Japan Military

Japan is a country located in the Eastern region of Asia. With a population of over 126 million people, it is the tenth most populous country in the world. Japan is a constitutional monarchy and its military consists of three branches: the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), Japan Coast Guard (JCG) and National Reserve Corps (NRC). The JSDF are responsible for defending the country’s borders and sovereignty, as well as providing security to its citizens. In terms of defense spending, Japan spends approximately $47 billion annually on its military making it one of the highest defense spending nations in Asia. The country also participates in several United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions such as those in Lebanon and Syria. Japan is also a member of both NATO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and has close ties with other ASEAN members such as South Korea and China. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Japan.


The defense is based on bilateral cooperation with the United States in accordance with the 1951 Defense Pact, renegotiated in 1960. North Korean over-flight in 1996 with missiles through Japanese airspace, laws have been passed that have resulted in increased ability to withstand both foreign military attack and terrorist attacks. An in-house satellite monitoring system is in operation. During the 1991 US-sanctioned war against Iraq, an operation of combat forces outside Japanese territory was discussed. In the aftermath of the war, four minesweepers were deployed. See 3rjewelry.com for Japan travel guide.

In April 1996, a bilateral agreement was reached at the state level to support Japan’s US military commitments in Iraq and the surrounding area. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that JPN stands for Japan. However, Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prohibits active participation. In 2003, a decision was made to join 1,000 people in Iraq during the postwar period. This more outward defense policy was aborted in 2008 with a return to the focus on self-defense based on existing agreements and an opening towards China.

Japan Army

The defense, the self-defense forces, comprises (2009) 240,000 men recruited with 42,000 men in reserve and is undergoing significant modernization with support from the country’s own weapons industry. Costs have for a long time been about 1% of GDP (0.93% in 2007).

The defense is organized in an army of 148,000 men with nine divisions as well as an airborne brigade. The Navy comprises 44,000 men with 16 submarines, 52 fighters/ frigates, nine patrol boats, five landing craft and a naval aircraft with 80 fighter planes and 91 combat helicopters. The material is of Western, American and native origin.

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The Air Force comprises 45,500 men with 270 fighter aircraft and 30 larger transport aircraft. Semi-military security forces amount to 12,000 men. The Navy has 3,700 men, about 20 combat ships and two war bases.

In Japanese territory, the United States has significant combat forces, a total of 33,000 men, of which 2,500 men are Army units, 14,500 men from the Navy, 12,500 men from the Air Force with about 40 fighter aircraft.

Japan participates in UN peacekeeping operations in Kuwait, the Middle East (UNDOF) and Nepal (UNMIN) to a limited extent.

Japan’s military forces are called self-defense forces. Article 9 of the Constitution lays down a doctrine that the Japanese people should for all time abstain from war and military power or threats in international conflicts. The 2012 defense reform recognizes this, but at the same time emphasizes that Japan has the right to strike back if the country is attacked by a foreign power, and the modernization of the Japanese defense forces has given them a more offensive role in recent years.

In 1960, Japan signed a mutual security agreement with the US, which has bases in the country and maintains a strength of 53,900 personnel (2018). A law amendment in 1992 allowed Japanese troops to participate in UN peacekeeping operations.

The military service is voluntary for both men and women from the age of 18. The total force figures for Japan’s armed forces are 247,150 active personnel, with a reserve of 56,000 personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, there are 14,000 personnel in the semi-military coastguard.


The army has a workforce of 150,850 active personnel. Heavy equipment includes 667 tanks (250 type 74, 341 type 90, and 76 type 10), 68 storm tanks and 795 armored personnel vehicles. In addition, the Army has 419 helicopters, of which 70 are combat helicopters (59 Cobra and 11 Apache), and nine light transport aircraft.

Air Force

The Air Force has a workforce of 46,950 active personnel. Materials include 189 fighters of a F-15 Eagle, 148 combat aircraft (88 F-2, 51 Phantom II and nine F-35 Lightning II), three EK-fly, 13 AEW & C-plane of a E-2 Hawkeye, four AWACS aircraft, 17 reconnaissance aircraft, six tankers, 26 rescue aircraft, 59 transport aircraft, 246 training aircraft (of which 197 T-4 can also be used as light fighter aircraft), 15 heavy transport helicopters, and 35 rescue helicopters.

The Navy

The Navy has a workforce of 45,350 active personnel. The fleet includes 20 tactical submarines, four helicopter aircraft, three amphibious warships, two cruisers, 33 fighters, 10 frigates, six patrol vessels, 27 minesweepers, eight landings, and 21 logistics and auxiliary vessels. The Navy’s aircraft include 78 patrol aircraft (62 P-3 Orion and 16 P-1), five rescue aircraft, 27 transport aircraft, and 130 helicopters.


The Coast Guard has a workforce of 14,000 active personnel, 367 patrol vessels, 16 auxiliary vessels, 31 aircraft and 52 helicopters.

International operations

Japan had two naval vessels in the Gulf of Aden in 2018, and 170 personnel and two patrol aircraft in Djibouti. Japan also participated in the UN operation in South Sudan (UNMISS) with four personnel.

