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Japanese Security Policy: Japanese policies for the Japan-U.S. alliance

Written by:  Tomoki YAGASAKI, Chuo University & Kohei HAYAKAWA Chuo University


In Japan, summer in the 2015 was the hot season in disputing security bill. This law review tries to examine its content at first, and to consider the intentions of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, from two viewpoints of ‘the Japan- U.S. Security Treaty’ and ‘Japanese Constitution’. On the introduction of his major policies called “Proactive Contribution to Peace,” we try to reveal the current government’s direction on the security policies.

II. Approval of the Security Bills

Japan’s parliament has voted to allow the military to fight overseas for the first time since the end of World War II 70 years ago. Despite polls showing vast public disapproval, ongoing protests against legislations of the security bills on a scale not seen in decades, and scores of scholars disputing its constitutionality, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s signature security legislation has passed both houses. A vote on the new law was delayed for several hours as the opposition tried to stop the measure coming into force. Outside, demonstrators rallied in a last ditch show of protest. Finally, the bills were enforced on 29 March, 2016, and the State Department welcomed its establishment.

Cleary, this approval of the bills is historical changes for Japan. Three things were raised as the main changes to be paid attention.

  • the right of collective-self defense got to be recognized when these three conditions are met:
  • when Japan is attacked, or when a close ally is attacked, and the result threatens Japan’s survival and poses a clear danger to people
  • when there is no other appropriate means available to repel the attack and ensure Japan’s survival and protect its people
  • use of force is restricted to a necessary minimum
  • the government came to be able to use logistic support all over the world and established the lasting law for logistic support for international contribution.

In the Japan peacekeeping operations, Self-Defense Forces was allowed to use weapons to dispatch its members to rescue civilians in remote locations: by this bills are enacted, SDF were permitted to attend in the mission only to defend their own forces.

Mr. Abe’s government has pushed for security legislation that would allow Japan’s military to mobilize overseas: we usually hear the term kyokosaiketsu, meaning “forced passage,” applied to the ruling party’s passing the security bill through the strength of numbers.

So what made him rush in the approval of the bills?

III. The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty

The government says that the changes in defense policy are vital to meet new military challenges such as those posed from such nations as China. Against tremendous changing security situation around its nation, Japan had to adopt the limited policy for its security. To keep its security, Japan selected a reinforcement of relationship between Japan and the U.S. for getting the right of the collective self-defense. Japanese government tried to use the deterrent power of the Japan-US alliance as the important security measures. The main grounds for approving the security bills must be for the government to put its priority on the security of the national policies.

The necessary of the Japan-U.S. alliance is explained on the home page of Ministry of Foreign Affairs: this is answer to the question’ Why the system of the Japan-U.S. alliance is necessary.

我が国を取り巻く安全保障環 境は、一層厳しさを増していま す。このような安全保障環境の 中、日本の平和と安全を確保す るためには、我が国の防衛力を 適切に整備するとともに、日米安 保条約を引き続き堅持すること により、米軍の前方展開を維持 し、その抑止力を確保することが 必要です。日米安保体制は、こうした日米 協力関係の重要な側面となって います。[1]

‘The security environment surrounding our country is becoming still more serious. In such environment, for securing Japanese peace and security, it is needed not only to maintain defense capacity of our country appropriately, but also to maintain the deterrent by keeping U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and deploying the United States Armed Forces. The U.S.-Japan Security Treaty system is important for a collaborative relationship between Japan and the United States.’

In the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, first signed in 1952 at San Francisco. Article III and Article V mention how each country should face each domestic constitution at that time.


The Parties, individually and in cooperation with each other, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop, subject to their constitutional provisions, their capacities to resist armed attack.


Each Party recognizes that an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional provisions and processes. Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

These parts proved that the Japan- U.S. Security Treaty was established with respectful on each country’s constitution at least on the paper.

IV. Japanese Constitution

Historically, the Japan-U.S. alliance has been globalized. And both countries have each domestic evaluation. In particular, in Japan, its globalization has been often criticized. One of the views of critics, the globalization of the Japan-U.S. alliance has some problems in that the U.S. tends not to paid attention to the discord of the alliance, or the Japanese domestic limitation: Constitution.

However, on the Japanese constitution, there are some different interpretations on the important parts like the arguments of the security bills. Let me introduce Article 9 ‘RENUNCIATION OF WAR’ as one of the examples.

Article 9


Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of the force as means of settling international disputes.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

Generally speaking, the part of Article 9 has been interpreted in two ways. One is that the Constitution clearly restricts the government’s use of military force literally. The other is that the Constitution restricts the government’s use of military force, but permit the right of the self-defense.

Prime Minister Abe originally set out to revise Article 9 of the Constitution, which renounces war and, traditionally, military action outside self-defense. As Abe found revision of Article 9 too difficult, he then tried to the rewrite Article 96, which would make it easier to amends to the Constitution easier. Finding resistance too strong once again, he abandoned revising the Constitution and simply asserted the right to reinterpret it to allow for military action deemed “collective selfdefense.”

In this time argument of the security bills, many Japanese attached to the Article 9 ‘RENUNCIATION OF WAR’ in the constitution which banned fighting overseas.

V. The policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace

Then, on the other hand, how Mr. Abe reasoned the establishment of the security bills? His basic policies are explained at the website of the Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Basic Policies[5]

While firmly following the path of a peace-loving nation, Japan, as a major player in the international community, will put the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” into practice as well as work closely with the countries concerned including the United States.

Japan’s basic policy[6]

Under the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation, Japan will contribute even more proactively in securing peace, stability and prosperity of the international community while achieving its own security as well as peace and stability in the region.

  • Firmly follow the path of a peaceloving nation
  • Continue to be a major player in the international politics and economy
  • Coordinate closely with other countries including the United States

He tried to change the policies of the Japanese security into ‘Proactive Contribution to Peace.’

VI. Conclusion

Mr. Abe’s trial to change constitution is reflected on this time approval of the security bills. That approval of the security bills proved the presence of Japanese government’s request to reinforce the relationship of the Japan-U.S. alliance. This request is resulted from the Japanese governments’ concerns against changing security situation around its nation. For Japan, there was dilemma that reinforcing power of the deterrent for the security is contradicted with the domestic constitution. Though respects of the each constitution are stated at the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, alliance is seemed not to have enough attention to the some important parts of Japanese constitution. This is one of the causes making different interpretation of the constitution. Mr. Abe change the historical government’s constitutional interpretation and promote the policies of the Proactive Contribution to Peace.




[1] Ministry of Foreign Affairs

[2] ‘Japan-U.S. Security Treaty,’ Ministry of foreign Affairs of Japan

[3] ‘Japan-U.S. Security Treaty,’ Ministry of foreign Affairs of Japan

[4] National Diat Library

[5] ‘Japanese security policy,’ Foreign Affairs of Japan

[6] ‘Japanese security policy,’ Foreign Affairs of Japan


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