Japanese defence policy since 1976: latest trends

Author/s (editor/s):

K.V. Kesavan

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 31

This study sets Japan's defence posture in the context of world politics, especially in regard to the Soviet Union and the United States. The different perceptions of defence by different groups of people in Japan (the man on the street, the political parties and business groups) are discussed. The gradual development from a heavy dependence on the United States for defence is slowly progressing towards a more equal sharing of defence responsibilities between the United States and Japan. The author points out the practical necessities for this change, the pressures that the United States is putting on Japan to carry out this change, and also the problems and fears that arise in Japan because of this pressure. Specific topics covered include the development of defence production industries in Japan, the exchange of weapons technology with the United States, Japan's ability to defend her sea lanes, the concept of collective defence responsibility and the diverse opinions aroused both in Japan itself and in neighbouring countries in regard to these developments.

The author has added an addendum since the publication of the 1983 Japanese Defence White Paper, the reaction to which again emphasises the difficulties Japanese defence planners and politicians face in trying to achieve a balanced defence policy.

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