Japan’s Security Evolution

February 25, 2016 • Policy Analysis No. 788
By Jennifer Lind

In 2015, Japan passed landmark reforms of its national security laws, including a reinterpretation of its constitutional prohibition against collective security activities. Now Japan can legally cooperate with the United States in defensive military operations. In response, observers have declared that Japan is abandoning the pacifist principles that have underpinned its national security policy since World War II. Such pronouncements are misguided; these reforms are only the most recent recalibration of Japan’s postwar grand strategy. Since World War II, Japan has relied upon the U.S.-Japan alliance for its national security. It prefers to “buck‐​pass” to the United States, but — at times of growing threat and uncertainty about the U.S. commitment — Tokyo has built greater military capabilities and accepted more roles within the alliance. The most recent national security reforms conform to this familiar pattern: Japan continues to buck‐​pass, but — as its threat environment grows increasingly dangerous because of a more powerful and more assertive China — Japan has accepted a larger role within the alliance. The recent security reforms represent continuity, rather than change, in a pattern in which Japan relies upon the United States for its security but contributes more to the alliance when its security environment worsens. From Washington’s standpoint, Japan’s greater activism and burden‐​sharing within the alliance is welcome news.


Taro Yamamoto swayed forward. He and his colleagues in the Japanese opposition had exhausted every tactic to kill or delay the vote on the 2015 national security legislation. Finally forced to vote, Yamamoto exercised one last gesture of protest, known in Japan’s parliament as the “ox walk.” Although the box into which Yamamoto would cast his vote was not far away in the wood‐​paneled chamber, he moved across the burgundy carpet a millimeter at a time. During Yamamoto’s walk, some of his colleagues scolded him in exasperation, but outside the chamber, where thousands of demonstrators had gathered, protesters cheered him on: Taro, Ganbare! — You can do it! But ultimately the vote occurred, and after one of the most contested debates in Japan in decades, the legislation passed.1

Japan’s constitution prohibits the country from having or using a military, but over the past several decades governments have passed laws to reinterpret constitutional restraints. The 2015 legislation, the most recent in this longtime evolution, enables Japan to participate in “collective security operations.” For the first time, Japanese personnel from its Self‐​Defense Forces (SDF) can engage in combat to support the United States when it is defending Japan, or to support other security partners under attack. In such instances, the legislation stipulates that the situation must threaten Japan’s survival, that no other appropriate means of defense exist, and that the use of force will be restrained to what is minimally required. For example, according to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other proponents of security reforms, Japanese forces could defend an American ship that is attacked while evacuating Japanese citizens from a conflict.

As news of the legislation spread around the world, headlines announced the end of Japanese pacifism. Before the vote, CNN declared, “Assertive Japan poised to abandon 70 years of pacifism.” The Japan Times said that the new legislation marked “a significant departure from Japan’s postwar pacifism.“2Newsweek heralded it as “the most significant shift in Tokyo’s defense policy since World War II.“3 As Andrew Oros notes, “there is a palpable fear among many that Japan is on the verge of a major break from the past sixty years of peaceful security practice.“4

Such pronouncements, however, exaggerate both the extent of Japan’s previous pacifism and the magnitude of the changes. The legislation permitting engagement in collective security activities is indeed a significant moment in Japan’s 70‐​year evolution in national security. But it does not mark Year Zero of a new era in which Japan is becoming increasingly militarist. Japan’s reforms represent continuity, rather than change, in a pattern in which Japan relies upon the United States for its security, but contributes more to the alliance when its security environment worsens. From Washington’s standpoint, Japan’s greater activism and burden‐​sharing within the alliance is welcome news.

Japan’s Security Debates after the War

After World War II, starting with the U.S. occupation of Japan, Washington pursued a policy aimed at preventing Japan from ever again menacing the Asia‐​Pacific.5 A variety of political reforms sought to decentralize the government and make Japanese society more free. The Americans physically and (in the form of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution) legally dismantled Japan’s military. Article 9 states that the Japanese people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” Toward this end, “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.“6

In the wake of the devastating war, many Japanese embraced legal restraints on national security. As scholar Koichi Nakano comments, “For a nation so tired and exhausted after the war — the A‐​bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — this notion that we were going to be eternally in peace appealed to many. A large majority of the Japanese became attached to pacifism.“7

