Japan’s Security Policy
Japan's Security Policy

February 5, 2015

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    Proactive Contribution to Peace
    Japan's Effort for a Better Global Security Environment
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The 21st century is witnessing a rapid change in global power balance along with globalization. The security environment around Japan has become increasingly severe as represented by nuclear and missile development by North Korea. Transnational threats grounded on technological progress including international terrorism and cyber attacks are also increasing their significance.

In the current world, no nation can maintain its own peace and security alone. Japan, including its Self Defense Forces, has contributed to the maximum extent possible to the efforts to maintain and restore international peace and security, such as UN peacekeeping operations. Building on the ongoing efforts as a peaceful state, the Government of Japan has been making various efforts on its security policy which include: the establishment of the National Security Council (NSC), the adoption of the National Security Strategy (NSS), and the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG).

These efforts are made based on the belief that Japan, as a "Proactive Contributor to Peace", needs to contribute more actively to the peace and stability of the region and the international community, while coordinating with other countries including its ally, the United States.

National Security Council (NSC)

On December 4, J 2013, the National Security Council was established, with the aim of establishing a forum which will undertake strategic discussions under the Prime Minister on a regular basis and as necessary on various national security issues and exercising a strong political leadership.

National Security Strategy (NSS)

On December 17. 2013, National Security Strategy was adopted by Cabinet decision. NSS sets the basic orientation of diplomatic and defense policies related to national security. NSS presents the content of the policy of "Proactive Contribution to Peace" in a concrete manner and promotes better understanding of Japan's national security policy.

National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG)

On December 17, 2013, the National Defense Program Guidelines and the Mid-Term Defense Program based on the National Security Strategy were adopted. The Ministry of Defense published the Defense Posture Review Interim Report on July 26.

Development of Security Legislation

As the security environment around Japan is becoming increasingly severe, with the recognition that the legal basis for security should be reconsidered to enable appropriate response, the issues relating to the Constitution of Japan, including the issue of collective self-defense, have been considered by the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security, and May 2014, the Advisory Panel submitted its report.
Upon receiving the report, Prime Minister Abe presented the basic orientation for further deliberation.
Based on the basic orientation, the Government of Japan carried out the full and thorough deliberation on this matter.
As a result, on July 1, the GoJ made a cabinet decision on the basic policies on development of seamless security legislation to ensure Japan's survival and protect its people. Based on the cabinet decision, the GoJ commenced the tasks of drafting legislation that enables seamless responses to any situations in order to secure the lives and peaceful livelihood of its people and contribute even more proactively to the peace and stability of the international community.

The Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology

On April 1, the Government of Japan, in accordance with the National Security Strategy adopted on December 17, 2013, set out "the Three Principles of Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology" as a set of new principles on overseas transfer of defense equipment and technology, which replace "the Three Principles on Arms Exports and Their Related Policy Guidelines".

1. Intents of the new Principles
Surrounded by an increasingly severe security environment, it has become essential for Japan to make more proactive efforts in line with the principle of international cooperation. Japan cannot secure its own peace and security by itself, and the international community expects Japan to play a more proactive role for peace and stability in the world commensurate with its national capabilities. Against this backdrop, Japan will contribute even more proactively in securing peace, stability and prosperity of the international community, while achieving its own security as well as peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, as a "Proactive Contributor to Peace" based on the principle of international cooperation.
From the viewpoint of achieving the fundamental principle of national security by implementing concrete policies, the Government of Japan decided to review the Government's existing policy guidelines on overseas transfer of defense equipment and technology, and set out clear principles which fit the new security environment by consolidating the policy guidelines comprehensively with consideration on the past exemption measures while giving due consideration to the roles that the existing policy guidelines have played so far.
2. Main Contents of the Principles
While maintaining its basic philosophy as a peace-loving nation that conforms to the Charter of the United Nations and the course it has taken as a peace-loving nation, Japan will control the overseas transfer of defense equipment and technology based on the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology. Main contents of the Principles are as follows;
(1) Clarification of cases where transfers are prohibited (the First Principle)
Overseas transfer of defense equipment and technology will not be permitted when:
  • i) the transfer violates obligations under treaties and other international agreements that Japan has concluded,
  • ii) the transfer violates obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions, or
  • iii) the defense equipment and technology is destined for a country party to a conflict (a country against which the United Nations Security Council is taking measures to maintain or restore international peace and security in the event of an armed attack).
(2) Limitation to cases where transfers may be permitted as well as strict examination and information disclosure (the Second Principle)
In cases not within (1) above, cases where transfers may be permitted will be limited to the following cases. Those cases will be examined strictly while ensuring transparency.
The transfer contributes
  • i) to active promotion of peace contribution and international cooperation, or
  • ii) Japan's security.
Significant cases that require especially careful consideration from the viewpoint of Japan's security will be examined at the National Security Council (NSC). As for the cases that were deliberated at the NSC, the Government will disclose their information in accordance with the Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs (Law No. 42 of 1999).
(3) Ensuring appropriate control regarding extra-purpose use or transfer to third parties (the Third Principle)
In cases satisfying (2) above, overseas transfer of defense equipment and technology will be permitted only in cases where appropriate control is ensured. More concretely, the Government will in principle oblige the Government of the recipient country to gain its prior consent regarding extra-purpose use and transfer to third parties.
The Government of Japan will contribute even more actively to the peace and stability of the international community as a "Proactive Contributor to Peace" based on the principle of international cooperation. Under such a policy, it will play a proactive role in the area of controlling defense equipment and technology as well as sensitive dual-use goods and technologies to achieve the early entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and further strengthen the international export control regimes.