This thesis has explored the events between North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests in July 2006 up until the delisting of North Korea as a terrorist-sponsoring state by the US in November, 2008. The aim being to answer the question of whether North Korea is pivotal to Japanese security policy, translated press cuttings from Japanese media have been examined according to social scientific method as espoused by Yin and others in order to determine the chronological order of events. Having thus established the facts, the theories of Buzan and Wæver, Kenneth Waltz and Stephen Walt respectively have been applied to the proposition.
The answer is affirmative – Japan has been greatly affected by the North Korean acquiring of nuclear weapons with long-range strike capability even if the exactitude of aim and technological reliability of these weapons is disputed. The debate on the pacifist clause in the constitution has been revived with those in favour of remilitarization gaining momentum.
Further, the US decision to delist North Korea resulted in a breach of trust within the US - Japan alliance upon which Japan relies for its defence, constituting yet another shift in the security situation for Japan with repercussions for East Asia as a whole. On a more positive note, the six-party talks have revealed China as a responsible and stable actor and within the time frame examined Japan and China have, warily, moved closer to each other. Also, the six-party talks may yet evolve into the kind of permanent regional institution and forum for exchange and dialogue which today is lacking in East Asia.