This paper argued despite diverse recognitions in the idea of Japan as a “normal country”, two main discourses can be generalized: One stated Japan should shoulder more responsibility in international order and security without amending her constitution, while another claimed swift the notion of the constitution in order to transform Japan to a more complete sovereignty and powerful state.
Since the debates about amendment of the constitution are still unsolved, this paper focused on the Japan policies and behaviors in shouldering international responsibility. This paper argued in spite of domestic and international restraints, Japan achieve fragmentary success in terms of increasing commitment in international security, strengthening alliance with the United States (US), and reinforcing her national defense to a certain extent. This paper finally argued these achievements will continue with the desires from international community, but the amendment of constitution and the expansion of traditional force will be restricted by both domestic and international pressure.
Japan as a “normal country”
According to Yang (2012), the idea of Japan’s becoming a “normal country” has its origin from Ichiro Ozawa, who argued there is an initiative for political reform in order to maintain international order and peace with the end of Cold War. Japan, as stated by him, should have her own responsibility and role, as a “normal country”, respected and understood by international community. As for shouldering the international responsibility, especially in security issues, Japan should breakthrough the limitation set by the Constitution of Japan (also known as the postwar Constitution or the Peace Constitution), strengthen the Japan-United States alliance and participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Moreover, Japan should build up a prosperous life for her citizens, and endeavor to duel with new security challenges like global environment problems, cooperating with the rest of the world.
It is not hard to realize the abnormality of Japan, while this in fact results in hot debates about the concept of a “normal country”, as well as the future of Japan. Regarding the abnormality, as stated by Soeya, Tadokoro, and Welch (2011), Japan does not have the right to wage war or maintain armed forces according to her constitution. Secondly, Japan’s contribution is so far below its weight in the provision of regional and global security. In this case, there are two main discourses in evaluating Japan as a “normal country”. Yang (2012) explained one of them advocates the continuity of the spirit of the Peace Constitution. This is reflected by the Article 9 which claimed Japan formally renounces the sovereign right of belligerency and aims at an international peace based on justice and order, while armed forces with war potential will not be maintained. Therefore, being a “normal country” does not differs from being a peaceful countries, which pay efforts...