How Abe is losing the narrative on Japan’s new security laws

A demonstrator holds a sign against the new legislation that would allow the military to deploy overseas, in Tokyo outside of Japan's parliament against new legislation on September 23, 2015 (Photo: AAP)

Author: Stephen Nagy, ICU Tokyo

Japan’s new security laws, which were passed on 19 September and allow for limited forms of collective self-defence, have been described as a ‘move away from pacifism’, the opening of a ‘Pandora’s box’ and the ‘unsheathing of a new Japanese sword’. But considering the bill’s extreme limitations and significant domestic constraints — including a greying and shrinking population, mounting domestic debt and deeply embedded pacifist norms — one wonders how and why this narrative has taken root so deeply.

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What’s displacing Air Sea Battle in US military planning?

Russian President Valdimir Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry talk to each other after negotiations of Russian and US leaders at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, USA, 28 September 2015. Russia is changing the security landscape and US defence planners are adapting. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Greg Raymond, ANU

In a slow moving transition underway since late 2014, there are strong signs that the often-criticised US Air Sea Battle operational concept is being quietly — albeit not officially — sidelined as a focus of US military strategy. The likelihood is that a new program, the so-called Third Offset Strategy, is displacing it. This suggests that since the unsettling return of 19th century-style territorial annexation to 21st century Europe, Russia is looming as a serious threat in the minds of US defence planners — possibly even more than China. Read more…

Building on Japan’s National Security Council

Japan's Self-Defence Forces conduct a drill about 100 kilometres west of Tokyo. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Taylor M. Wettach, Georgetown University

Since his return to office in December 2012, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government have responded to an increasingly severe security environment through a number of national security reforms. While this agenda did not begin with the Abe government — rather, it builds on a history of solidifying central decision-making though administrative reforms — associated developments have seen Japan receive a new wave of international media attention. Read more…

International cooperation needed to fight jihadism in the Maldives

This picture taken 17 August 2007 shows the wooden entrance leading to the Coco Palm resort on the Boduhithi Island, Maldives (Photo: AAP)

Author: Iromi Dharmawardhane, RSIS

Jihadist activity and Islamic radicalism have been visibly growing in the past decade in the Maldives, traditionally a religiously-relaxed Muslim country. The Maldives experienced a terrorist attack in 2007, which wounded 12 foreigners, just prior to the inauguration of President Mohamed Nasheed. During Nasheed’s time in office there was a huge increase in violent extremism and a spread of radical ideology among the population. Read more…

Should the US patrol around China’s artificial islands?


Author: Andrew Chubb, UWA

The US defence establishment’s provocative plan to assert freedom of navigation by patrolling near China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea appears to have stalled. But if the United States abandons the policy it will forego an important opportunity to help stabilise Asia’s contested waters. Read more…

Abe bites the security bullet

People hold placards to protest against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's controversial security bills near the National Diet in Tokyo on 19 September 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

As the Japanese Diet moved to secure passage of the Abe government’s new security bills early Saturday morning, disquiet about what this might mean for Japan’s place in the world appears to continue unabated among the Japanese people. Abe’s legislative success has not been matched by an ability to persuade the majority of the electorate to get behind the new laws. Read more…

Abe’s new security legislation doubles-down on the US alliance

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waits for a vote of opposition-submitted no-confidence motion against his cabinet at the lower house of the parliament in Tokyo, 18 September 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

In the wee hours of the morning yesterday, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)–Komeito coalition muscled a suite of security-related bills through the upper house of the Diet. The bills, now certain to become law, fundamentally re-draw the legal parameters of security cooperation in which the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) may now engage. Read more…