"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] National Defense Program Outline in and after FY 1996

[Date] November 28, 1995
[Source] DEFENSE OF JAPAN 2000, pp. 250-255.
[Full text]

I. Purpose

1. In order to preserve its independence and peace, Japan, under its Constitution, has been making efforts to secure stability in the international community through diplomatic activities including efforts to prevent and settle conflicts, to establish a sound basis for security through domestic political stability, to maintain firmly the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements and to build up appropriate defense capabilities.

2. In 1976, under those policies, Japan formulated the National Defense Program Outline (adopted by the National Defense Council and by the Cabinet on October 29, 1976, hereinafter cited as "the Outline"). The Outline was drafted on the premise that the international situation, in which efforts for stabilization were being continued, the international political structure of the surrounding regions and Japan's own domestic situation would not undergo any major changes for some time and judging that the existence of the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements would continue to play a major role in maintaining the stability of international relations. Since then, Japan has developed its defense capability according to the Outline, and the steady defense efforts, in conjunction with the existence of the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements and the efforts made to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of these arrangements, have both prevented any aggressions against Japan and contributed to the maintenance of peace and stability in the surrounding region.

3. Herein, a new set of guidelines for Japan's defense capability is laid forth, taking into consideration that almost two decades have passed since the adoption of the Outline, that during this time the international situation has undergone significant changes,including the demise of the structure of the military confrontation between East and West, led respectively by the Soviet Union and the United States, brought on by the end of the Cold War; and that expectations for the role of the Self-Defense Forces have been increased in such function as providing aid in cases of large-scale disasters and contributing to building a more stable security environment through participation in international peace cooperation activities, in addition to their principal mission of defending Japan.

4. Japan, abiding by its Constitution, following the guidelines set forth herein and paying due attention to enhancing the credibility of the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements, will strive to ensure its own national defense and contribute to the peace and stability of the international community by appropriately upgrading, maintaining and operating its capability.

II. International Situation

The following trends in the international situation were considered in the drafting of these new guidelines.

1. With the end of the Cold War, which led to the demise of the structure of military confrontation between East and West, backed by overwhelming military capabilities, the possibility of a global armed conflict has become remote in today's international community. At the same time, various unresolved territorial issues remain, and confrontations rooted in religious and ethnic differences have emerged more prominently. Complicated and diverse regional conflicts have been taking place. Furthermore, new kinds of dangers, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms and of missiles, are on the increase. Thus,unpredictability and uncertainty persist in the international community.

2. On the other hand, as interdependence among nations intensifies, efforts are underway in various areas, such as political, economic spheres to promote international cooperation and to further stabilize international relations. An emphasis has been placed on preventing destabilizing factors from escalating into serious international problems. In the area of security, continued progress is being made in arms control and disarmament, based on agreements within the United States and Russia and within Europe. Efforts are also being made toward enhancing regional security frameworks, expanding multilateral and bilateral dialogues and promoting the role of the United Nations.

Major countries are making active efforts to reorganize and streamline their military capabilities, which used to be aimed at countering large-scale aggression, and taking account of their respective strategic environments, to secure adequate capability to properly respond to regional conflicts and various other situations. These efforts constitute important factors toward the establishment of a more stable security environment, in combination with the initiatives based on international cooperation, including those launched by the United Nations. In this context, the United States, with its great power, continues to play a significant role in world peace and stability.

3. In areas surrounding regions of Japan, the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union have brought about a reduction of the military force level and changes in the military posture in Far East Russia. At the same time, there still remain large-scale military capabilities including nuclear arsenals, and many countries in the region are expanding or modernizing their military capabilities mainly against the background of their economic development. There remain uncertainty and unpredictability, such as continued tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and a stable security environment has not been fully established. Under these circumstances, the possibility of a situation in this region, which could seriously affect the security of Japan, cannot be excluded. At the same time,various activities are being pursued to deepen cooperative relations among nations and to achieve regional stability, such as promotion of bilateral dialogues and search for a regional security framework.

