Japanese leaders struggled for decades to overcome legal, political, and normative constraints on the expansion of the Self-Defense Forces so that Japan could field a robust military. Their progress was steady and significant, but slow. Now, having reframed the nature of the threat Japan faces and having borrowed creatively from the U.S. model, they have found new traction by empowering the Japan Coast Guard (JCG). Today's JCG has what its publicists, citing capabilities explicitly banned by Japan's constitution, call “New Fighting Power!” Remarkably, however, JCG modernization and expansion are being achieved without much objection from Japan's neighbors or from the domestic public. Although the JCG is not a “second navy,” it is already a fourth branch of the Japanese military. Tokyo is now able to project additional diplomatic influence as well as “fighting power.” Japan's “new fighting power” is thus greater than the sum of its military parts.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.