Lowy Institute Papers | 09 November 2004

Unsheathing the Samurai sword: Japan's changing security policy

Japan emerged from World War II as the only country in the world to completely renounce war as a sovereign right. Despite this proscription, Japan’s self-defence forces form a large, technologically advanced military power.

Alan Dupont

  • Alan Dupont

Japan emerged from World War II as the only country in the world to completely renounce war as a sovereign right. Despite this proscription, Japan’s self-defence forces form a large, technologically advanced military power.

Alan Dupont

  • Alan Dupont

Key Findings

  • Japan’s self-defence forces have the world’s third-largest military budget after the US and China.
  • Japan’s increasing willingness to use self-defence forces in support of foreign policy and defence interests represents a defining moment in the country’s postwar security policy.
  • Australia has vested interests in establishing a successful Japan-Australia economic partnership.

Executive Summary

In this Lowy Institute Paper, Lowy Institute Nonresident Fellow and Professor of International Security at the University of New South Wales Alan Dupont analyses Japan’s shifting national security policies, examining Japan’s possible movement towards a more outward-looking security presence and whether this evolution represents a reawakening of Japan’s historically noted martial instincts or a pragmatic way to play a more active role in regional and international affairs. The paper examines regional responses to this evolution and makes seven key recommendations for how Australia, as a fellow member of the US alliance in Asia, can enhance security cooperation with Japan.

The Paper can be downloaded here.