Six years ago this month, the Japanese Diet started deliberations on the 2015 peace and security legislation. This legislation package contained one new law and an omnibus bill that included revisions to 20 existing security-related laws. At the time, critics argued that the legislation would fundamentally alter Japan’s approach to security, and it is worth reflecting on whether or not that proved true.

Certainly, the laws expanded Japan’s security authorities and widened the aperture for the type of cooperation in which the Self-Defense Force can engage with foreign partners. Slowly but surely, Japan is exploring those opportunities with countries like the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and France. Still, the laws did not shift the manner in which Japan employs its security authorities; rather, they reinforced the country’s long-standing “positive list” approach to its security practice.

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