct during World War II. The Japanese will have to decide for themselves how to deal with the Yasukuni Shrine issue, but American soul-searching about the past will encourage Japanese to do the same. And by doing so, the country may eventually find a way to mourn its war dead that better reflects the peaceful spirit of postwar Japan.
Finally, the United States should encourage Japan to be more active in regional institution-building and integration. With increasing economic interdependence among Asian countries, the days of the old “hub and spokes” bilateral approach to maximize American geopolitical leverage in the region are over. Just as the United States promoted the integration of Western Europe after World War II, it should support Japan’s integrationist agenda in East Asia. It is far better for the United States to have Japan play a key role in shaping the institutional contours of Asian regionalism than to have Japan react defensively to initiatives coming from China.