Why Give? : Japan’s Response to the Asian Tsunami Crisis

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-416
Journal / PublicationJapan Forum
Issue number3
Online published22 Dec 2006
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


This article analyses the various motives behind Japan's response to the December 2004 Asian earthquake and tsunami. There was no mono-causal explanation for Japan's tsunami aid policy. The various state, non-state and private actors involved in the policy-making and implementation process each had their own motives but were united by a genuine spirit of humanitarian goodwill. Nevertheless, the tragedy did provide the Japanese government with an opportunity to promote a security agenda by enhancing the legitimacy of the Self-Defence Forces (SDF) and strengthening military relations with the US. Tokyo also took advantage of the tsunami to pursue politico-diplomatic objectives. Prominent among these were two interrelated goals: the bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and a desire to diplomatically outshine China.

Research Area(s)

  • Aceh, Japanese aid policy, Sino-Japanese relations, Southeast Asia, tsunami, United Nations Security Council