The gusto with which Japan has embraced rearmament has surprised its allies and international partners.

Last month, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida unveiled detailed plans to double defense spending over the next five years, leaving no doubt about the country’s determination to expand its military capabilities to deter China’s expansionist ambitions.

Japan’s new strategic vision represents the culmination of a long-term shift that began under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated last July. During Abe’s tenure, which lasted from his return to power in December 2012 until his resignation in September 2020, Japan revamped its military doctrine and significantly increased defense expenditure.