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