Since 11 September 2001, Japan’s security policy has undergone remarkable change (Kersten 2011b), involving the breaking of precedents, the consolidation of a normative commitment to proactive pacifism, and a questioning of Japans’ postwar security policy framework. These transformations have themselves occurred in a dynamic and unstable context. In its domestic politics, since the departure of Koizumi Junichiro-in 2006, Japan experienced a succession of short-term conservative prime ministers, followed by a historic election in 2009 that saw the defeat of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) at the hands of the relatively progressive hybrid political force, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The regional and global context has added to the drama and urgency of Japan’s security shift, with the rise of China and the continued menace of North Korea forcing Japan to critically re-examine its regional and global foreign and security policies. Already mired in long-term economic stagnation, burdened by national debt, and experiencing the beginnings of a demographic time bomb, Japan has been further destabilized by the triple emergency of 11 March 2011. While a focus on domestic problems can be expected in the short term in the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami, and radiation leaks from Fukushima, the underlying concern with Japan’s existential dilemma in the realm of foreign and security policies will persist, and can be expected to intensify. Driven by insecurity and accompanied by instability, the debates over

Japan’s foreign and security policy stance since the Koizumi administrations have exhibited two basic preoccupations: how Japan can improve and upgrade its engagement with the economically dynamic Asian region, and how Japan should reposition its military alliance with the United States in the post-11 September security environment of transnational threats, in a region that has not entirely emerged into a post-Cold War threat environment. Indeed, it is the interplay between these two issues that requires exploration. Debates over Japan’s multilateral engagement with the Asian region, and its bilateral commitment to the alliance with the US, have displayed an underlying assumption that there is a degree of dissonance between these two policy directions. It is the impulse to resolve this

perceived discomfort that will shape Japan’s future multilateral and bilateral policy choices. This chapter addresses how Japan’s changing global and regional strate-

gies and outlook in the post-Koizumi era are envisioning and repositioning the Japan-US alliance. In particular, it investigates the extent to which Japan’s shifting perspectives on multilateralism and security can be accommodated within the Japan-US alliance.