Pacifism was also appealing given Japan’s fear of entanglement in dangerous Cold War crises.8 The American bases in Japan were centerpieces in the U.S. containment of communism in Asia. As the Cold War developed, they served as vital staging points for U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam. Many Japanese worried that those bases would draw them into a nuclear war with the Soviet Union and China.9 As Christopher Hughes writes, “The major concern” for Japanese leaders “at the time of the signing of the [1960] security treaty and ever since, was the possibility of entrapment in U.S. regional and global military strategy.“10

A pacifist foreign policy also checked the power of the military and its supporters, who remained distrusted by Japanese liberals as well as many moderates. Many people sought to curtail the military’s influence in politics because they blamed it for the disaster of the war. The left also distrusted industrialists and political conservatives in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for their previous support of imperialism. Most notoriously, liberals distrusted Prime Minister Nobosuke Kishi, who had been a member of Japan’s wartime cabinet and was now advocating a more robust military and a close relationship with the United States. (As it happens, Kishi is also the grandfather of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s current prime minister, who is spearheading contemporary reforms.) After the war, Japanese liberals blamed the disaster of imperialism on conservatives, the Japanese military, and Kishi specifically. The liberals argued that a pacifist security policy was essential to protect Japan’s nascent democracy.11

American occupation authorities had initially advocated Japanese pacifism as well, and had drafted Article 9 so that Japan could never again menace its neighbors. But as the Cold War dawned, the Americans reversed course and sought to make Japan into a strong anti‐​communist ally.12 The Americans encouraged Japanese contributions to the war in Korea in 1950, and — when Japan’s government refused — urged it to create the National Police Reserve, to fill the void left by American troops that had departed for Korea. But as Japan’s leaders created the police reserve (which would become the SDF), they confronted the constraint of Article 9. Pushed by Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, the cabinet made the decision to “reinterpret” the constitution, declaring that such forces were legal because Japan, like all nations, had a right to self‐​defense according to the United Nations Charter.13

In sum, pacifism had its champions in postwar Japan; and in addition to its moral grounds, it had a powerful political logic, both international and domestic. But Japan rejected pacifism. Starting under Yoshida, conservative leaders crafted a grand strategy based on limited rearmament and the U.S.-Japan alliance as the foundation of Japan’s national security policy. Japan granted the use of military bases to the U.S. military and created the SDF, but — to concentrate on economic reconstruction and guard against entanglement — Japan would do as little in the security realm as possible, and would pass the buck to Washington.14

Japan’s Buck‐​Passing Strategy during the Cold War

According to buck‐​passing logic, a country seeks to maintain a favorable balance of power but shifts most of the burden of balancing to its ally.15 If the balance of power becomes unfavorable, the buck‐​passer initially prefers to have allies pay the costs of restoring the balance. A buck‐​passer will increase its defense commitment if, given an unfavorable balance of power, the ally fails to respond adequately.

Japanese buck‐​passing is evident in the pattern of its rearmament — or lack thereof — since World War II. From 1950 until the mid‐​1970s, the United States and Japan enjoyed a favorable balance of power relative to their adversaries.16 During this era, the Soviet Union devoted the bulk of its military power to the European, rather than the East Asian, theater. China and North Korea were hostile to Japan, but their military power was predominantly ground‐​focused. During this period, Japan built up little in the way of military power and dodged Washington’s requests to contribute forces to American military operations in Korea and Vietnam.

But Japan’s security environment worsened in the late 1970s. The Soviet Union began building up its Pacific Fleet, increasing the number of ballistic missile submarines and surface ships until it was the largest of the four Soviet fleets. American military analysts perceived Kiev‐​class heavy aviation cruisers, introduced after 1978, as “a first step in challenging Western carrier and air‐​power dominance on the high seas.“17 The Soviets built up their air force in Eastern Siberia and expanded their regional presence by taking over U.S. naval and air bases in Vietnam after the U.S. withdrawal.

Particularly worrisome to Japan were increased Soviet amphibious capabilities in the Kurile Islands, a fingernail away from Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido.18 A U.S. defense official commented in 1983, “The dramatic increase of Soviet offensive power in Asia and in the Pacific and Indian Oceans is the most far‐​reaching military development in recent years.” And Japan, as one analyst noted, was the “target” of this military buildup.19

In this increasingly unsettling security environment, explained a 1983 RAND Corporation study, the “remarkably rapid buildup of Soviet military capabilities over the course of the 1970s was accompanied by a concomitant diminishing of those of the United States.“20 The United States had pulled its forces out of Vietnam, was planning to remove all U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula (under the Carter administration), and was reducing the size of its forces deployed in the region. As Soviet Pacific Fleet naval tonnage grew to displace 1.6 million tons by 1982, the U.S. Seventh Fleet had fallen to 600,000 tons.21 After the Shah’s overthrow in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Washington’s gaze — as well as American military force — was increasingly directed toward the Persian Gulf.

