Japan's policy toward the 2003 Iraq War is a test of the constructivist argument about the weight of norms as opposed to material systemic factors in foreign policy making. Constructions of external threats and interests were contested between a largely realist-minded elite around prime minister Koizumi bent on Japan's remilitarization and those still holding to antimilitarist norms. This contest is traced in an analysis of the policy-making process, including the role of bureaucratic and political institutions, the opposition parties and the public. Indicative of the power of norms, Koizumi was forced to compromise his ambition to use the Iraq crisis to help make Japan a "normal" great power.\u
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