Tom Le is as an Assistant Professor of Politics at Pomona College, specializing in Japanese security policy, war memory and reconciliation, and militarism norms. Le's work has been published by the Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs and the Journal of Asian Studies, as well as in popular outlets such as Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post, The Hill, and The Diplomat. Le received a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine and BAs in History and Political Science at the University of California, Davis.
This talk will be on my forthcoming book (Columbia University Press, 2021), Japan’s Aging Peace: Competing Militarisms in Modern Japan. The book challenges the conventional “normal” nation narrative in International Relations and explains why Japan has not aggressively militarized in an increasingly challenging regional and global context. Analyzing demographics, Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) resources, East Asia political relations, and Japanese peace discourses, I demonstrate how Japanese militarism has changed over the last century. Changing perceptions of security across generations has culminated in an “antimilitarism ecosystem” that constrains and restrains the Government of Japan’s efforts to strengthen the JSDF in the present day. This multidisciplinary work introduces foundational constructivist theory to contemporary security debates and draws upon interviews with policymakers, military personnel, atomic bomb survivors, museum coordinators, among other stakeholders, to answer how the use of force is legitimized in international relations. I highlights oft-overlooked causes of instability, such as aging and declining populations and gender inequality, to demonstrates how a nation devastated by war reemerged as a global contributor to human security in an insecure world.
This lecture is part of the Pomona College Fall Faculty Lecture series.