Japan isn’t legally allowed to have a military, but Japan has a military.
Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan bans war as a means of settling international disputes and outlaws the maintenance of a military. However, last October, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wanted to amend Article 9 to explicitly allow the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to exist. The amendment debate has long plagued the Diet and civic discourses: this July, Abe called for the Diet to discuss constitutional amendments, a prominent policy issue for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), of which he is president. This was for the House of Councillors election later that month. The LDP and its allies failed to maintain a two-thirds majority in the Upper House, so Abe can’t introduce a referendum to revise the postwar constitution, to the chagrin of nationalists in legislative chambers, internet threads and uyoku dantai (ultranationalist far-right) groups.
What’s more, a recent Kyodo news survey showed that the majority of people in Japan oppose revision. So although chances of an amendment are slim, Abe might be right about one thing — he argues that JSDF is already so active that a constitutional amendment wouldn’t really change anything.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
Rewind to 1950: the Korean War is underway, Americans are occupying Japan and they’re scared of Chinese and Soviet communist forces in Korea. Occupation forces and the Japanese government revise the postwar constitution to allow self-defensive military action, establishing the JSDF. Under a new security treaty between the U.S. and Japan, the latter pursues partial rearmament. Japan’s armed forces technically haven’t lifted a finger in aggression ever since, but they still exist, and with vigor.
After the Cold War, Japan, whose military capacity extended to self-defense only, ceased to be a part of the U.S. anti-Soviet strategy. During the 1991 Persian Gulf crisis, the country was criticized for contributing money rather than troops; the “Gulf shock” produced a sense of failure among Japanese lawmakers, and led to the International Peace Cooperation Law of 1992, which allowed the SDF to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations in “noncombat” areas. North Korean missile testing and the sarin gas attacks also contributed to increased military capacity — more peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction operations, greater missile defense and disaster relief capabilities. In fact, disaster relief efforts after the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995 and the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 won praise from a pacifist public previously hostile to the military.
JSDF and U.S. Marines ship to Shore Earthquake Relief
The SDF readily respond to natural disasters in Japan and abroad and participate in overseas missions. Considering China’s island-building effort in disputed waters, North Korea’s nuclear appetites (and missile launches) and the massive American military presence in Japan, maintaining an army makes sense. Consider its recent undertakings: sending a submarine and destroyer to the South China Sea, a joint operations plan with the U.S. to defend the Senkakus/Diaoyus, expanding SDF units and facilities in the southwest islands.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen reviews Japanese Self Defense Force troops [photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley]
Still, the Japanese military aren’t allowed to be solitary aggressors. Not only do the SDF worship international law, but they abstain from using offensive weapons like long-range ballistic missiles, bombers and aircraft carriers. Manpower is pretty limited. When they do exercise military power, it’s defensive and bilateral (in cooperation with the U.S.). Regardless, as Japan enters the Reiwa era, the country seeks to be a leader in international security and its military presence today continues to be shaped by its history.
armyConstitution of JapanJapanese Self-Defense Forcesmilitarythe DietUS
How many army does Japan have? ›
What is the status of Japan's military forces? Japan's SDF currently has more than 240,000 personnel—all technically civilians, in accordance with the 1954 law establishing the SDF. Its annual budget is nearly $50 billion, divided among land, sea, and air forces.Does Japan have a good army? ›
Japan is ranked 8 of 145 out of the countries considered for the annual Global Firepower review. The nation holds a Power Index score of 0.1711 with a score of 0.0000 being considered exceptional in the GFP assessment. This country is a Top 10 world power according to the GFP index formula.What is Japan ranked in military? ›
The Self Defense Force, the country's current military, was founded in 1954. Today, Japan is ranked fifth globally in overall military power after the United States, Russia, China and India, and its defense budget ranked sixth in the 2021 ranking of 140 countries by the Global Firepower rating site.Does US army protect Japan? ›
Article 5 commits the United States to defend Japan if it is attacked by a third party. Article 6 explicitly grants the United States the right to base troops on Japanese soil, subject to a detailed "Administrative Agreement" negotiated separately.How many US soldiers are in Japan? ›
|United States Forces Japan 在日米軍|
|Part of||U.S. Indo-Pacific Command|
|Headquarters||Yokota Air Base, Fussa, Western Tokyo|
Samurai (侍) were the hereditary military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan from the late 12th century until their abolition in the 1870s during the Meiji era.How many US bases are in Japan? ›
At present, there are seven U.S. military facilities including Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. The total area of the facilities is approximately 1,602 hectares (3,967 acres).What army is stronger Japan or China? ›
Of course, economically and militarily, China is ahead of Japan. The former has a greater number of conventional weapons and personnel, but Japan hopes to counter these with more sophisticated weapons supplied by its ally the United States.Why can't Japan have an army? ›
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prohibits Japan from establishing a military or solving international conflicts through violence. However, there has been widespread public debate since 2000 about the possibility of reducing or deleting Article 9 from the constitution.
