After last week’s decision to suspend deployment of Aegis Ashore missile defense systems — which is looking more like cancellation each day — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Japan needs to discuss ways to strengthen its deterrence.
What he means — or more precisely, what he wants — is not yet clear, but he is right to call for a conversation on ways to strengthen Japan’s national defense. The security environment continues to evolve and Japan must think creatively about how it can address new threats and challenges.
Japanese security planning occurs within two inter-related frames: the domestic political context and the alliance with the United States. In the first, Japanese decision-making is constrained by Article 9 of the Constitution and an understanding that defense spending will not exceed 1 percent of GDP.