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Japan's Navy: Politics and Paradox, 1971-2000 Hardcover – November 1, 1999
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Woolley's book examines Japan's defense policies from the early 1970's through the present and puts Japan's defense policies in some reasonable perspective: that Japan contributed greatly to Western defense, to the Cold War, and to peace in the Pacific while laboring under extremely delicate political conditions at home. These constraints--legal, popular, and even international--forced defense to be a low-profile issue with low-profile policies. But that low-profile did not make Japan's defense any less important.
Japan's best defense investments went into the lowest profile of service: the navy. The warships went off to the vast expanse of the Pacific blue for ops and, what's more, could practice their trade in the shadow of the US Navy.
Today, the Soviet Navy has rusted and China's navy is at least 20 years behind in technology. But Japan's navy is still the highly useful, dependable and low-profile partner of the United States. (Ask anyone who is worried about the mysterious North Korean government or the unending spat between the PRC and Taiwan.)
And now, with the Cold War over and Japan's economy apparently much less threatening to the rest of the world (except if it goes in the tank), Japan has been able to raise its defense profile, beginning to contribute now to UN operations. While these contributions have not attracted much attention--or much praise, Japan has nonetheless been able to send troops abroad, using the navy, army, and airforce.
Of course, still no one refers to these organizations as army, airforce or navy. They are "self defense forces." So be it.
For the average reader, the first chapter, a "primer" on Japanese politics will be most useful. Japan is too often compared to the United States rather than to the whole range of modern democracies.
For the more attentive reader, chapters on sealane defense and UN operations will be informative and sometimes amusing. Woolley has a way of subtly mocking pop-critisism of Japan.
For the nitty-gritty naval buff, however, there might be little here. Woolley is much more focused on the political than on the nuts an bolts of naval ops.
It is certainly recommended for any library on Japan, recent international relations, or US military relations.