Japan should revise Article 9 of its Constitution to develop offensive military capabilities.


Article 9 and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. This article explains Article 9, the history of Japan’s pacifism and the US role in Japan’s defense.

The U.S.-Japan Alliance and Its 21st Century Security Challenges. This is a good overview of the history of Japanese militarism, the security problems facing Japan and political difficulties of amending Article 9.

Rearming A Forbidden Military: Japan’s Self-Defense Force & Constitutional Revisions This article addresses some of the practical issues related to Article 9 repeal

Why does Japan have a limited military? This is another brief history of Japanese militarism and defense policy.

The rise of Japanese militarism. This article is similar to the previous article.

Japan’s military, among world’s strongest, looks to build This article describes Japan’s recent initiative sot substantially expand its defense forces under a “watered down” Article 9.

Background — Offensive/Defensive This article discusses the difficulties of distinguishing between offensive and defensive weapons.

How Strong Are the Ropes That Bind the Japanese Military?


Policy Roundtable: The Future of Japanese Security and Defense

Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi takes on the clearest change in capability by stressing the Japanese need for airpower as a vital part of its naval strategy. While Japan is acquiring a large number of F-35Bs and the flat-top ships to deploy them, Hinata-Yamaguchi argues that this material acquisition is outpacing the doctrinal development needed for its operation. Moreover, the amount of resources Japan is willing to spend may create an expensive force unable to have much strategic effect given the large bureaucratic and operational hurdles fielding a credible naval aviation component would require. He advocates sufficient development for both sea control and denial missions but acknowledges that this will not come cheap.

Complementing Hinata-Yamaguchi, Benjamin Schreer assesses the other major ongoing capability development: Japan’s expensive effort to build up its amphibious capability. While noting the several roles a modest amphibious arm can play in day-to-day and humanitarian operations, Schreer does not believe a capable force deployed on big-deck ships to be worth the cost. He points out that the U.S. Marine Corps — with its eye towards the Pacific theater — is forgoing amphibious assault as its core mission and wonders why the JSDF is shifting towards it. He concludes that a special operations capability may provide the most bang for the amphibious buck.

Masashi Murano makes the case for an offensive strike missile capability that could selectively reach the Chinese mainland to deter by denial rather than punishment. As with the previous two pieces, Murano identifies another ongoing Japanese acquisition effort that is both too small to be effective as planned and lacks any concept of operations. Murano attempts to distill a philosophy for the employment of an offensive missile capability by systematically going through its possible uses. He concludes by advocating a new class of larger warheads necessarily carried by ballistic, possibly hypersonic, missiles designed to “mission kill” a sufficient chunk of the Chinese air force and navy to deter by denial Chinese adventurism. Like so many of these other capabilities, however, the price may make such a capability impossible.

Finally, Saadia M. Pekkanen addresses the considerable but not widely recognized Japanese capability in space, arguing for Japan to drop the pretense and build credible anti-satellite weapons. She makes a plausible if controversial argument that this might be the least escalatory of the four proposed changes, even as it has a potentially massive impact on the strategic balance in the region by holding much of China’s reconnaissance strike complex at risk.

Myths and Realities of Japan’s Security Policy.  This article discusses some of the major issues in Japan’s security policy.

Is Japan’s interest in strike capabilities a good idea? This article doesn’t reach a conclusion but it discusses some of the things Japan needs to consider when deciding to adopt offensive capabilities.

General — Offense/Defense

The Future of Japan’s Defense Is More Complicated than It Looks,” This article does a good job of unpacking the difficulty of distinguishing between offensive and defensive weapons.

Is Japan’s defense policy taking an offensive turn? This article argues it is hard to distinguish between offensive and defensive crypto.

Japan ’s Defense Readiness: Prospects and Issues in Operationalizing Air and Maritime Supremacy “Regardless of whether the Japanese constitution is revised, the JSDF’s essentially defensive orientation toward ensuring Japan’s security will remain unchanged. Developments to date have not altered Japan’s defense-oriented posture, and certainly have not revived the militaristic policies of the imperial years. Rather, recent improvements have focused on smoothing the operation of the mechanism that allows Japan to exercise the necessary capabilities for self-defense within the nation’s strategic, political, and legal frameworks. Moreover, the developments further confirm that the JSDF is strong when measured within a context of close coordination with the United States and other like-minded states.”

Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power (Book, 2019)

General — R&D

SPECIAL REPORT: U.S., Japan Set to Enhance Cooperation on Military R&D. This article just discusses some military R&D initiatives between the US and Japan;. It’s not especially relevant to the topic, but it coudl become relevant (spending trade-off?) so I’ve kept it in the list.

General — Status Quo Military Development

EDITORIAL: Japan becomes the world’s fourth-most powerful military. The article just explains how Japan has become on of the world’s largest military powers.

Japan increases protection for US military amid ‘severe security environment’. This article explains how Japan has modernized its military in cooperation with the US.

Japan’s military, among world’s strongest, looks to build. This is the same as the two previous articles.

General — Defense Policy

Key challenges in Japan’s defense policy. This is an in-depth look at Japan’s defense policy. This is more useful to read after you’ve read the other articles and you can contextualize potential uses of the materiasl.

