Ballistic Missile Defense in Japan: Process-Tracing a Historical Trajectory
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Why did Japan deploy ballistic missile defense when and how it did? The prevailing view characterizes Japan’s BMD decision as a response to North Korea’s 1998 Taepodong missile launch. But “Ballistic Missile Defense in Japan: Process-Tracing a Historical Trajectory” contests this simple assumption of causation. The thesis first pieces together a more comprehensive historical narrative from contemporary sources and interviews with formal officials. Analysis of this newly revised timeline then demonstrates that focusing events like the Taepodong incident were but one of several factors driving BMD; others included alliance pressures, bureaucratic leadership, and defense industry profitability. These findings are more important now than ever as the United States pivots towards Asia and transitions to relying on Japan as an equal military partner. Understanding the history of missile defense in Japan leads to the heart of how and why the United States’ close ally makes its national security decisions, and thus allows both parties to forge a better alliance.
DepartmentPublic Policy Studies
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