The close cooperative relationship between Japan and the United States, based on the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements, will help to create a stable security environment, provide the foundation for securing the engagement of the United States and the U.S. military presence, which are necessary for peace and stability in this region,and thus will continue to play a key role for the security of Japan,as well as the stability of the international community.

III. Security of Japan and Roles of Defense Capabilities

(Security of Japan and the basic defense policy)

1. Japan, under its Constitution, while promoting diplomatic efforts and establishing a sound basis for security through domestic political stability, has moderately built up its defense capability on its own initiative, in accordance with the fundamental principles of maintaining an exclusively defense-oriented policy, not becoming a military power that might pose a threat to other countries, upholding civilian control, adhering to the three non-nuclear principles,and maintaining the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements. Japan is determined to maintain those basic defense policies.

(Defense capability as it ought to be)

2. Japan has built its defense capability in accordance with the Outline, which incorporates the concept of a basic and standard defense capability, defined as possessing the minimum necessary defense capability for an independent nation so that it would not become a source of instability in the surrounding region by creating a vacuum of power rather than building a capability directly linked to a military threat to Japan. The defense capability defined in the Outline aims to possess the assorted functions required for national defense, while retaining a balanced posture in terms of organization and deployment, including logistical support. This capability was derived from relevant factors such as the strategic environment, geographical characteristics, and other aspects of Japan's position.

It is considered appropriate that Japan continue to adhere fundamentally to this concept of a basic and standard defense capability based on a recognition that various efforts for the stabilization of international relations will continue to be pursued while there remain uncertainty and unpredictability in the international situation, and that the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements continue to play a key role for the security of Japan and for the peace and stability in the surrounding region Japan.

At the same time, in terms of the defense capability which Japan should maintain, it is necessary to review the specific content so as to seek the most efficient and appropriate capability, taking into account the reduction of military force level and changes in military posture by some of Japan's neighboring countries following the end of the Cold War, as well as the diversification of situations that should be addressed from the security point of view, including the outbreak of regional conflicts and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This review needs to reflect such factors as recent advances in science and technology, a decreasing proportion of young people and increasingly severe economic and fiscal conditions.

Furthermore, while the principal mission of the Self-Defense Forces continues to be the defense of Japan, the Self-Defense Forces,taking into account changes in domestic and international circumstances and Japan's position in the international community, will also have to be prepared for various situations, such as large-scale disasters which can have a significant impact on our highly developed and diversified society and play an appropriate role in a timely manner in the Government's active efforts to establish a more stable security environment.

From this perspective, it is appropriate that Japan's defense capability be restricted, both in scale and functions by streamlining, making it more efficient and compact, as well as enhancing necessary functions and making qualitative improvements to be able to effectively respond to a variety of situations and simultaneously ensure the appropriate flexibility to smoothly deal with the development of the changing situations.

(Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements)

3. The security arrangements with the United States are indispensable to Japan's security and will also continue to play a key role in achieving peace and stability in the surrounding region of Japan and establishing a more stable security environment.

From this perspective, in order to enhance the credibility of the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements and ensure their effective implementation, it is necessary to make efforts (1) to promote exchange of information and policy consultation; (2) to establish an effective posture for cooperation in operational areas including joint studies,exercises and training, as well as enhancement of mutual support in those areas; (3) to enhance broad mutual exchange in the areas of equipment and technology; and (4) to implement various measures to facilitate smooth and effective stationing of U.S. forces in Japan.

Additionally, this close cooperative bilateral relationship based on the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements, facilitates Japanese efforts for the peace and stability of the international community, including the promotion of regional multilateral security dialogues and cooperation, as well as support for various United Nations activities.

(Role of defense capability)

4. It is necessary that the roles of Japan's defense capability be appropriately fulfilled in the respective areas described below in accordance with the aforementioned concepts.

(1) National defense

(a) Prevent aggressions against Japan together with the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements by possessing a defense capability of an appropriate scale which includes the functions required for defense consistent with Japan's geographical characteristics, taking account of the military capabilities of neighboring countries by ensuring a posture to fully utilize the capability, and by clearly showing the nation's will to defend itself.

