Tuesday 14 Aug 2018 | 19:01 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 14 Aug 2018 | 19:01 | SYDNEY

A new Japan: Like France or like Sweden?


Sam Roggeveen


17 July 2008 14:54

A coda to my earlier response to Hugh White: it might clarify things a little to offer some analogies. If I've read Hugh's posts correctly, he would see a nuclear-armed Japan as somewhat equivalent to France. That is, certainly in the Western strategic orbit and with close military links to the US, but with an independent military and strategic policy guaranteed by an indigenous nuclear deterrent.

I closed my last post by asking why Japan could not be like lots of other countries with nuclear-armed neighbours that they may not see eye to eye with. These countries don't themselves see the need to develop a nuclear deterrent or even seek the protection of someone else's nuclear weapons. To pick a specific example, why can't the strategically independent Japan that arises in a new regional order be like a super-sized Sweden? 

No analogy is perfect, and I don't mean to suggest that Japan would adopt Sweden's strict neutrality. In fact, in the diplomatic sense, I reckon this new Japan would be closer to the France model described above, except without nuclear weapons. But Sweden has managed to deter its much larger and nuclear-armed neighbour (USSR/Russia) for decades by relying solely on its own conventional military capabilities. And I note these have largely been of a non-provocative variety. Sweden has very little power projection capability.