How proactive? How pacifist? Charting Japan’s evolving defence posture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-87
Number of pages25
JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Australian Institute of International Affairs.


  • Asian regional security
  • defence policy
  • Japanese politics
  • military doctrine and capabilities
  • nationalism
  • US–Japan alliance


Dive into the research topics of 'How proactive? How pacifist? Charting Japan’s evolving defence posture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this