From North Korea’s nuclear/missile programs to China’s rapidly expanding military and a possible “gray-zone” crisis in the East China Sea, Japan faces a rapidly changing and increasingly threatening regional security environment. To address these challenges, since 2012 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has accelerated efforts to “normalize” Japan’s defense planning and capabilities, reinterpret/revise Japan’s 1947 “Peace Constitution” to loosen constraints on its Self-defense Forces, and significantly strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance. This talk will examine the drivers of recent changes to Japan’s national security policy and evaluate their significance for its defense posture, regional peace and stability, and the U.S.-Japan alliance.
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