In 2022, China had the largest armed forces in the world by active duty military personnel, with about 2 million active soldiers. India, the United States, North Korea, and Russia rounded out the top five largest armies.
What country is number 1 in military? ›
United States. The United States of America is a North American nation that is the world's most dominant economic and military power.Is self-defense illegal in Japan? ›
The Japanese gov- ernment has taken the position that there are three conditions for the exercise of force by the SDF under the right of self-defense: (1) there must be an imminent and unjust invasion against Japan; (2) there must be no other proper means of defense; and (3) force must be exercised to the minimum ...What is the biggest U.S. base in Japan? ›
The 18th Wing is host at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japan. It is the largest U.S. military installation in the Asia-Pacific region and the largest wing in the Air Force.Does Japan rely on the U.S. military? ›
For the past seven decades, Japan, which gave up the right to wage war after its defeat in World War Two, has relied on the United States for protection. In return for its promise to defend the country, the U.S. gets bases that allow it to maintain a major military presence in East Asia.Why are so many U.S. troops in Japan? ›
Japanese governments have allowed US bases in Okinawa in exchange for a US commitment to defend Japan from external attacks and have supported the bases on the grounds that they ostensibly enhance Japan's security. During the 1945-52 US occupation of Japan, the Americans constructed military bases in Okinawa.What is the largest U.S. military base by area? ›
Topping the list for the world's largest military base is in Fort Bragg. This is located in the United State's North Carolina.Which U.S. military has the most soldiers? ›
The U.S. Army had the highest number of active duty personnel in 2021, with 482,416 troops. In the same year, the Space Force had the fewest number of active duty members, with 1,643.What do Japanese call Americans? ›
Westerner ("seiyohjin" or "western ocean person") is used by Japanese in formal speech or writing to refer to Euramericans in general. But often they'll just use the term "gaijin" or, more politely "gaikokujin", (gai means "outside", and koku means "country"), meaning "foreigners" .What did Germans call US soldiers? ›
Ami - German slang for an American soldier.How many lives would it cost to invade Japan? ›
A study done for Stimson's staff by William Shockley estimated that invading Japan would cost 1.7–4 million American casualties, including 400,000–800,000 fatalities, and five to ten million Japanese fatalities.
Does the U.S. still occupy Japan? ›
The occupation officially ended with coming into force of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed on September 8, 1951, and effective from April 28, 1952, after which the U.S. military ceased any direct involvement in the country's civil administration thus effectively restoring full sovereignty to Japan with the ...What U.S. Army units are in Japan? ›
Camp Zama is home to the U.S. Army Japan (USARJ), I Corps (Forward), U.S. Army Aviation Battalion Japan, the 311th Military Intelligence Battalion, the Japan Engineer District (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), the 78th Signal Battalion, and the Bilateral Coordination Department and 4th Engineer Group of the Japan Ground ...Is Okinawa still a U.S. territory? ›
The island was under American administration until 1972, and today hosts around 26,000 US military personnel, about half of the total complement of the United States Forces Japan, spread among 32 bases and 48 training sites.Who won the Japan vs China war? ›
When Japan was finally defeated in 1945, China was on the winning side, but lay devastated, having suffered some 15 million deaths, massive destruction of industrial infrastructure and agricultural production, and the shattering of the tentative modernization begun by the Nationalist government.Is Japan a military superpower? ›
The Japanese Self-Defense Forces have been described as the world's fifth most powerful military. In November 2021, Japan's military budget of $47 billion was supplemented by an additional appropriation of $6.7 billion.Who has a better Army USA or China? ›
China's military has more serving members, at around 2 million, compared with just under 1.4 million in the U.S.Can Japan fight a war? ›
2014 reinterpretation. In July 2014, Japan's government approved a reinterpretation of Article 9. This reinterpretation allows Japan to exercise the right of "collective self-defense" in some instances and to engage in military action if one of its allies were to be attacked.Which country has no army? ›
The Republic of Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, there haven't been any standing army troops since 1949, although the country's police force is employed for the standing army. In 1983, El Salvador, known as the “Switzerland of Central America,” declared its permanent and unarmed neutrality.
Of course, when you reach the top, you can find them becoming SEALs or a part of the Marine Raider Regiment (MRR), but the training of any Marine is some of the hardest military training in the world. Even outside of Special Forces, Marines have to be ready for both land and sea combat.
However, for now, the US remains the most powerful military in the world. The Russian war and China's increasingly aggressive posture in the Pacific is increasing its anxiety and thus forcing it to boost its defense budget, thereby helping major defense companies.
Who is the strongest air force in the world? ›
United States Air Force
As per the reports, by 2021, the United States Air Force (USAF) is comprised of 5217 active aircraft, making it the largest, the most technologically evolved, and the most powerful air fleet in the world.
