After 60 years maintaining Self-Defense Forces rather than a normal military, Japan is moving towards exercising collective self-defence, long restricted by interpretations of its 1945 Peace Constitution. The merits of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's ‘proactive pacifism’ are intensely debated by those welcoming greater international contributions from Japan and others suspicious of Japanese ‘remilitarisation’. A nation’s defence posture can theoretically be hijacked by aggressive nationalists, shift to pacifist isolationism, or rely on non-military internationalism or multilateral security cooperation. This article assesses competing explanations about the post-war trajectory of Japan’s defence posture by charting variation in military doctrine and capabilities. The analysis finds that Tokyo has made incremental policy adjustments under domestic and international constraints, and is not aggressively remilitarising.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 Australian Institute of International Affairs.
- Asian regional security
- defence policy
- Japanese politics
- military doctrine and capabilities
- US–Japan alliance