Japan responded to its worsening threat environment by building up its military capabilities and taking on new roles in the U.S.-Japan alliance. Tokyo acquired a world‐​class air force; starting in 1978 it purchased top‐​of‐​the‐​line F-15 fighter jets and E-2C naval command‐​and‐​control aircraft. Japan also embarked on a substantial naval buildup, purchasing 100 state‐​of‐​the‐​art P-3C naval patrol aircraft, quiet Yushio-class diesel‐​electric submarines, and four guided missile destroyers equipped with sophisticated Aegis radar.22

During these years, in addition to bolstering its capabilities, Tokyo assumed a more active role in the alliance. In 1978, the United States and Japan signed the Guidelines for Defense Cooperation, in which Japan agreed to expand its military participation from operations confined to the home islands to operations for the provision of “peace and stability” throughout East Asia. The two militaries began a series of joint planning and — within all branches of the Japanese Self‐​Defense Forces — joint training for sea‐​lane defense, joint operations, and interoperability.23 After 1981, under Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki, Japan took on the responsibility of patrolling sea lanes up to 1,000 nautical miles from Japanese coasts.

During the 1970s, expansions in Japanese capabilities and missions prompted a domestic outcry. The left protested the addition of capabilities that they claimed were illegal, and argued that the constitution forbade joint military exercises. However, the ruling LDP declared that the new capabilities were defensively oriented and argued that military exercises only enhanced tactical training and did not commit Japan to collective defense.

In sum, evidence from the Cold War reflects Japanese buck‐​passing. In its decision to align with the United States, Tokyo eschewed the pacifism advocated by the left, but pursued a highly restrained national security policy of limited rearmament and avoidance of military activism. In general, Tokyo increased its military capabilities and roles only when it had to: when the security environment worsened, and when the United States looked unlikely to rectify the imbalance.

New Threats, New Roles

Throughout the Cold War, fearing entanglement in American military adventures, Japan resisted participating in “collective security.” Its leaders kept Japan out of wars in Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf. However, after the first Iraq war, stung by global criticism of “free riding,” Japan for the first time passed a peacekeeping (or “PKO”) law, which allowed unarmed Japanese peacekeepers to participate in UN peacekeeping operations under highly restrictive conditions.24 Over the next several years Japan moved further toward collective security: after the September 11 attacks on the United States, Japan sent naval ships to the Indian Ocean to support the U.S. military in Afghanistan, and in 2004 dispatched peacekeepers to Iraq to support the U.S. occupation.

Prime Minister Abe has led Japan even further: in 2014 his cabinet passed a highly controversial official reinterpretation of the constitution that declared “collective security” operations constitutional.25 The following year, amid the pomp of Abe’s state visit to Washington, the two governments signed another revision of the Guidelines for Defense Cooperation. The 2015 guidelines deepen Japan’s defense cooperation and interoperability within the U.S.-Japan alliance. They “outline the nature of cooperation between the United States and Japan in peacetime and wartime,” explains Ankit Panda in The Diplomat, “detailing avenues of cooperation on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), air and missile defense, maritime security, asset protection, training and exercises, logistic support, and use of facilities. Similar to the older guidelines, the new document details how the United States and Japan would respond before, after, and during an attack against Japanese territory.“26

The 2015 guidelines also discuss a broader role for the alliance, seeking to promote security cooperation both with regional partners and around the world. Additionally, for the first time the guidelines indicate space and cyber as two areas for expanding U.S.-Japan cooperation; they also discuss armaments cooperation (only made possible in the wake of Japan’s overturning of its Arms Export Ban in 2004).27 The guidelines announce a “whole of government” approach, which, as Kyle Mizokami writes, “will knit the two countries together at the civil and military levels.” A new feature, the “Alliance Coordination Mechanism” comprised of top officials from each country, seeks to streamline communication and coordination between the SDF and the U.S. military.28

Before the signed guidelines could be legally implemented, the Diet — Japan’s legislative body — had to pass legislation to permit collective security activities. This cart‐​before‐​horse approach was one of the many aspects of the security legislation that angered Abe’s domestic critics. Critics also objected that the legislation was unconstitutional, and some feared that it would encourage Japan to be entangled in American wars.29 In spite of this opposition, the legislation — pushed forward by Abe and his ample conservative majority in the Diet — eventually passed.

