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date: 16 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes the law in Japan governing the country’s use of military force and participation in multinational peacekeeping operations. Although Article 9 of Japan’s post–World War II constitution seems to disallow the development of armed forces, the country has long maintained limited armed forces for purposes of self-defense. According to the Japanese government’s traditional constitutional interpretation, these forces can only be used when necessary to repel an armed attack on Japan. Under this interpretation, Japan can use armed force only for individual self-defense, not for collective self-defense or collective security. In addition, although Japanese law since the 1990s has allowed for some participation of Japanese forces in multinational peacekeeping operations, this allowance has been very limited. In 2015, however, Japan enacted two important statutes that broaden the government’s ability to use the country’s armed forces. One statute allows the country for the first time to exercise a right of collective self-defense, although the legislation only permits Japan to exercise this right for the purpose of ensuring its survival and protecting its people in situations that are called “existential crisis situations.” The other statute broadens the ability of Japanese forces to engage in various support activities in multinational peacekeeping operations. Because of Article 9 of the Constitution, however, Japan’s ability to use its military is still substantially more limited than for many other countries.

Keywords: Japan, Japan’s Constitution, use of force, individual self-defense, collective self-defense, collective security, Self-Defense Forces, peacekeeping operations

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