Since becoming Japanese prime minister for a second time in 2012, Shinzō Abe has sought to remake Japan’s national security posture so that the country can play a more active role in international affairs. Abe’s reforms clearly constitute a transformational project, aimed at remoulding the fundamentals of Japanese strategic thinking. However, do Abe’s efforts constitute a coherent set of foreign and security policy principles or an “Abe Doctrine”? As Japan’s “chief diplomat,” Abe remains an ambiguous figure. Is he a nationalist ideologue bent on remilitarising Japan, a revisionist seeking to push Japan towards a radically new grand strategy, or a pragmatic realist seeking to gradually build up Japan’s strategic capabilities?
David Envall is a research fellow in the Department of International Relations at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU. In addition to having worked as a copy editor and corporate editor/writer, David has formerly held appointments teaching Japanese foreign relations at Tokyo International University and politics at La Trobe University. His research covers Japanese politics and foreign policy, US-Japan relations, and international security in the Asia-Pacific. His book, Japanese Diplomacy: The Role of Leadership (SUNY Press, 2015), examines the role played by Japanese prime ministers in the conduct of the country’s foreign and security policy-making.