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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

29 September 2015

Japanese Troops to be Sent on UN Peacekeeping Missions

The upper house of the Japanese parliament (Diet) passed a series of security bills on 19 September aimed at substantially modifying the way the country’s post-war pacifist constitution is interpreted. The vote, of 148 to 90, was pushed through by Shinzo Abe’s conservative coalition. It marks a significant break with the past that has caused both the prime minister’s popularity to plummet and outrage in China, but has been largely welcomed by Japan’s regional neighbours and allies (apart from South Korea).

The main effect is to allow Japan’s Self-Defence Forces (JSDF) to help America and its allies even if Japan is not under attack itself. Although the Diet will have to approve any deployments abroad — a concession by Mr Abe to get some smaller parties onside — it means that the long-standing bilateral security pact between America and Japan ceases to be a one-way street obliging the US to defend Japan but not the other way round. It will also make it possible for Japanese troops to be sent on UN peacekeeping missions in more forceful roles. An interesting early test could come in South Sudan, where both Japan and China contribute to the UN effort. Under the new laws, the JSDF could find itself fighting alongside Chinese soldiers should they come under attack.

Japan is raising defence spending. This year, its military budget has increased by 2% to ¥4.98 trillion ($42 billion) and next year will go up by 2% again.