Japan has been engaged in the steady — some would say “relentless” — modernization of its national security policies and processes for over a decade.

For the most part, this evolution has focused on the framing of the challenges the country faces in an increasingly dangerous world. The seminal moment in this transformation, what some call “a historic shift,” was the December 2022 publication of three documents — the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy and the Defense Buildup Program — that outlined how the Tokyo saw the world and the steps it would take to respond to this threat environment.

Now, the government must turn that vision into reality. This promises to be even more difficult than articulation of the new strategy since it requires restructuring the defense bureaucracy, imperiling vested interests, compounding fiscal concerns, intensifying competition for funds and, ultimately, making real heretofore abstract concerns about Japan’s assumption of a more prominent regional and global security role.