Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s march to reform the war-renouncing Japanese Constitution is still mired in a slog of domestic political resistance. But, as has generally been the case since the Japan Self-Defense Forces were reconstituted in 1954, Tokyo isn’t waiting for public concern to align neatly with its strategic interests. Rather, it is pushing forward with plans to arm itself with equipment and systems that can address Japan’s core geopolitical vulnerabilities – and further its ability to flex its muscles far from its shores.
Next week, Abe’s Cabinet is expected to approve a pair of documents laying out defense priorities for the next decade. Drafts of the plans leaked this week, and highlights illustrate just how far Tokyo is stretching the limits of what has been acceptable under its pacifist constitution, which has banned purely offensive weapons such as aircraft carriers, long-range bombers and ballistic missiles. The new guidelines are expected to formal