26 Chang­ing Threat Per­cep­tions and Ja­pan’s Evolv­ing Na­tional Se­cu­rity Pol­icy

Global Asia - - CONTENTS - By Noboru Ya­m­aguchi

un­der shinzo abe, great strides have been made in the coun­try’s abil­ity to re­spond.

With its con­sti­tu­tional lim­i­ta­tions on mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ment, Ja­pan faces unique chal­lenges in an­swer­ing evolv­ing se­cu­rity threats in the re­gion. But un­der Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, the coun­try has made great strides in en­hanc­ing its abil­ity to re­spond to a wide range of po­ten­tial and emerg­ing threats, both on its own and in part­ner­ship with the United States and other coun­tries, writes Noboru Ya­m­aguchi. since COM­ING to of­fice in his sec­ond ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2012, Prime Min­is­ter shinzo abe has taken sig­nif­i­cant steps to en­hance Ja­pan’s na­tional se­cu­rity and de­fense pos­ture. With con­sis­tently high ap­proval rat­ings, abe has ex­er­cised strong lead­er­ship in up­grad­ing Ja­pan’s na­tion­alse­cu­rity poli­cies by 1) is­su­ing Ja­pan’s first na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy in 2013; 2) re-in­ter­pret­ing Ja­pan’s con­sti­tu­tion in 2014 to al­low limited ex­er­cise of the right of col­lec­tive de­fense; and 3) es­tab­lish­ing new le­gal pro­vi­sions for the op­er­a­tions of the Ja­pan self De­fense Forces (JSDF) in 2015. In ad­di­tion, af­ter more than two decades of grad­ual de­creases, Ja­pan’s de­fense spend­ing started to in­crease un­der the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion, reach­ing a record 5.19 tril­lion yen for the fis­cal year 2018, rep­re­sent­ing a 1.3 per­cent in­crease in nom­i­nal terms from the pre­vi­ous year.

Evolv­ing threat per­cep­tions

Ja­pan’s Min­istry of De­fense, through its var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions, has de­clared that the strate­gic en­vi­ron­ment sur­round­ing Ja­pan has be­come in­creas­ingly se­vere, with var­i­ous chal­lenges and desta­bi­liz­ing fac­tors be­com­ing more tan­gi­ble and acute. so-called con­ven­tional se­cu­rity chal­lenges posed by rel­a­tively tra­di­tional mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion can eas­ily be found in the tai­wan strait and the De­mil­i­ta­rized Zone on the Korean Penin­sula, even as sim­i­lar chal­lenges else­where largely dis­ap­peared with the end of the Cold War three decades ago. On the Korean Penin­sula alone, 1.2 mil­lion north Kore­ans, 600,000 south Kore­ans and a large con­tin­gent of us forces have dealt with pe­ri­ods of high ten­sion since the 1950s.

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