These expansions in Japan’s military roles uphold the pattern in which Japan increases its military contribution at times of elevated threat. Consider, for example, Japanese fears about a volatile North Korea. “Since the end of the Cold War,” explains Japan scholar Sheila A. Smith, “North Korea’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons and the missile capability to deliver them further and further from its shores have alarmed the Japanese public. Incidents with North Korean ships off the Japanese coast have also drawn serious concern.“30

As Smith and others have noted, even more concerning is the growing threat from China. The new legislation comes in reaction to a trend in which China has been steadily modernizing its maritime forces and acting increasingly assertive in its territorial disputes. Although China and Japan enjoy thriving economic relations, their relationship has evolved into one of “hot economics, cold politics,” in which mutual antipathy is high and tensions over a territorial dispute concerning the Senkaku/​Diaoyu islands are rising. In Japan in 2007, 29 percent of respondents said they viewed China favorably; by 2014 this dropped to only 5 percent. Fully 82 percent of respondents said that territorial disputes were a serious concern, and 96 percent said that they viewed China’s growing military power negatively.31

As Japanese politician Keisuke Suzuki observed, “The Chinese mainland is now behaving in a really aggressive way both in the South China Sea and East China Sea and they clearly have the intention to attack Japanese interests. This is a critical moment for Japan’s national security.“32 During the Diet debate over revising the guidelines, Prime Minister Abe argued that “These laws are absolutely necessary because the security situation surrounding Japan is growing more severe.“33

Japan’s increased military participation also conforms to a pattern in which uncertainty about its U.S. ally encourages greater Japanese activism. Advocates of the 2015 legislation argued that growing uncertainty about the United States — specifically, whether it would defend the disputed islands — requires Japan to play a larger role in the alliance. American officials, including President Obama, have repeatedly declared that, although Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the islands, they are clearly “administered” by Japan and thus protected by the U.S.-Japan alliance. But despite such assurances, many in Japan question whether the United States would risk an unwanted and potentially devastating war with China — a nuclear‐​armed vital political and economic partner — over an issue in which the United States has no direct interest.

As one member of a Japanese national security advisory panel commented, “The United States does not want to fight for such islets.” He noted, “Unless Japan shows that it is prepared to fight together with the United States when the time comes, the United States will say to Japan about defense of its outlying islands, ‘OK, sayonara.’ ”34 The LDP’s Keisuke Suzuki argued that the only way “we can survive in this region is to strengthen ties with the United States and the international community and we need this bill to do that.“35

Indeed, Washington welcomed Japan’s 2015 security legislation. Alliance managers had previously argued that Japan’s prohibition on collective security activities was a problem to be rectified. In a 2012 report about the alliance, Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye noted that the unified U.S.-Japan response to the March 11, 2011, tsunami and nuclear disaster showed how effectively the two countries could work together under a permissive legal framework. “Prohibition of collective self‐​defense is an impediment to the alliance,” they wrote. “3–11 demonstrated how our two forces can maximize our capabilities when necessary. It would be a responsible authorization to allow our forces to respond in full cooperation throughout the security spectrum of peacetime, tension, crisis, and war.“36

When Washington and Tokyo announced the 2015 security guidelines, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Today, we mark the establishment of Japan’s capacity to defend not just its own territory but also the [United States] and other partners as needed. The guidelines…will enhance Japan’s security, deter threats, and contribute to regional peace and stability.“37 In a Rose Garden press conference during Shinzo Abe’s 2015 Washington visit, President Obama also praised the evolution in Japan’s security policy. “Together,” the president said, “our forces will be more flexible and better prepared to cooperate on a range of challenges, from maritime security to disaster response. Our forces will plan, train, and operate even more closely.“38


In East Asia’s worsening threat environment, greater Japanese military activism is not surprising, nor is it a break from Japan’s postwar policy. Rather than a major departure, the new security legislation is just the most recent recalibration of a familiar strategy. Japan does less when it can; more when it must.39

