Oxford Debate: 'Japan Wants to Restore the Power Balance'
Motion: Japan's military build-up threatening regional stability
ZURICH, MAY 9, 2023 – Japan is experiencing its own version of the "Zeitenwende": For the first time since World War II, the country is planning to acquire counterstrike capabilities. The three new strategic documents – the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and the Defense Buildup Program – published at the end of 2022 outline a significant increase in defense spending until 2027, the aim of building stronger alliances with new and existing partners, as well as a focus on cybersecurity. This turn has been long in the making, given the changing security environment around Japan with the threat it perceives from both China’s own arming up and the growing tensions between the U.S. and China.
In this Oxford Debate we are debating whether Japan’s military build-up is threatening regional stability with John Delury, Lionel Fatton, Yuka Koshino, and Ken Moriyasu.
About Oxford Debates
The Oxford Debates at Asia Society Switzerland are a format to address ‘big’ questions that have no one answer or solution but are inviting many conflicting views. Four renowned experts in the field form teams of two, one team arguing for the motion, the other against it.
The Oxford-style format is broken down into four sections: opening remarks, rebuttals, a moderated question-and-answer session, and closing remarks. Before and after the debate the audience is polled whether they agree with the motion or not. The voting breakdown is not shared publicly until the end of the debate. The greater percentage change between the first and second votes determines the debate’s winning team.
Disclaimer: Positions presented in the debate do not necessarily represent the speakers’ views
Japan’s military build-up is threatening regional stability
Arguing in favor of the motion:
John Delury is Professor of Chinese Studies at Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS), where he serves as chair of the Program in International Cooperation, chair of the undergraduate Program in International Studies at Yonsei’s Underwood International College (UIC), and founding director of the Yonsei Center on Oceania Studies. He is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, National Committee on US-China Relations, and National Committee on North Korea; he is also Pacific Century Institute board member, Asia Society senior fellow, National Committee on American Foreign Policy leadership council member, and Center on Strategic and International Studies adjunct fellow. He is a member of the Republic of Ireland’s foreign affairs advisory network and is invited to offer his analysis on East Asian affairs with government, think tank, corporate, and civil society organizations globally. He contributes to various journals and newspapers and is the author, with Orville Schell, of Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century, and most recently of Agents of Subversion.The Fate of John T. Downey and the CIA's Covert War in China.
Lionel Fatton is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Webster University Geneva and Research Collaborator at the Research Institute for the History of Global Arms Transfer, Meiji University, Tokyo. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Sciences Po Paris and two MAs in International Relations from Waseda University and the Geneva Graduate Institute. His research interest lies in international and security dynamics in East and Southeast Asia, China-Japan-US relations, Japan’s and China’s foreign/security policy, neoclassical realism and civil-military relations. Among his recent publications are Japan’s Rush to the Pacific War: The Institutional Roots of Overbalancing (2023) and Japan’s Awakening: Moving Toward an Autonomous Security Policy (2019).
Arguing against the motion:
Yuka Koshino is a Research Fellow for Security and Technology Policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) where she carries out independent research on the impact of emerging technologies on security from defense and geo-economic perspectives. Her research contributes both to the Defense and Military Analysis Program and the Japan Chair Program, where she serves as the co-host of the IISS Japan Memo podcast series. She was previously affiliated with the Asia-Pacific Initiative in Tokyo as the inaugural Matsumoto-Samata Fellow (2020–21). Prior to joining the IISS, Yuka served as a research associate with the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, worked as an analyst at Avascent Group and the Asia Group in Washington D.C., and as a journalist at the Tokyo bureaus of the Wall Street Journal, The Economist and The Japan Times.
Ken Moriyasu is the diplomatic correspondent for Nikkei Asia based in Tokyo. He writes about geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. He has been a correspondent for Nikkei in Washington D.C., Cairo, Beijing, Dalian and New York. Ken was the last journalist in the world to interview Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, one day before he collapsed. He graduated from Sophia University in Tokyo, where he studied journalism and was a running back for the university’s American football team.