Pro — General

Extended Deterrence and Strategic Stability in Northeast Asia,” NBrad Roberts has analyzed how the United States and Japan can avoid a “security deficit” in the region.6 He briefly outlines the new threat that long-range missiles from the DPRK pose to Japan, discusses the risks of the United States not upholding alliance commitments, and explains the stability-instability paradox vis-à-vis China. Roberts argues that to maintain credible deterrence in Asia, the United States and its allies must demonstrate collective resolve against threats and work on deterring conventional provocations.7 He suggests that Japanese strike capabilities would strengthen deterrence, especially in “grey zone conflicts.”8 Moreover, he proposes that Japan’s acquisition of ballistic missiles might aid the United States in achieving a conventional prompt global strike capability. Roberts briefly mentions possible Chinese reactions but prioritizes maintaining the credibility of the U.S. nuclear umbrella and “strategic stability” in the region.

Japan needs long-range strike capabilities.

Japan’s hard choices. Most of this article is not useless but there is good evidence about how missile threats to Japan are increasing.

Pro — China Deterrence

U.S.-Imposed Article 9 of the Constitution Threatens the Lives of Japanese People. Article 9 revision is needed to deter China.

Panel: Japan Needs More Offensive Firepower to Counter Chinese Ambitions. The title is self-explanatory.

Japan Leader Calls for Greater Military Capability, Spending. Preemptive strike weapons are needed to deter Japan and North Korea.

Japanese Strike Capabilities: Security Advantages for U.S. Alliance, Challenges to Overcome. This article argues for the development of advanced strike capabilities, though it contends that some of that development can occur within the existing constitution.

Japan should develop strike capabilities to augment its defense. This article makes the same argument as the previous article, though it is shorter.

Why Japan must radically speed up its defense build up. This is a general article about the need for Japan to increase its defense spending; it is not specific to developing offensive military capabilities.

“Smaller Area of Defense Was Key Factor in Halting Aegis Ashore Deployment in Japan,” Japan News, June 20, 2020, previously cited in Bruce Klingner, “Japan Undercuts Its Defense Against North Korean Missiles,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 5093, July 22, 2020, https://www.heritage​.org/sites/default/files/2020-07/IB5093.pdf.

Pro — China

Japan must disavow pacificism for collective defense. This article claims that Japan needs to substantially strengthen its military capabilities to deter China.

Japan strengthens defense powers to counter Chinese aggression This article argues that China is generally a threat to Japan.

Japan surges new weapons, military roles to meet the China challenge. The article generally discusses the threat from China to Japan and does claim that amending Article 9 requires political capital.

Pro — Russia

Japan Again Raises Concern Over 10 Warship Russian Navy Surface Group

Con — General

Japan’s uncertain future in an insecure Asia. This article argues that Article 9 revisions would upset the East Asian security environment and risk war.  It argues that Japan’s military advancement should occur within the constraints of the US-Japan alliance.

Japan’s quiet rearmament . This article argues that an overt renunciation of Article 9 risks regional conflict because of Japan’s history in Asia.

No, Japan should not remiitarize . This article discusses the historical dangers of Japanese militarism and argues that a rejection of limiting military activities to self-defense will trigger a war.

Japan and the militarization of East Asia This article argues that Japan is slowly expanding its defense capabilities but that an explicit Article 9 revision risks war with China.

The Asian-Pacific arms race has taken on an ominous turn. This article does make the claim that Japanese militarism will cause an arms race with China, but there are many non-uniqueness cards.

Should Japan adopt conventional missile strike capabilities? With North Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities and China’s increasing military assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific, the issue of Japan’s right to defend itself via a conventional first-strike capability has regained salience in the security discourse. High-level interviews and in-depth analysis, however, show that the main three arguments for Japan to seek an offensive strike capability are not justifiable in the current political and economic environments. First, developing a conventional missile strike capability is not a practical solution for Tokyo to abate the North Korean threat, and the move could be perceived by Beijing and Seoul as aiding a U.S. strategy of containment. Second, the current political restrictions on the Japanese defense budget would not practically allow the buildup of the military capability required for a conventional missile strike force, and this restriction cannot be changed without support from a military-wary public. Finally, though the U.S.-Japan alliance may be unbalanced in terms of capabilities, the U.S. should consider its broader interests in regional stability. A strike-capable Japan may not only escalate tension in an already tense relationship with China, it also could elicit a harsh response against Tokyo and Washington. This could challenge the credibility of the U.S. “nuclear umbrella,” potentially leading to increased militarization throughout Asia.

Japan: pressure from populist right to scrap ‘peace constitution’ after 75 years nternationally, it will send alarm bells ringing across the Asia-Pacific. Any indication that Japan might revise its constitution is likely to spark angry reactions from Japan’s former colonies and victims of militarist wartime aggression.

Con — Status Quo Solves

Japan is becoming a military powerhouse again Japan can retain a defensive orientation and still be strong.

Amending Japan’s pacifist constitution . The article explains that Japan is modernizing its military but that repealing Article 9 could cause a conflict in Asia.

Con — Taiwan

Japan’s New Security Posture and Its Implications for Taiwan This article discusses current efforts to improve security in Southwest Japan and challenge China.

Con — Militarism

Japan looks to end the ‘shame’ of pacifism law.. This article argues that constitutional revision will produce a war in Asia.

Con — China Answers

Why China cannot challenge US global military supremacy. This article has a lot of arguments as to why China cannot challenge US military dominance.

Water Wars: Japan Focused on Defense Expansion, while U.S. Makes a Soft-Power Push. This article describes current efforts by the US and Japan to counter China.

Prolif — General

Japan: A nuclear state?.This article discusses the importance of the alliance in preventing Japan’s nuclearization.


Everyday perspective on security and insecurity in Japan