Fundamental Concepts of National Defense

. Basis of Defense Policy

Defense Policy of Japan

The defense policy Japan has pursued under the Constitution is based on the "Basic Policy on National Defense" adopted by the National Defense Council and the Cabinet in May 1957.

The "Basic Policy on National Defense" first states the promotion of efforts for peace such as international collaboration and the establishment of a basis for national security through the stabilization of livelihood of the people etc. ,and then the buildup of efficient defense capability and the Japan-U.S. security arrangements as the basis of Japan's defense.

Basic Policy on National Defense

(Adopted by the National Defense Council and the Cabinet on May 20, 1957)

The objective of national defense is to prevent direct and indirect aggression, but once invaded, to repel such aggression, and thereby, to safeguard the independence and peace of Japan based on democracy.

To achieve this objective, the following basic policies are defined:
(1) Supporting the activities of the United Nations, promoting international collaboration, and thereby, making a commitment to the realization of world peace.
(2) Stabilizing the livelihood of the people, fostering patriotism, and thereby, establishing the necessary basis for national security.
(3) Building up rational defense capabilities by steps within the limit necessary for self-defense in accordance with national strength and situation.
(4) Dealing with external aggression based on the security arrangements with the U.S. until the United Nations will be able to fulfill its function in stopping such aggression effectively in the future.

Other Basic Policies

Based on the "Basic Policy on National Defense," Japan has been ever since building up a moderate defense capability on its own initiative in accordance with the fundamental principles of maintaining an exclusively defense-oriented policy throughout and of not becoming a military power that might pose a threat to other countries under the Constitution, while securing civilian control and observing the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, as well as maintaining firmly the Japan-U.S. security arrangements.

A. Exclusively Defense-Oriented Policy.

The exclusively defense-oriented policy means that defensive force is used only in the event of an attack, that the extent of use of defensive force is kept to the minimum necessary for self-defense, and that the defense capabilities to be possessed and maintained by Japan are limited to the minimum necessary for self-defense. The policy including these matters refers to the posture of a passive defense strategy in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution.

B. Not Becoming a Military Power.

There is no clear definition of the concept of a military power. On the other hand, the concept that Japan will not become a military power that might pose a threat to other countries means that Japan will not possess and maintain a military capability strong enough to pose a threat to other countries, beyond the minimum necessary for self-defense.

C. Three Non-Nuclear Principles.

The Three Non-Nuclear Principles are those of not possessing nuclear weapons, not producing them and not allowing them to be brought into Japan. Japan firmly maintains the principles as the fixed line of national policy.

In addition, provisions in the Atomic Energy Law also prohibit Japan from manufacturing and possessing nuclear weapons. Furthermore, under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Japan has an obligation, as a non-nuclear weapons state, not to manufacture and acquire nuclear weapons.

D. Securing Civilian Control.

Civilian control refers to the priority of politics to the military or democratically political control of military strength in a democratic state.

Japan has, by giving serious reflection to the regrettable state of affairs that happened until the end of World War II, adopted the system of strict civilian control entirely different from one conducted under the former Constitution, in order to ensure that the SDF should be built up and operated at the will of the people.

Specifically, the Diet, which represents the people, makes legislative and budgetary decisions on such matters as the authorized number of the SDF personnel and main organization. The defense operations of the SDF require approval of the Diet.

The function of national defense is, as a general administrative one, perfectly vested in the executive power of the Cabinet. The Constitution requires that the Prime Minister and other Ministers of State who makes up the Cabinet be civilians. The Prime Minister representing the Cabinet holds the authority of supreme command and supervision of the SDF. A civilian is appointed as the Defense Minister who exercises general management and supervision of the SDF duties. The Security Council is placed under the Cabinet as an organ of deliberation about important matters of national defense. Furthermore, the Defense Minister who manages and uses the SDF is assisted by Senior Vice-minister of Defense and two Parliamentary Secretaries for Defense in policy-making and planning.

For being a successfully workable system, it is necessary to continue to make efforts to operate it in both political and administrative aspects with a deep interest in defense taken by the people.