As Japan's economy grew and gained clout in international markets, the pressure on Japan to become more visible in international political affairs increased. The storm of criticism Japan received for its lack of direct involvement during the Gulf War triggered a national debate, the result of which is still emerging as Japan explores a more proactive foreign policy through multilateral channels. Admittedly, Japan's record of multilateralism since its debut at the Post-World War I Paris Peace Conference to its latest bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council has often been fraught with failures. In some quarters, Japan was dubbed the `silent partner' or even a `free rider' in multilateral institutions. Admittedly passive, admittedly with error, Japanese foreign policy attempted to adapt to conditions set by world leaders and be a full-fledged partner in multilateral institutions. At the threshold of the twenty-first century, Japan must forge its foreign policy between two extremes: the potential destructiveness of modern weaponry and its constitutionally sanctioned denunciation of war. Wedged between these two realities, Japan is morally and politically bound to play a greater role in cooperative security - to ensure the prevention of conflicts via cooperation rather than competition for the maintenance of international peace and security.

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