How Pacifist are They Really? Experimental Studies of the Japanese Public's Attitude Toward Use of Force Concerning the Sino-Japanese Territorial Dispute
26 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
IR theorists, constructivists in particular, believe that antimilitarism has been an important element of Japan’s strategic culture after World War II, and that Japanese citizens are highly reluctant to use forces. There have been signs, however, that their allergy to use of force has been eroding for the last decade or so. Some scholars argue that Japan is “rearming,” but others scholars argue that Japan has not changed as it appears. This debate has been ongoing, but very few analysts have provided empirical data to substantiate their respective claims.
In order to overcome this problem, we conducted online discreet choice experiments using stated preference method. In so doing, we attempt to answer the question, “How reluctant or willing are Japanese people today to use force?” In this experiment, we provided respondents with a hypothetical scenario that China sent its military fleets to take over the disputed islands and asked them what type of policy packages they like best. We conducted this experiment twice, January 2012 and November 2012. By doing so, we were able to confirm our findings were generally robust, while we could also assess how the eruption of the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute in September 2012 affected Japanese people’s attitude toward use of force.
While this research is focused on Japanese public opinion about use of force, there are three reasons why it is significant for security studies more broadly. First, this is one of the few experimental studies utilizing stated preference method in the IR field, which is yet fully utilized in the field of IR theory. This paper shows that this method has great potentials to contribute to our understandings about security issues. Second, the findings provide very strong empirical basis to evaluate the debate on Japan’s “antimilitarism,” which is one of the important debate topics between realists and constructivists.
Keywords: Japan, security policy, realism, constructivism, antimilitarism, experiment, choice experiment
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