Japan: Foreign and Security Policy at a Crossroads

26-08-2015

On 16 July 2015, the Lower House of Japan’s Diet (the House of Representatives) approved a controversial package significantly reducing barriers to the deployment of Japanese defence forces overseas. This is the most significant change to have been made to Japan’s security and defence policy since World War II. The reforms promoted by Prime Minister Abe represent a fundamental shift in Japan’s foreign and security policy since WWII. Abe’s reforms are the logical consequence of a process of revision started more than twenty years ago with the end of the Cold War and later fuelled by the need to contest and contain the rising of China as a regional and global power. These reforms, including the reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, have been undertaken in a context of constantly shifting regional balance in the Asia-Pacific region, where Japan has been increasingly threatened by both China and North Korea. This has prompted a significant upgrade in relations with the US and may pave the way for a new phase of Japanese foreign policy, but also has a negative impact on Japan’s already lukewarm relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Koreas.

On 16 July 2015, the Lower House of Japan’s Diet (the House of Representatives) approved a controversial package significantly reducing barriers to the deployment of Japanese defence forces overseas. This is the most significant change to have been made to Japan’s security and defence policy since World War II. The reforms promoted by Prime Minister Abe represent a fundamental shift in Japan’s foreign and security policy since WWII. Abe’s reforms are the logical consequence of a process of revision started more than twenty years ago with the end of the Cold War and later fuelled by the need to contest and contain the rising of China as a regional and global power. These reforms, including the reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, have been undertaken in a context of constantly shifting regional balance in the Asia-Pacific region, where Japan has been increasingly threatened by both China and North Korea. This has prompted a significant upgrade in relations with the US and may pave the way for a new phase of Japanese foreign policy, but also has a negative impact on Japan’s already lukewarm relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Koreas.