The Gulf Crisis and War: Japanese’s Threat Perception of Being Involved in a War

Conference: The Asian Conference on Asian Studies (ACAS2022)
Title: The Gulf Crisis and War: Japanese’s Threat Perception of Being Involved in a War
Stream: Comparative Studies of Asian and East Asian Studies
Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation (Live-Stream)
Yuansheng Li, Osaka University, Japan


This article explores how movements of Japanese anti-war groups resisted the UNPCC bill (the U.N. Peace Cooperation Corps Bill) to clarify how the groups used their influence to sway the government’s decision-making during the Gulf tensions. In the 1980s, the U.S.-Japan alliance was still keen to resist the USSR despite growing trade tensions. Washington and Tokyo were considering maintaining their alliance when the Cold War ended, but the Gulf tensions presented the first hurdle to this. This study used declassified documents and relevant resources to examine the role of Japanese anti-war groups amidst the Gulf tensions, which coincided with the ending of the U.S.-Japan trade friction and with the closing phase of the Cold War. Japan increased expenditures by raising taxes to support America instead of giving military assistance, which was Japan’s compromise to cater to both America’s behest and anti-war group’s wishes. This article gives a new lens to interpret the U.S.-Japan relationship during the Gulf war and sheds new light on the economic and political communication between Washington and Tokyo as well as on Japan’s social threat perception of the Post-Cold War era, by focusing on Japanese anti-war groups’ movements. I argue that those groups acted as supervisors that regulated the government’s actions and that they hoped that Washington could understand Tokyo’s pacifism and maintain a close relationship with Japan despite having different ideologies on the Gulf Tensions.

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