At the end of 2022, Japan published a new National Security Strategy along with two defence-related strategic documents in which the government under Prime Minister Kishida Fumio announced historic policy changes. These include a significant increase in the defence budget to 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by fiscal year 2027 and the acquisition of so-called counterstrike capabilities. Overall, the goal of Japan’s new strategy is to harness all available national instruments of power in facing security challenges, including in the realms of diplomacy, military, economy, technology, and intelligence.
In this policy brief, Dr Alexandra Sakaki assesses Japan’s rapidly changing defence policy and Tokyo’s plans to massively expand the size and scope of its military. Against a background of Sino-US rivalry, growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and North Korea’s incessant missile launches, the war in Ukraine has served as a powerful catalyst in Japan’s defence and security thinking over the past year. Russia’s invasion illustrated to the Japanese public that real conflict remains a distinct possibility, thereby underlining the importance of defense efforts to ensure deterrence.
Japan’s shifting security strategy has important implications for the alliance with the US as well as for relations with other countries, as Sakaki outlines.
About the Author
Dr Alexandra Sakaki is deputy head of the Asia division at the German Institute for
International and Security Affairs (SWP), and independent foreign policy think tank in
Berlin. Her research focuses on Japanese foreign and security policy as well as Indo-Pacific
security dynamics. She has authored numerous policy papers as well as articles in such
journals as International Affairs, West European Politics, East Asia, and the Australian
Journal of International Affairs.
Disclaimer: The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members. APLN’s website is a source of authoritative research and analysis and serves as a platform for debate and discussion among our senior network members, experts, and practitioners, as well as the next generation of policymakers, analysts, and advocates. Comments and responses can be emailed to email@example.com.
Image: Japan Air Self Defense Forces Komatsu Airbase. Flickr/annintofu.