Japan’s Military Role in the Indo-Pacific

Changing Japanese Defense Policies. besacenter.org

THE DIPLOMAT – By Mercy A. Kuo August 12, 2021

The Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Robert Ward, Japan chair and director of Geo-economics and Strategy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, is the 282nd in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Identify any significant shifts in Japan’s defense policy based on its 2021 annual white paper.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (JMOD)’s 2021 annual white paper was notable for four main reasons. First was the mention of the importance of stability in the Taiwan Strait and the link with Japan’s own security. This was the first such mention in a JMOD white paper. Second was the focus on U.S.-China relations, a clear marker by JMOD that U.S.-China strategic competition is now a key framer for Japanese defense policy.

Third was the highlighting of Japan’s widening security partnerships beyond its immediate region and beyond the U.S., including Canada, France, and the U.K. Fourth was JMOD’s increased focus on the need to bolster Japan’s research and development (R&D) in advanced technologies. In the 2021 English digest of the white paper “research” was mentioned 17 times, compared with just twice in 2020.



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