Japan’s foreign policy

Japan’s foreign policy is characterized by relations with the United States after World War II. Japan was among the losers of the war and was occupied by the United States in the years 1945–1952. During this period, Japan was not allowed to pursue its own foreign policy. Japan was imposed a pacifist constitution in 1947; Re-arming was prohibited. The United States’ attitude to Japan changed with the Communist takeover of China in 1949 and the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. In 1951, a peace treaty was signed in which Japan renounced all possessions and demands in China, and in 1952 Japan regained full sovereignty.

After World War II, Japan maintained a low foreign policy profile despite the country’s growing economic strength, and was in many ways a supporter of the United States. After the end of the Cold War, Tokyo has become more active in its foreign policy, especially in Asia.

Other key countries for Japan’s foreign policy are China, North Korea and Russia.

Relationship with the United States

General Douglas MacArthur signs Japan’s World War II capitulation on behalf of the Allies aboard the USS Missouri in the Gulf of Tokyo on September 2, 1945. Behind him is Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright (left) and British Lieutenant Arthur Percival.

This was the beginning of the American occupation of Japan. Mac Arthur was then occupation manager in Japan until 1950.

The 1951 Japanese-American Security Pact, revised in 1960 and 1996, has been a cornerstone of the Tokyo-Washington relationship. It is not a common military alliance in the usual sense, but gives the United States the right to base on Japanese territory; yet in 2014, more than 49,000 US soldiers were stationed on the Japanese islands, most on Okinawa. Otherwise, the security pact has been disputed in Japan, and trends in the upheaval have provoked strong negative reactions from neighboring countries.

The 1996 Hashimoto – Clinton Summit reaffirmed the Defense Alliance. Japan, according to American wishes, assumed an expanded defense policy role, including regionally. With its pacifist constitution, since the 1950s, Japan has considered itself prevented from participating in peacekeeping operations with armed forces. Law amendments following the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001 have enabled a more active role. A constitutional revision has also covered the disputed Article 9, where Japan waives its right to resolve international conflicts through the use of threats or military force.

Trade policy imbalance has since the mid-1980s led to Japan-US relations. In the early 1990s, Japan’s trade surplus set a record high. The peak was reached in 1993 with a current trade surplus of $ 131.3 billion; this triggered massive international criticism and demands for expanded market access. The United States threatened several times with penalties, and Japan imposed so-called voluntary export restrictions. Trade surplus dropped significantly from the mid-1990s, as a result of Japan importing more and adding much of its industrial production abroad.

Relationship with China

Following Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, a rapid approach to China occurred, stimulated by China’s rapid evolution towards market economy. Japan became the largest trading partner of the People’s Republic of China, and a significant part of the country’s process industry was relocated to China in particular in the 1990s. In 1998, President Jiang Zemin made the first Chinese state visit to Japan. The meeting was not a success, as the two countries’ top leaders did not agree with the view of the war between China and Japan (1931-1945). Japanese troops’ conduct during the war is still a sore point. Proposals to give Japan a permanent seat on the UN Security Council have repeatedly been met with threats of Chinese veto. However, the proposal has received Norway’s support. Japan has in recent years focused on strengthening its position within the UN system, and had one of the five rotational positions in the UN Security Council in 2009-2010.

Relations with China were again somewhat strained during Koizumi, especially as he visited the disputed Yasukuni Temple, which is dedicated to Japan’s fallen, several times as head of government. The relationship has since improved. First visit of a Japanese naval vessel to a Chinese port since 1945 took place in June 2008: Destroyer Sazanmi anchored in Zhanjiang with emergency supplies for victims following the Sichuan earthquake. The same month, the two countries reached an agreement on joint extraction of a disputed gas field in the East China Sea. There has long been controversy and debate over the sharing of economic zone in the East China Sea, including the disputed Senkaku Islands (Diaoyutai in Chinese).

Relations with North Korea

The most important foreign policy case for Japan is North Korea. The threat from North Korea’s nuclear and rocket programs has prompted Japan and the United States to discuss establishing a rocket shield over the Japanese islands. Japan has responded very sharply to North Korean rocket and nuclear tests. There has been intensified debate in Japan about strengthening the defense in light of a broader regional armament. The many abductions of Japanese citizens to North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s have long created sparks between the two countries. Pyongyang said in 2008 he was willing to conduct further investigations into the case, after first admitting that North Korean agents abducted 13 Japanese citizens. Five of them, reportedly the only survivors, were allowed to visit Japan in 2002, but without bringing their families. Japan claims that at least 37 Japanese were abducted to North Korea and that some may still be alive. North Korea’s lack of cooperation in this matter has long been an obstacle to normalizing the relationship.

Relations with Russia

Attempts to conclude a peace agreement with the Soviet Union/Russia have been stranded time and time again due to the dispute over the right to rule over four islands (Shikotan, Kunashiri, Etorofu and Habomai) north of Hokkaido. Both countries claim the archipelago that the Russians call the South Kurils and the Japanese Northern Territories, which was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945. In February 2009, Prime Minister Aso and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met on the island of Sakhalin, without coming closer to a solution.

Development Assistance

In the period 1991–2002, Japan was the world’s largest aid donor, with annual contributions of about $ 10 billion, and the second largest contributor to the UN system with a fifth of the UN budget. Critics, however, argue that Japan’s aid policy is guided more by consideration of Japanese interests than recipients’ needs. Since 2002, Japan’s assistance has been the second largest nominal, accounting for just over 0.2 percent of the country’s GDP.