United States is ranked 1 of 145 out of the countries considered for the annual Global Firepower review. The nation holds a Power Index score of 0.0712 with a score of 0.0000 being considered exceptional in the GFP assessment.What rank is Canada's army in the world? ›
For 2023, Canada is ranked 27 of 145 out of the countries considered for the annual GFP review. The nation holds a PwrIndx* score of 0.3956 (a score of 0.0000 is considered 'perfect').Can a civilian own a gun in Japan? ›
Other than the police and the military, no one in Japan may purchase a handgun or a rifle. Hunters and target shooters may possess shotguns and airguns under strictly circumscribed conditions. The police check gun licensees' ammunition inventory to make sure there are no shells or pellets unaccounted for.Is it illegal to carry a gun in Japan? ›
Under Japanese law, possession of firearms is illegal without a special license. Importing them is also illegal. The same rules apply to some kinds of knives and certain other weapons, like crossbows.What size knife is legal in Japan? ›
It is illegal to carry a blade of any kind exceeding 6 cm, without justifiable grounds. Persons violating this law face imprisonment with work for up to 2 years or a fine of up to 300,000 yen.Where is the strongest U.S. military base? ›
Torii Station Army Base in Okinawa, Japan
Torii Station is currently the most important military base run by the United States of America in Japan. It is the home of the US Army. It is located close to Okinawa, in Yomitan. Although the profile of the base is military, it is also used for civilian needs.
Kadena Air Base (嘉手納飛行場, Kadena Hikōjō) (IATA: DNA, ICAO: RODN) is a United States Air Force base in the towns of Kadena and Chatan and the city of Okinawa, in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. It is often referred to as the "Keystone of the Pacific" because of its highly strategic location.Is Japan now an ally of the US? ›
Japan, a U.S. treaty ally since 1951, is a significant U.S. partner in several foreign policy areas, particularly security and trade. Shared security goals include meeting the challenge of an increasingly powerful China and countering threats from North Korea.
Is Japan allied with Russia? ›
The two countries ended their formal state of war with the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, but as of 2022 have not resolved this territorial dispute over ownership of the Kurils.Is Japan tax free for military? ›
No. Employment income earned on-base through a military source is not subject to Japanese income tax. However, you must still pay state and federal income tax. State tax is payable to the appropriate state.Why did the U.S. not want to invade Japan? ›
American war planners projected that a land invasion of Japan could cost the lives of up to a million U.S. soldiers and many more Japanese.Why does the U.S. defend Japan? ›
For over 60 years the United States-Japan Alliance has served as the cornerstone of peace, stability, and freedom in the Indo-Pacific region. The U.S. commitment to Japan's defense under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty of 1960 is unwavering.How much does it cost to keep U.S. troops in Japan? ›
Tokyo — Japanese government spending to cover the cost of hosting American troops — an issue which became contentious during the Trump administration — has been finalized by Japan's parliament. The new $8.6 billion, five-year, host-nation support budget takes effect in April and runs through 2027.Who has the biggest army in the world? ›
In 2022, China had the largest armed forces in the world by active duty military personnel, with about 2 million active soldiers. India, the United States, North Korea, and Russia rounded out the top five largest armies.Is Japan army bigger than China? ›
Of course, economically and militarily, China is ahead of Japan. The former has a greater number of conventional weapons and personnel, but Japan hopes to counter these with more sophisticated weapons supplied by its ally the United States.How big is Taiwan army? ›
Data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies' (IISS) Military Balance 2022 report shows that the island's 169,000-strong active military personnel is currently backed by some 1.66 million reservists.Who has the biggest army in NATO? ›
The most recent figures published by NATO shows the US is the single largest contributor to the alliance. Based on NATO estimates for 2022, the US contributes 1.3 million armed personnel, making up 40.7% of the 3.3 million armed personnel in the alliance. The remaining 59.3% come from Canada and European countries.Which country has the strongest army ever? ›
The United States of America is a North American nation that is the world's most dominant economic and military power.
Who is the best army in the world? ›
In what shouldn't be a surprise, the U.S. “retains its top spot as the undisputed military power in the world,” Global Firepower says. America has more air units than any other country on Earth, with 2,085 fighters, 967 attack helicopters, 945 transports and 742 special mission aircraft.Why Japan has no armed forces? ›
Constitutional limitations. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prohibits Japan from establishing a military or solving international conflicts through violence. However, there has been widespread public debate since 2000 about the possibility of reducing or deleting Article 9 from the constitution.Is China or Japan more powerful? ›
The 2022 report ranks Japan as the third most powerful country in Asia after the United States and China. India follows in fourth place, while Russia is ranked fifth, followed by Australia, South Korea, Singapore and Indonesia.How many fighter jets does Taiwan have? ›
The Taiwan Air Force has about 70,000 personnel and over 400 combat aircraft.How many American troops are in Taiwan? ›
|United States Taiwan Defense Command 美軍協防台灣司令部|
|Size||70 troops from Combined Arms and branches|
|Part of||United States Pacific Command|
|Garrison/HQ||HSA Compound, Yuanshan, Taipei|
Current Active Inventory: 5,209 Aircraft.
|Task||Hours per Day|
United States of America The United States is the world's most powerful country, with a dominant military, economic strength, and cultural influence.