Against the threat of nuclear weapons, rely on the U.S. nuclear deterrent, while working actively on international efforts for realistic and steady nuclear disarmament aiming at a world free from the nuclear weapons.

(b) Should indirect aggression or any unlawful military activity which might lead to aggression against this nation occur, take immediate responsive action at an early stage in order to settle the situation at a nearly stage.

Should direct aggression occur, take immediate responsive action by conducting an integrated and systematic operation of its defense capabilities, in appropriate cooperation with the United States, in order to repel such aggression at the earliest possible stage.

(2) Response to large-scale disasters and various other situations

(a) In the case of large-scale disasters, disasters caused by acts of terrorism, or other situations which require the protection of lives or assets, and, for example, upon a request for assistance from related organizations, take necessary measures in an appropriate and timely manner, including provision of disaster relief, in close cooperation with the related organizations, thereby contributing to public welfare.

(b) Should a situation arise in the areas surrounding Japan, which will have an important influence on national peace and security,take appropriate response in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws and regulations, for example, by properly supporting United Nations activities when needed, and by ensuring the smooth and effective implementation of the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements.

(3) Contribution to creation of a more stable security environment

(a) Contribute to efforts for international peace through participation in international peace cooperation activities, and contribute to the promotion of international cooperation through participation in international disaster relief activities.

(b) Continue to promote security dialogues and exchanges among defense authorities to enhance mutual confidence with countries,including neighboring countries.

(c) Cooperate with efforts of the United Nations and other international organizations in the areas of arms control and disarmament for the purpose of preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles, as well as controlling and regulating conventional weapons, including landmines.

IV. Contents of Japan's Defense Capability

As the basis for fulfilling the roles for defense capability outlined in section III, the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces will maintain structures as described in paragraph 1, and assume the postures suggested in paragraphs 2 and 3.

1. Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Force structures

(1) The Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF)

(a) The GSDF, in order to be capable of rapid and effective systematic defense operations from the outset of aggression in any part of Japan, must deploy its divisions and brigades in a balanced manner that conforms to Japan's geographical and other characteristics.

(b) The GSDF must possess at least one functional unit of each of the various types of forces used mainly for mobile operations.

(c) The GSDF must possess ground-to-air missile units capable of undertaking the air defense of divisions and other units, as well as vital areas.

(d) The GSDF, in order to maintain a high level of proficiency and to rapidly counter aggressions and other situations, must, in principle, staff its units with regular Self-Defense personnel, while,when organizing, some units may be staffed by Self-Defense Force Reserves personnel capable of being quickly mobilized.

(2) Maritime Self-Defense Forces (MSDF)

(a) The MSDF must possess one fleet escort force as a mobile operating ship unit in order to quickly respond to aggressive action and such situations at sea. The fleet escort force must be able to maintain at least one escort flotilla on alert at all times.

(b) The MSDF must possess, as ship units assigned to coastal surveillance and defense, at least one escort ship division in each specified sea district.

(c) The MSDF must maintain submarine units, patrol helicopter and minesweeping units, providing the capability for surveillance and defense missions, as well as minesweeping at important harbors and straits as necessary.

(d) The MSDF must maintain fixed-wing patrol aircraft units to provide a capability for surveillance, patrol and other operations in nearby seas.

(3) Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF)

(a) The ASDF must possess aircraft control and warning units capable of vigilance and surveillance throughout Japanese airspace on a continuous basis, as well as performing warning and control functions as necessary.

(b) The ASDF must possess fighter units and ground-to-air missile units for air defense to provide the capability of maintaining continuous alert, to take immediate and appropriate steps against violations of Japan's territorial airspace and air incursions.

(c) The ASDF must possess units capable of engaging in the interdiction of airborne or amphibious land invasions and air support for land forces as necessary.

(d) The ASDF must possess units capable of operational strategic supports including air reconnaissance, air transport and other operations as necessary.

2. Necessary postures to be maintained

In maintaining the following postures, special attention must be paid to achieving joint and integrated operations among each Self-Defense Force through enhancement of the Joint Staff Council's function and promoting integrated cooperative relationships with related organizations so that the Self-Defense Forces can quickly and effectively carry out their missions.

