Former Prime Minister of Japan Nakasone Yasuhiro advocated autonomous defense throughout the post-WWII period. Nakasone’s concept of autonomous defense (jishu boei) went beyond the idea of enhancing national defense capabilities—it was accompanied by a rich and varied internationalism that strove toward assuaging neighboring countries’ concerns toward Japan’s remilitarization. Nakasone also actively engaged major western powers in the global debate over nuclear issues during his term as prime minister, and it went beyond the confines of Japan’s bilateral security relationship with the United States. Thus, Nakasone’s autonomous defense concept reflected both the development of postwar Japan and the many turbulent changes in the postwar global security landscape. This essay follows the evolution of Nakasone’s autonomous defense concept during his political career from 1950 to the end of his premiership in 1988 and concludes with an overall assessment of his initiatives regarding Japanese security.
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