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Japan lines up defence policy review

Janes Defence Budgets forecasts limited growth in Japan's military expenditure over the coming few years. (Janes Defence Budgets)

Japan's Ministry of Defense (MoD) has outlined to Janes a requirement to review the country's core defence policies in response to accelerating tensions in the Indo-Pacific.

The assessment of the existing National Security Strategy (NSS), and its linked National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and Medium Term Defense Program (MTDP), is now expected to become a priority of Japan's incoming prime minister.

The incumbent, Yoshihide Suga, abruptly resigned earlier this month. His replacement will be decided through a contest on 29 September to determine the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

A spokesperson for the MoD told Janes on 17 September that a schedule for the review of the NSS, NDPG, and MTDP has not been decided. However, the spokesperson indicated that Suga had earlier pushed for an evaluation of the three policies to “reflect the needs of the times”.

Japan's first NSS was approved by the country's cabinet in December 2013. The existing NDPG and MTDP plans, which are both based on the NSS, were launched in December 2018. The NDPG outlines the policy for “2019 and beyond” while the MTDP runs from 2019 to 2023.

The MoD spokesperson said, “It has been about seven-and-a-half years since Japan's first National Security Strategy was formulated. Since that time, the security environment and technological trends in East Asia have changed significantly.”

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