This article questions the notion of "traditional" security by examining security ideas held by policy elites in the Asia-Pacific, particularly in Japan, from the mid-19th century to 1945. It argues that the idea of security of the people was a significant and integral part of the discourse of security during that time. The Japanese case suggests that its implications were not always positive, however. What was problematic was not so much a narrow focus on an external military threat as the way "people" were defined collectively as the nation or national society. As a result, "security" was often used in the context of imperial aggression or wartime mobilization. The article sees the more recent notion of security - namely, societal security - as a revival of this historical notion of security, and reinforces the point that in order to avoid its negative implications, current debates need to go beyond the nation-state framework.
|Publication status||Published - 2006|