Shinzo Abe’s planned reform of the Japanese militaristic structure

Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, 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. 

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, 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.[1] 

Following Japan’s defeat in the Second World War, this article was implemented in the Japanese Constitution in 1947. Its content, which is relatively unique in the modern world, prohibited the Japanese government to get involved in all the different aspects of war, and prohibited funds being used for military purposes.  Japan was allowed to have the necessary individual self-defence, but collective self-defence and participation in U.N.-led peace-keeping operations was not allowed.[2]

Creation of the Self-Defence Forces

Later governments ruled by the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan interpreted this article more freely and, with encouragement of the United States of America, decided to form the Self-Defence Forces in 1954. The SDF are a military force but are by law considered to be an extension of the police force, created to help maintain national security.

Members of Japan's Self-Defence Forces' airborne troops stand at attention during the annual SDF troop review ceremony at Asaka Base in AsakaPicture: Members of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces’ airborne troops stand at attention during the annual SDF troop review ceremony at Asaka Base in Asaka, near Tokyo, October 27, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato

The creation of the SDF was met with quite some resistance from the Japanese citizens due to their post-war anti-militaristic views. To this day, any attempt to increase the budget or the authority of the SDF is mostly considered to be controversial.[3]

Re-interpretation of Article 9

During the summer of 2014 Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister since 2012, and his Cabinet ended the ban that prohibited the SDF from fighting abroad and which prohibited collective self-defence. In short, the SDF are now allowed to help Japan’s allies during wartime and further-more they can now participate in U.N.-led peace-keeping operations.

044285d8-8ce4-11e3-8b82-00144feab7dePicture: Shinzo Abe.

This re-interpretation of Article 9 is supported by the United States of America but was not well-received in other Asian countries. Especially China and South-Korea oppose this new turn of events. In Japan itself, the citizens still fight against this historical event as they think that Japan will get entangled in international disputes. They also think that this re-interpretation is a flagrant disregard of Article 9.[4]

Opposition against the re-interpretation

The Japanese citizens’ wish to cancel this reform of Article 9 is supported by the Democratic Party of Japan, the party in opposition of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Japanese Diet. Following the Cabinet’s decision to reinstate the SDF as a collective self-defence force, the DPJ started writing a bill to halt it.

This bill would firmly state that Japan could only use its right to collective self-defence if and only if Japan was in a direct state of emergency, or was threatened by an invasion. Further-more, this bill would outlaw the introduction of mandatory military service. This is the DPJ’s way to try to stop the shift in Japan’s security policy that Shinzo Abe has been working on during the past two months. The only problem for the DPJ is that if they want this bill to pass, it needs to be endorsed by the party submitting it. It seems as though there are some members of the DPJ who follow the train of thought that was set by Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party.[5]

Inari will keep following the situation and how it will unfold. Once there are new developments, we will post them here on Inari Press.

Keep an eye on our blog for updates.

Works cited (and suggested further reading):




[3] Dolan, Ronald; Robert Worden: Japan: A Country Study. Section 2: “The Self Defense Forces”.



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