Japan: Defence and security policy reform

22-01-2016

After a lengthy, fraught parliamentary process, on 20 September 2015 the National Diet of Japan finally approved a long-awaited reform of Japan's defence and security laws. Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s determination won out against opposition from within Parliament and the public. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution has been reinterpreted: Japan's Self-Defence Forces can now come to the aid of any ally which is under attack, in particular the US, which has guaranteed Japan's security since the end of the Second World War. This change was one of a series of reforms and initiatives, which included setting up a National Security Council, defining a national security strategy, adopting a law on classified information and revising the Principles on Arms Exports. The guidelines for cooperation with the US have also been revised. At the same time, Tokyo has begun to develop its military cooperation with other countries in the region. The purpose of these reforms was to make Japan an 'active contributor to peace' in a regional context overshadowed by Chinese ambitions and the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.

After a lengthy, fraught parliamentary process, on 20 September 2015 the National Diet of Japan finally approved a long-awaited reform of Japan's defence and security laws. Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s determination won out against opposition from within Parliament and the public. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution has been reinterpreted: Japan's Self-Defence Forces can now come to the aid of any ally which is under attack, in particular the US, which has guaranteed Japan's security since the end of the Second World War. This change was one of a series of reforms and initiatives, which included setting up a National Security Council, defining a national security strategy, adopting a law on classified information and revising the Principles on Arms Exports. The guidelines for cooperation with the US have also been revised. At the same time, Tokyo has begun to develop its military cooperation with other countries in the region. The purpose of these reforms was to make Japan an 'active contributor to peace' in a regional context overshadowed by Chinese ambitions and the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.