Independent Thinking: Japan’s new security era

Episode 24 of our weekly podcast examines Japan and the historic changes underway in its foreign and security policy.

Audio Published 4 May 2023 Updated 16 October 2023 29 minute listen

The recent trip by prime minister Fumio Kishida to Kyiv was the first time a Japanese leader has visited an active war zone since World War Two, and comes amid successive changes on how Japan approaches national security concerns.

The panel considers whether Tokyo is moving away from its pacifist constitution, and the role played by the rise of China and the invasion of Ukraine in this. Is this the end of former prime minister Abe Shinzo’s vision of Japan as a ‘normal country’?

Tokyo’s tumultuous relations with its neighbours are also examined, not just with China but also importantly South Korea. With Kishida expected to visit Seoul soon, the panel discusses why two democracies, both of them US allies, find themselves continually at odds.

Joining Bronwen Maddox is Robert Ward, Japan chair and senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Valerie Niquet, senior research fellow with the Foundation for Strategic Research, and Professor Alessio Patalano, an expert on East Asia and academic with King’s College London’s War Studies department.

About Independent Thinking

Independent Thinking is a weekly international affairs podcast hosted by our director Bronwen Maddox, in conversation with leading policymakers, journalists, and Chatham House experts providing insight on the latest international issues.

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