(1) Setup for countering aggressions or similar situations

(a) In the case of direct aggression, Japan's defense structure must be able to respond immediately in accordance with the type and scale of the aggression, and exert its capability effectively by integrating its assorted defense functions and by maintaining and enhancing the credibility of the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements through various bilateral studies, joint exercises and training.

(b) Japan's defense structure must be capable of responding immediately and taking appropriate actions should an indirect act of aggression or unlawful military action occur.

(c) Japan's defense structure must be capable of taking immediate and appropriate actions to cope with aircraft invading or threatening to invade its territorial airspace.

(2) Setup of disaster-relief operations

Japan's defense structure must be capable of taking timely and appropriate disaster relief activities in any area of Japan in response to large-scale disasters or other situations which require protection of lives and assets.

(3) Setup of international peace cooperation activities and others.

The Self-Defense Forces must be capable of participating in international peace cooperation activities and international disaster relief activities in a timely and appropriate manner to contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the international community.

(4) Setup of warning, intelligence, and command and communication

Japan's defense structure must be capable of conducting warning and surveillance on a continuous basis to detect any changes in circumstances as soon as possible, so as to utilize this information for quick decision-making. It must be capable of high-level intelligence gathering and analysis, including strategic intelligence, through possession of diversified intelligence-gathering means and mechanisms, and highly able intelligence specialists.

Additionally, it must possess a sophisticated command and communication capability and be able to quickly and effectively conduct integrated defense operations from a joint perspective.

(5) Setup of logistic support

Japan's defense structure must be capable of carrying out necessary functions in each area of logistic support, such as transportation,search and rescue, supply, maintenance and medical and sanitary affairs, so that responses to various situations can be effectively conducted.

(6) Setup of personnel affairs, and education and training

Japan's defense structure must be capable of exerting its full potential as an organization by forming an appropriate personnel structure, maintaining strict discipline, and being composed of individuals with high morale and capability and broad perspective. For training personnel, it is necessary to promote personnel exchange programs within the Self-Defense Forces, as well as with other ministries and the private sector. It must be capable of recruiting, treating, educating and training its personnel in appropriate ways, while paying attention to the smooth execution of international peace cooperation activities.

3. Maintenance of flexible defense capability

As a result of the revision of the scale and functions of Japan's defense capability, Japan's defense structure must possess adequate flexibility, so that smooth response can be made to changing situations by maintaining in education and training sections personnel and equipment which require long training or acquisition time periods and by retaining Self-Defence Force Reservists with a high level of readiness.

The specific scales of key organizations and equipment are given in the attachment.

V. Points to Note in Upgrading, Maintaining and Operating the Defense Capability

1. The following points should be noted in upgrading, maintaining and operating the defense capabilities in accordance with the outlines described in section IV, including the structure of each of the Self-Defense Forces.

Decisions on the major items in annual defense development programs will be submitted to the Security Council.

(1) The upgrading, maintenance and operation of Japan's defense capability will be conducted in harmony with other national policies, taking into account economic, fiscal and other situations. In light of the increasingly tight fiscal situation, special attention will be given to making appropriate budgetary allocations from a medium-and long-term perspective so that Japan's defense capability can smoothly and thoroughly carry out its functions as a whole.

(2) Necessary steps will be taken to promote the effective maintenance and improvement, as well as the smooth consolidation and reduction of defense facilities with the close cooperation of relevant local governments, and to facilitate further harmonization with surrounding areas.

(3) Equipment acquisition programs will be effectively implemented with overall consideration of such factors as speedy emergency resupply, easier education and requirement training, and costeffectiveness, including future obligatory expenditures accompanying the introduction of equipment, and with special attention on developing a procurement and supply mechanism which helps reduce procurement costs.

Attention will also be given to maintaining defense production and technology foundations through the appropriate promotion of domestic productions.

(4) Efforts will be made to enhance technical research and development that contributes to maintaining and improving the qualitative level of Japan's defense capability to keep up with technological advances.

2. If such an important change of situations occurs in the future that is considered necessary to reexamine Japan's defense capability, another review will be initiated based on the circumstances at that time.