Koizumi Diplomacy

Japan's Kantei Approach to Foreign and Defense Affairs

Tomohito Shinoda

  • Published: August 2017
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / Japan; Politics
  • Bibliographic information: 216 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Japan's policymaking strategy in foreign and defense affairs changed dramatically in 2001 after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi took the helm of the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Following a series of bland and short-lived prime ministers, Koizumi's infusion of fresh energy into a tired and opaque party has been compared with Tony Blair's successful revamping of New Labour in the U.K. Koizumi, however, had a weak power base in the party and limited diplomatic experience. How, then, was he able to exercise leadership?

Tomohito Shinoda analyzes the prime minister's role in policymaking, focusing on the assistance he receives from the Kantei, or Cabinet Secretariat, the Japanese equivalent of the American president's White House cabinet. Since 2001, the Japanese government's center of gravity for foreign policy has shifted from the traditionally dominant Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Kantei, which allowed Koizumi to exercise a top-down style of decision-making.

Through case studies and personal interviews with former prime ministers and cabinet secretaries, Shinoda looks at how Koizumi's new system operates on a practical level - how, for example, major post-2001 anti-terrorism legislation has been initiated and prepared by the Kantei-and compares its successes and failures with those of the U.S. system. With frank and engaging commentary by former officials, this book makes a unique contribution to the understanding of contemporary Japanese political affairs.
Tomohito Shinoda is professor of international relations at the International University of Japan.
A Note on Conventions
Abbreviations and Japanese Terms


1. The Roots of the Kantei Diplomacy
2. A Traumatic Experience: From the Gulf Crisis to the International Peace Cooperation Legislation
3. The Rise of Kantei
4. Koizumi's Response to Terrorism: The 2001 Anti-Terrorism Legislation
5. Preparing for a National Contingency: The 2003 Emergency Legislation
6. Dispatching the SDF to Reconstruct Iraq: The 2003 Iraq Special Measures Legislation
7. Evaluating Kantei Diplomacy


"A valuable contribution to the growing literature on Japanese defense and foreign policy making. It is sure to be read with interest by professional analysts as well as general readers interested in East Asian affairs."
-Pacific Affairs

"The book provides useful information about how Japan and Japanese politics have changed since the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990. It contains insights into how Koizumi led the Kantei within the new political and administrative environments created by the Hashimoto administration's administrative reform bills . . . . Koizumi's legacy is yet to be determined. However, the pros and cons of Kantei diplomacy are well enumerated, assessed, and explained by the author."

"Koizumi Diplomacy presents a new direction for the discussion of Japan's foreign policy-making. The book's detailed chronological descriptions of inter-and intra-party politics during the Koizumi years make it a valuable resource for the analysis of Japanese politics."
-Journal of Japanese Studies

"Shinoda's short and concise analysis covers a new and under-researched aspect of Japan's evolving foreign and security policy."
-The International History Review