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The regulatory framework of the construction and use of the Japan self-defense forces in military conflicts
Material posted: Publication date: 29-04-2020
Analyzing the legal framework, it should be noted that the main legal documents defining the need for and direction of construction of the "self-defense forces" of Japan are the laws "On the self-defense forces" and "On the establishment of the Department of defense", which came into force in June 1954. After that, they have been supplemented by various amendments regulating the development and use of military units.

The above laws was also the base for the development and implementation of other legal documents, directives and orders of various level and purpose. The assessment of the military-political experts, the most important normative documents in this sphere during the period under review were:

  • the law "On cooperation with the UN in peacekeeping activities" (1992, amended in August 1995);
  • the law "On measures to ensure peace and national security in an emergency situation around Japan" (entered into force 25 September 1999) legally provides a practical implementation of "Basic principles of Japan-us cooperation in defense sphere");the law "On the implementation of the inspection of ships in an emergency situation in the adjacent regions of Japan" (2001);
  • the law "On special measures against terrorism" (2001);
  • the law "On special measures to assist in rebuilding Iraq" (2003);
  • the law "On establishment of the Ministry of defense" (2006);
  • the law "On special measures of technical support" (2008);
  • the law "On measures against piracy" (2009).

A new stage in the development of legal support of military construction was due to re-came to power in December 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, committed to the formation of the full sun. In this period the policy of the government on the creation of a militarily strong state become a reality. Despite continuing financial difficulties, in 2013, "the self-defense forces" began to be funded in priority order. According to foreign experts, the military and political leadership of Japan in this period has identified three main directions of reforming of military construction.

First, official recognition of the right to collective self-defence. EDS had reason to take up arms and engage in hostilities only in the case of a direct attack or in the event of immediate threats to the country. For this reason, "the self-defense forces" could not render the effective assistance the allies and to interact quickly with the implementation of joint combat missions, including peacekeeping operations.

Second, the substantiation of possibility to apply preventive strikes on military targets of the enemy, mostly due to the unpredictability of the situation surrounding the nuclear program of the DPRK.

Thirdly, the partial lifting of the ban on arms exports. In accordance with the three principles approved by Parliament in 1967, Japan has refused to supply weapons to Communist-bloc countries; the States in respect of which there is a UN ban on arms imports; the countries involved or has a high probability to be involved in active hostilities.

As the legislative justification for a new military policy of the Japanese government has in December 2013 a package of normative documents defining the state policy in the field of national security for the foreseeable future, namely the national security Strategy, national defense and the construction Plan of the armed forces of Japan.

In 2014, the government headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took the decision of "rethinking" postwar Constitution and initiated bills that extend the powers of "self-defense forces". The government decree "On improvement of legislation in the sphere of ensuring state security and protection of the lives of Japanese citizens" (adopted on 1 July 2014) identified the main challenges: ensuring interdepartmental interaction and cooperation with the us forces in situations of "gray zones" of security, the revision of the criteria of "self-defense forces" in international operations, the recognition of the right to collective self-defence. It can be argued that this decision of the Japanese government initiated the process of radical changes in military legislation of the country.

The package of documents regulating the activities of "self-defense forces" in various operations outside the country, known as the "Law on peace and security", which entered into force in March 2016, provided a new legal interpretation of the 9th article of the Constitution (without formal modification of the text). In particular, repealed the ban on the use of weapons by Japanese soldiers in international peace operations abroad, and provides for their participation in operations to protect Japanese nationals in other countries (operation on release of hostages); use of "self-defense forces" outside Japanese territory to protect allies from attacks of the common enemy (the right to collective self-defence during the attack on the state, having allied relations); simplified procedure for the adoption by the Cabinet of Ministers decisions about the use of "self-defense forces".

According to experts, the new legislation creates the necessary legal basis for the application of the right to collective self-defence, the voluntary renunciation which is the characteristic feature of Japan's military policy. Regulatory instruments are changing the scope and nature of the EDS participate in operations outside its territory, removing some restrictions on actions in the framework of international security.

It should be borne in mind that, according to Japanese news sources, against legislative changes are 50 to 60 percent of the population. According to opponents of the new laws, proposed legislation is in direct violation of the Constitution. In addition, the expansion interpretation of the 9th article of the basic law could trigger state involvement in hostilities which Japan did not participate after the Second world war.

