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Beyond "Activism-Lite"?: Issues in Japanese Participation in Peace Operations

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This article discusses legal, political, and institutional issues arising out of Japan's past involvement in international peace and stability missions. Seeking to identify potential strengths and limitations, it focuses on the experience and features of the international missions of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Although the JSDF has proved successful in conducting its assignments on a tactical level, some of the limitations inherent in the JSDF modus operandi—to a large extent imposed by domestic legal system—are nonetheless serious in light of changing operational environments. These limitations are due to lack of consensus in the Japanese political debate on what constitutes the strategic priorities of Japanese security, as well as the indeterminate public attitudes towards these issues. It should be noted, however, that the resulting "activism lite" approach is increasingly untenable if Japan is to remain a credible ally and partner in the international community.


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