Japan’s Shifting Defense Policy and the United States


Professor Dustin Wright

California State University, Monterey Bay


Postwar Japan has famously maintained a pacifist constitution and defense-oriented military policy. The Japanese have depended heavily on the US commitment to defend them from external attacks provided by the US-Japan Security Treaty. In return, the US has been free to maintain a massive military presence in the country for the last eight decades, including dozens of military facilities and almost 50,000 troops. In the face of an increasingly complex and dangerous security environment posed by North Korea and China, Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has recently announced a dramatic reshaping of Japan’s defense policy. It includes a major increase in national defense spending and calls for Japan to have offensive capabilities. Though this is not the first time that the Japanese government has “reinterpreted” its pacifist constitution in order to address regional concerns, the new plan will make Japan the third largest military spender, behind the US and China.

Professor Dustin Wright will discuss Japan’s new policies and their significance for the US-Japan relationship, including that large US military presence in Japan. He will draw on his in-process book, Protest Nation: Anti-Military Base Struggle and the Fight for Peace in Modern Japan (Stanford University Press, forthcoming).

Dustin Wright is a historian and Associate Professor of Japanese Culture and Language in the School of World Languages and Cultures at CSU Monterey Bay. He is also an Associate Director of the Okinawa Memories Initiative, Director of the newly established Global Base Studies Project, and a research fellow at Rikkyo University’s Research Center for Cooperative Civil Studies in Tokyo. He previously taught at UC Santa Cruz (where he completed his doctorate), Connecticut College, Soka University of America, and the University of San Diego. His work has been published in The Japan Times, Critical Asian Studies, The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics, and Culture, and Gastronomica: The Journal for Food Studies.


  • Monday, January 16, 2023
  • 11:30 am: Registration
  • 12:00 pm: Luncheon
  • 12:50 pm: Program


  • Spinach Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Bistro-Style Steak with Parmesan Pesto and Scallion Quinoa
  • Seasonal Vegetables
  • Fresh Bread and Butter
  • Chocolate Mousse Cake with Seasonal Berries
  • Coffee, Decaf, and Tea
  • Vegetarian Option: Caprese Stuffed Portabella Mushroom on a Bed of Lemon Rice Pilaf


  • $36 for members
  • $41 for guests
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