Japan's New Defence Guidelines: An Analysis

Shamshad Ahmed Khan was Research Assistant at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here to for detailed profile
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  • May 2011

    During the entire post-World War II period Japan isolated itself from the ongoing power struggle. Even during the height of the Cold War when its two neighbours – the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China – went nuclear, Japan followed the three principles of ‘not possessing’, ‘not introducing’ and ‘not manufacturing’ nuclear weapons. Successive Japanese parliaments also passed resolutions putting a one per cent GDP cap on defence spending and imposed a blanket ban on arms exports and arms-related technologies. Japan followed self-restraining normative principles in its defence policy. However, in the post-Cold War period, it is slowly but steadily diluting those principles. The recent National Defence Policy Guidelines (NDPG), approved by the Japanese government, clearly suggest that its defence policy is no longer immune to the geo-strategic dynamics of the region. The NDPG is a guidepost to the country's defence policy for the next 10 years.