Japan's Security Decisions: Allison's Conceptual Models and Missile Defense Policy

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Virginia Tech

This research project assesses the continued utility of Allison's three policy-making models in analyzing contemporary foreign policy problems. It also explores the effect of cultural considerations on Allison's concepts by delving into the unique themes of Japanese politics. The climate in which this policy decision is made is framed through a discussion of the strategic environment and Japanese defense policy following the Cold War and 9/11. The rational actor, organizational process, and bureaucratic politics models are applied to Japan's 2003 decision to field a missile defense system through a qualitative analysis of English-language secondary hard-copy and online sources. Some Japanese government materials are reviewed as well; the Japanese language, however, presented challenges to research. Despite the expectation that the rational actor model best describes the Japanese approach to missile defense, this project shows the true value of Allison's theories lies in their capacity to expose issues relevant to policy problems from varying perspectives. Japan's missile defense policy likely resulted from a combination of the three models, each influenced in varying degrees by the cultural aspects of Japanese politics.

organizational process, rational actor, Graham T. Allison, missile defense, Japan, bureaucratic politics