Cries of “Japan is abandoning pacifism” are not only misleading because they come 70 years too late; they also distort the magnitude of recent changes. Any discussion of increased Japanese military activism must acknowledge that Japan remains the most dovish of the world’s great powers. Japan spends 1 percent of its GDP on defense, which is less than half of the global average of 2.3 percent.40 Its people are unlikely to support higher defense spending; they are preoccupied with internal problems such as stimulating the economy and addressing debilitating demographic trends. And — as shown by the ox‐​walking Taro Yamamoto, his many opposition colleagues, and the tens of thousands protesting outside the Diet — the Japanese people remain deeply apprehensive about even the most minimal levels of military activism. As Adam Liff argues, “Japan’s security policy remains far more self‐​restrained than any other major economic power.“41

Japan’s movement into “collective self‐​defense” is indeed historic — but not as a dramatic abandonment of a previous strategy. It is the most recent step in a long evolution for a peaceful country that today faces a growing threat. And as such, it represents more continuity than change in Japan’s national security policy.


1. See Jonathan Soble, “Japan’s Parliament Approves Overseas Combat Role for Military,” New York Times, September 18, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/19/world/asia/japan-parliament-passes-legislation-combat-role-for-military.html?_r=0; and Justin McCurry, “Japanese Soldiers Could Fight Abroad Again after Security Bill Passed,” The Guardian (London), September 18, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/18/japanese-soldiers-could-fight-abroad-again-after-security-bill-passed.

2. Will Ripley and Emi Yamamitsu, “Assertive Japan Poised to Abandon 70 Years of Pacifism,” CNN, September 18, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/16/asia/japan-military-constitution/; Reiji Yoshida and Mizuho Aoki, “Diet Enacts Security Laws, Marking Japan’s Departure from Pacifism,” Japan Times (Tokyo), September 19, 2015, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/19/national/politics-diplomacy/diet-enacts-security-laws-marking-japans-departure-from-pacifism-2/.

3. Bill Powell, “How Shinzo Abe Became Postwar Japan’s Most Consequential Leader,” Newsweek, September 29, 2015.

4. Andrew L. Oros, Normalizing Japan: Politics, Identity, and the Evolution of Security Practice (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008), p. 1.

5. On the occupation, see John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (New York: Norton, 1999); Toshio Nishi, Unconditional Democracy: Education and Politics in Occupied Japan 1945–1952 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1982).

6. See Library of Congress, “Japan: Article 9 of the Constitution,” Japan Const. art. IX, § 2, http://www.loc.gov/law/help/japan-constitution/article9.php.

7. “Is Japan Abandoning its Pacifism?” BBC, September 23, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34278846. On anti‐​militarist norms in postwar Japan, see Thomas U. Berger, Cultures of Antimilitarism: National Security in Germany and Japan (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003); Yoshihide Soeya, “Japan: Normative Constraints versus Structural Imperatives,” in Asian Security Practice: Material and Ideational Influences, ed. Muthiah Alagappa (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998), pp. 198–233.

8. On entanglement risks in international politics, see Michael Beckley, “The Myth of Entangling Alliances: Reassessing the Security Risks of U.S. Defense Pacts,” International Security 39, no. 4 (Spring 2015): 7–48; Tongfi Kim, “Why Alliances Entangle But Seldom Entrap States,” Security Studies 20, no. 3 (2011): 350–77.

9. On heightened entanglement fears during the 1960 Security Treaty crisis, see Jennifer Lind, “When Camelot Went to Japan,” National Interest (July/​August 2013): 60–70. The classic work is George R. Packard, Protest in Tokyo: The 1960 Security Treaty Crisis (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966).

10. Christopher Hughes, Japan’s Re‐​emergence as a Normal Military Power, Adelphi Paper 368–9 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 23.

11. On security debates in Japan, see Richard J. Samuels, Securing Japan: Tokyo’s Grand Strategy and the Future of Asia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007).

12. On the “reverse course,” see Dower, Embracing Defeat; and Jennifer Lind, “An Unhappy Phase in a Certain Period,” chap. 2 in Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011).

13. Samuels, Securing Japan, chap. 2.

14. Jennifer M. Lind, “Pacifism or Passing the Buck? Testing Theories of Japanese Security Policy,” International Security 29, no. 1 (Summer 2004): 92–121.

