With the onset of the 21st century, Japan is
passing through a transformative era in which
it is in the process of forming a new national
role conception. This study argues that as a
result of international pressure, changes in
domestic leadership and social norms, and
a growing desire for respect in international
affairs, Japan has been changing its foreign
policy norms and its national role conception.
The change in Japanese foreign policy manifests
itself most clearly in Japan’s international
peacekeeping behaviour and the accompanying
new legislation governing the functional
limitations on its armed forces. This study
suggests that path dependency increases the
chance that Japanese foreign policy norms and
the resulting behavioural effects will push Japan
towards a more internationalist path, with
contribution to peacekeeping being its most
definitive behavioural outcome, thus offering
“peacekeeping state” as a new National Role
Conception that has the potential to define
Japan’s role in the world in the future.