In December 2018, the country's Parliament adopted a new edition of the previously mentioned normative documents, namely: the Program of national defense (PNO) (National Defense Program Guidelines, NDPG), designed to 2029, and the Medium-term plan of building the armed forces of Japan (2019-2024 years) (Mid-Term Defense Program, MTDP). Documents reglementary the activities of state bodies in the sphere of defense, define the basic tendencies of development of "self-defense forces" and konkretisiert plans procurement of weapons and military equipment. According to the Ministry of defence, only for the first five years of operation, the CTL plans to spend 27 trillion. yen ($238 billion dollars.) which is 6.4% more than the previous budget.

The main tasks of military development for the near future is the formation of favorable conditions for ensuring national security through the integration of all capabilities of the state and society, the creation of effective structure of forces and means able to fend off the threatened invasion of the enemy into the country with minimal damage to the economy and the population.

In the military-political field, the priority will remain the strengthening of allied relations with the United States, which in the foreseeable future will remain a guarantor of Japan's national security under the threat of large-scale armed conflict. As noted in the PNA " the conditions of growing competition between countries in various areas of the United States recognize that an important challenge is strategic rivalry with Russia and China trying to change regional and global order."

In the military-technical relationship is assumed to implement a number of measures related to the modernization of the naval component of the EDS, in particular, to continue the refurbishment of two destroyers-helicopter "Izumo" in light aircraft carriers and to procure for these purposes, batch of 42 fighters fifth generation F-35B. To replace outdated air force fleet further it is planned to purchase 63 units F-35A. In 2023 it is planned to deploy on the island of Honshu two ground-based missile defense system "aegis Ashore" (Aegis Ashore). In addition, the plans of the Ministry of defence provides for the establishment of a specialized electronic warfare aircraft and the development of a new generation of fighter aircraft to replace the F-15J and F-2. In the list of priorities of military development called the strengthening of capabilities in space and cyberspace.

Thus, as a result of adopting the above laws were eliminated geographical restrictions on the activities of "self-defense forces", and also lowered the threshold for the use of military force, which is certainly reflected at the global and regional status of Japan. The reforms, and developed in recent years, legal documents, allow Japan to more fully realize international commitments related to the settlement of conflicts, and are expected to increase in the future, the chances of Japanese diplomacy to acquire the status of permanent member of the UN Security Council. The legislation establishes the globalization of the Japanese-American Alliance and creates new opportunities for multilateral cooperation. In addition, established a regulatory framework for closer relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO), which in fact is a primary participant in the so-called "settlement" of the armed conflicts around the world, acting solely in the interests of Western countries.

It should be noted that the CDF of Japan taken measures to ensure legal recognition of "self-defense forces" as a full-fledged and full-fledged aircraft reflect the General tendency of increasing nationalist orientation of internal and foreign policy. The government and the Parliament strengthened the position of supporters of radical change in post-war legislation and delisting in the near term provisions, formally limiting the possibility of Japan becoming a world power with all its sovereign state attributes. Despite claims that the status of "self-defense forces" under the military-doctrinal units remains unchanged, it is becoming increasingly evident desire of Tokyo to reinforce the importance of the sun as a means of achieving foreign policy goals. It should be noted that the above points to the true intention of Japan to become in the future one of the strongest in the military powers of the world.

It is quite obvious that the main obstacle to the implementation of these intentions is currently the country's Constitution. However, as we know, in may of 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set a deadline for revising article 9 of the Constitution (2020), in order to fully ensure the legal status of "self-defense forces" of Japan.

Japanese media, in connection with the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-us agreement "On mutual cooperation and security", noted: "the past years were characterized by the gradual withdrawal of Japan from the principles enshrined in article 9 of the Constitution. This departure is reflected in the increased military cooperation with the United States, as well as the now familiar direction of military contingents of the Japanese "self-defense forces" overseas."[1]

Thus, the results of the analysis of the legal framework of Japan in the field of national security and military construction allow us to assert that the current legal rules legally provide for the effective functioning of the "self-defense forces" in peace and war. The main directions of improvement of military legislation in the short term CDF of a country is determined by further adjustments to the regulatory framework, including the basic law of the state to guarantee national security in conditions of unfavourable development of the military-political situation in the region.


Ruslan Bolonchuk



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[1] the Asahi Shimbun. 2020 online resource:


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