Conceptual debates on what constitutes human security have continued for two decades. However, the question remains as to whether the introduction of ‘human security' offers any added value to the thinking and ways of achieving wellbeing and security. To provide a preliminary answer to this question, this paper focuses on the case of Japan, a country acknowledged as being one of the most committed advocates of human security in its foreign policy.
This paper aims at collecting data on Japanese key stakeholder perceptions on the utility of the human security concept by conducting interviews with those who are active in the field of human security in government, academia, civil society and the private sector. Based on these interviews, this paper presents ‘issues for further research' on the question of the added value of human security by observing how the human security concept has been understood and evaluated as well as actually applied in practice by Japanese stakeholders.
The Japanese interviewees working in various sectors not only found at least some utility in the human security concept but also our interviews revealed some essential possibilities that the human security notion might bring: greater emphasis could be placed on ‘onsite needs and people-related needs'; the ‘comprehensiveness' of the notion can provide a totally different approach to complex situations of human insecurities; and the ‘freedom to live in dignity' might add a stronger human face to development and security-related projects. Many of the interviewees pointed out the utility of human security in addressing human insecurities in Japan as well.
The paper suggests areas for future human security research. Such will include whether a stronger cross-sectoral/inter-departmental approach could increase the effectiveness of human security approach; how reluctant authorities can be persuaded to accept international assistance; how transnational actors can improve human security when state sovereignty is at issue; how human dignity aspect can be developed in human security policy and research.
Keywords: human security, Japan, perception, stakeholder, interview