15. On buck‐​passing, see Thomas J. Christensen and Jack Snyder, “Chain Gangs and Passed Bucks: Predicting Alliance Patterns in Multipolarity,” International Organization 44, no. 2 (Spring 1990): 137–68; Glenn H. Snyder, “The Security Dilemma in Alliance Politics,” World Politics 36, no. 4 (July 1984): 461–96; John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, 2nd ed. (New York: Norton, 2014). On the distribution of alliance costs, see Mancur Olson and Richard Zeckhauser, “An Economic Theory of Alliances,” Review of Economics and Statistics 48 (1966): 266–79.

16. This section draws upon Lind, “Pacifism or Passing the Buck?”

17. David F. Winkler, Cold War at Sea (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000).

18. Larry Niksch, “Japanese Attitudes toward Defense and Security Issues,” Naval War College Review 36, no. 4 (July/​August 1983): 57–72

19. Lind, “Pacifism or Passing the Buck?”; Derek Da Cunha, Soviet Naval Power in the Pacific (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1990), p. 94.

20. Norman D. Levin, The Strategic Environment in East Asia and U.S.-Korean Security Relations in the 1980s (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1983), p. 2.

21. Hisahiko Okazaki, “Japan’s Security Policy: A Time for Strategy,” International Security 7, no. 2 (Fall 1982): 188–97.

22. Da Cunha, Soviet Naval Power in the Pacific, pp. 221–23.

23. Japan began participating in regional exercises, such as Fleet‐​ex and the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), with not only the United States but with other aligned nations in East Asia. See Sheila A. Smith, “The Evolution of Military Cooperation within the U.S.-Japan Alliance,” in. Michael J. Green and Patrick M. Cronin, eds., The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Past, Present, and Future (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1999); and Da Cunha, Soviet Naval Power in the Pacific.

24. On Japan’s contemporary evolution, see Oros, Normalizing Japan; and Hughes, Japan’s Re‐​emergence.

25. For analysis of these changes in Japanese defense policy, see Adam P. Liff, “Japan’s Defense Policy: Abe the Evolutionary,” Washington Quarterly 38, no. 2 (Summer 2015): 87; Sheila A. Smith, “All He Is Saying Is Give War a Chance,” Foreign Policy, September 18, 2015; and Sheila A. Smith, “Defining Defense: Japan’s Military Identity Crisis,” World Politics Review, May 12, 2015.

26. Ankit Panda, “U.S., Japan Agree to New Defense Guidelines,” The Diplomat, April 28, 2015, http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/us-japan-agree-to-new-defense-guidelines/.

27. Ibid.; Yuki Tatsumi, “4 Takeaways from the New US‐​Japan Defense Guidelines,” The Diplomat, April 29, 2015.

28. Kyle Mizokami, “Inside the New U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines,” U.S. Naval Institute News, April 29, 2015, http://news.usni.org/2015/04/29/inside-the-new-u-s-japan-defense-guidelines.

29. “Constitutional Scholars almost Unanimous that Security Bills Are Unconstitutional,” Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo), July 11, 2015. On public opinion, see Smith, “Defining Defense.”

30. Smith, “Defining Defense.”

31. Pew Research Center poll, Chapter 3, “Attitudes towards China,” http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/07/18/chapter-3-attitudes-toward-china/, July 18, 2013.

32. “Is Japan Abandoning its Pacifism?”

33. Quoted in Jonathan Soble, “Japan Moves to Allow Military Combat for First Time in 70 Years,” New York Times, July 16, 2015.

34. “The Deep Roots of Abe’s Drive for Collective Self‐​Defense,” Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo), March 3, 2014.

35. Quoted in “Is Japan Abandoning its Pacifism?”

36. Richard L. Armitage and Joseph Nye, The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Anchoring Stability in Asia (Washington: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2012), p. 15.

37. Quoted in Julian E. Barnes, “U.S., Japan Announce New Security Agreement,” Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2015.

38. “Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Abe of Japan in Joint Press Conference,” Office of the Press Secretary, April 28, 2015 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/28/remarks-president-obama-and-prime-minister-abe-japan-joint-press-confere.

39. Jennifer Lind, “Japan’s Security Policy: Evolution, Not Revolution,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2015.

40. On this point see Jennifer Lind, “Japan, the Never Normal,” Asia Unbound (blog), Council on Foreign Relations, November 30, 2012. The data are from Sam Perlo‐​Freeman, Aude Fleurant, Pieter D. Wezeman, and Siemon T. Wezeman, “Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2014,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Fact Sheet (Stockholm: SIPRI, 2014).

41. Liff, “Japan’s Defense Policy.”

About the Author
Jennifer Lind