The Japanese are still torn between pacifism and national security requirements. Pacifism is gradually being replaced by patriotism built on the falsification of school history books, which appals Japan’s neighbours, while East Asian geopolitics are being buffeted by North Korean weapon tests and the revision of the Japanese Constitution. Can Japan break free from its history? It must first acknowledge the errors of the past, and could subsequently adopt a form of Gaullism. A non-nuclear Japan could then play a role in Asia appropriate to the world’s second economic power.