The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research


The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research

Japan's New Security Strategy: Multilayered and Cooperative Security Strategy

February 4, 2009

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(165 KB, 40 pages)

Amid dramatic changes in the security environment surrounding Japan since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Tokyo Foundation is presenting a comprehensive security strategy that incorporates diplomacy, economics, and culture, based on a national strategy for enhancing Japan's interests.

These recommendations are the outcome of the Tokyo Foundation's National Security Research Project, carried out over a one-and-a-half-year period beginning in April 2007. Senior Research Fellow Shinichi Kitaoka and Project Leader Akihiko Tanaka, both professors at the University of Tokyo, were the principal figures behind the project. The original Japanese version of these recommendations was issued on October 8, 2008, and is now available in English.

Taking into account the accumulated discussions of those in the public and private sectors, this report affirms Japan's national strategy and offers an analysis of the country's security environment. It then presents a new security strategy formulated at four different levels, and finally, suggests ways in which Japan can prepare for the implementation of this strategy.

Japan now finds itself in danger of losing its relevance within the international community. In this regard, these recommendations could be considered the minimum measures required for safeguarding its interests, and thus, from the standpoint of greatly advancing these interests, they constitute a framework for devising more incisive and ambitious strategies.

The strategies proposed in this report incorporate four levels of approach: the country's own defense capability, the Japan-U.S. alliance, regional security, and international peace cooperation. It need hardly be added that the aforementioned are interrelated, rather than independent fields of analysis.

A buildup of Japan's multi-functional, flexible defense capability, revising constitutional interpretation, and the establishment of a National Security Council, among other proposals, make up the core of these recommendations. Some of the more specific suggestions include the continuation of refueling operations in the Indian Ocean and increasing official development assistance (ODA).

With Japan at a political crossroads, it is earnestly hoped that these recommendations will serve as an opportunity to stir a debate on security that is genuinely focused on the country's national interests.

I would also like to add one final note on the significance of the English translation.

The global security environment since October of 2008, as well as changes in Japan's domestic political situation, will naturally require some filling of the gaps on the part of readers. However, the central ideas in these recommendations remain completely unchanged--in fact, when one considers the following, their importance may even be said to have grown.

With Prime Minister Aso Taro in attendance, the Council on Security and Defense Capabilities, composed of knowledgeable experts, held its inaugural meeting on January 9, 2009, at the prime minister's office. There, work was begun on revising the National Defense Program Guidelines.

The Council is expected to submit its report by this summer, with the new National Defense Program Guidelines to be determined in late 2009. As three of the authors of this report--Shinichi Kitaoka, Akihito Tanaka, and Chikako Ueki--also serve as members of the Council, the new Guidelines are expected to incorporate much of what is contained in these recommendations.

As these recommendations emphasize, strategy for the defense of Japan must be calculated as a part of the country's strategy for security, and, in turn, part of its national strategy. In this sense, we are confident that the approach taken in this report will also be applied in determining the new Guidelines.

The Tokyo Foundation intends to continue proactively carrying out activities, both in Japan and abroad, designed to promote understanding of the country's defense, security, and national strategy.

"Japan's New Security Strategy: Multilayered and Cooperative Security Strategy" is now available in PDF format for downloading (165 KB, 40 pages)


    • Research Fellow and Project Manager
    • Shoichi Katayama
    • Shoichi Katayama

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