01 February 2007

Book Review: Japan’s Sea Lane Security, 1940-2004: A Matter of Life and Death?

Andrew S. Erickson, review of Euan Graham, Japan’s Sea Lane Security, 1940-2004: A Matter of Life and Death? (New York: Routledge, 2006), Naval War College Review 60. 1 (Winter 2007): 153-54.

This is an exciting issue at a dynamic time: in October 2004, Japan’s Maritime Self- Defense Force (MSDF) and coast guard led Northeast Asia’s first Proliferation Security Initiative exercise. In the Indian Ocean, the MSDF is currently fueling allied vessels to support operations in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Japan is struggling to assert control over its exclusive economic zones, the boundaries of which are increasingly contested by China and South Korea.

As the first English-language analysis of its kind, Graham’s comprehensive case study fills a critical gap in the literature concerning the maritime dimension of Japanese national security. Graham (currently a British government researcher at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s North Asia and Pacific Research Group) draws on fresh, original sources, including Japanese language documents and interviews with Japanese officials, to demonstrate that while Japan’s defense and foreign policy have changed dramatically since its opening up to the world in 1853, sea-lane security has been an enduring national security concern. Graham offers insight into Japanese leaders’ and analysts’ perceptions of their nation’s own security context, thereby avoiding the tendency of much related scholarship to view matters exclusively through the prism of relations with the United States. …