The Pretty Pragmatic Public: Japanese Public Opinion During the Afghanistan Evacuation
47 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2022
Date Written: August 8, 2022
Although the need for the U.S. to work with other democracies during a future crisis is ever increasing, we do not yet have a sufficient understanding of what citizens in U.S. allies think about security policies and possible military actions. We leveraged on an extremely rare opportunity in which the Japanese government decided to dispatch its de facto military, the Self-Defense Forces (SDFs), overseas for a high-risk operation, the evacuation from Afghanistan in August 2021. Specifically, we conducted “real-time” survey experiments in this context to test some hypotheses relevant to the theoretical literature on international relations: reliability of alliances, civilian control, and sensitivity to casualty. Our analysis suggests that Japanese citizens are “pretty pragmatic” in their opinions on foreign policy issues. We discuss nuanced differences in their attitudes compared to Americans’ attitudes, which existing studies suggest as “pretty prudent” (Jentleson, 1992; Jentleson and Britton, 1998).
Keywords: alliance, civilian control, casualty sensitivity, Japan, Afghanistan
JEL Classification: D74, F51, F52, H56
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation