Terrorism risks and counterterrorism costs in post-9/11 japan

David Leheny*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyzes the distribution of costs in Japan's counterterrorism since the September 11 attacks on the United States.Working closely with its alliance partner, the United States, the administration of Koizumi Junichirō dispatched troops both to the Indian Ocean and to Iraq, simultaneously depicting the risk of Islamist terrorism as a kind of depoliticized global threat, one unconnected to actual political decisions. In so doing, the government emphasized that counterterrorism would focus not on limiting state activities that might make Japan a target but rather on insulating Japan from potential terrorists. In practice, this meant tighter screening and monitoring of foreigners, as illustrated by the fingerprinting and photographing of aliens on entering Japan. This article reflects on the changes that have taken place in Japan's response to terrorism since the 1977 hijacking of a Japan Air Lines (JAL) flight, when the government of Prime Minister Fukuda Takeo paid a $6 million ransom, released some Japanese Red Army (JRA) prisoners and secured the release of the passengers and crew based on the then popular humanitarian sentiment that 'a human life is heavier than the earth'. Tracing how global counterterrorism conventions have increasingly sought to limit potential disorder and how the Japanese government's own efforts have since moved toward conformity with these international standards, this article demonstrates how terrorism, despite its inherently political nature, can be delinked in political discourse from political choices and turned instead into a secular risk whose costs can be apportioned according to different political logics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-237
Number of pages19
JournalJapan Forum
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Counterterrorism
  • Disorder
  • Immigration
  • Risk
  • Terrorism
  • United states

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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