After the Second World War, the U.S. hoped that Japan would not rise again militarily. Consequently, Japan declared the permanent denouncement of a military force in Article 9 of the Constitution in 1947. When the Korean War started in 1950, the U.S. dispatched the force stationed in Japan to Korea to fight with North Korea. The U.S. realized the need of some force to defend Japan; thus, the “National Police Reserve” was formed in 1950. The Reserve was then re-formed into the “National Safety Forces” in 1952, and the latter was ultimately reorganized into the “Japan Self-Defense Force” in 1954. Japan never called their forces as “military” or “armed forces” as this is clearly forbidden by the Constitution.

The continuous lack of military force may be ideal but in reality this is not optimal. How can Japan defend itself? Eventually, Japan’s Self Defense Force is actually a military force. The military budget of Japan in 2011 was the 6th largest in the world after the U.S., China, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia. For the actual defense of Japan, Japan signed a treaty with the U.S. in 1952 that the U.S. will protect Japan from outside aggression. Especially when it comes to protection from a nuclear attack, Japan is protected by the “U.S. Umbrella”, as Japan does not possess any nuclear weapons.

Recently, Japan is taking an active role to expand its military strength, especially since Mr. Shinzo Abe became a Prime Minister for the second time. The expansion is primarily prompted by the increase of military influence by China in the South China Sea and East China Sea., where both sides claim that the Senkaku Islands are an integral part of their territory. South China Sea is, indeed, far away from Japan, but Japan’s interests, especially when it comes to oil supplies, are deeply embedded with the China Sea: The oil supply network passes through the South China Sea, therefore the status of the area is crucial for the vitality of Japan.

The second reason for Japan’s military expansion is fear on the Japanese side that the protection by the U.S. is unreliable. For the dispute over Senkaku Islands, the U.S. simply claimed that the dispute should be solved by the countries involved. Japan holds the impression that the U.S. may not protect their ally in case of war involving the Senkaku Islands, which are small and uninhabited. Given the lack of interests tied with these islands, Japan doubts the preparedness of the US to fight for the interests of Japan.

As a result, the notion of self-protection has been gaining ground in Japan. Recently Japan took big steps in deciding to export military weapons and the Government promised to assist the defense industry by providing loans and training on the newly acquired weapons to the purchasing countries. This is more or less the first step of Japan’s military expansion. However, the biggest neck is to change Article 9 of the Constitution that abandons war for Japan forever. Current Japanese government is working on this goal, and once this goal is achieved Japan is free to expand its military force and its defense program.

Japan Chemical Vehicle
Japan Chemical Vehicle

As for CBRN, there is no immediate change but it will grow gradually as Japan is determined and will be able to expand the defense force. Currently Japan has 5 military districts; they are the Northern district (Hokaido Island), Northeastern district, Eastern district, Central district, and the Western district. For every district there is one unit of chemical troops. The Chemical School of Self Ground Force is located in Omiya and it is the training place for chemical officers in Japan. Japan has a very good chemical troop that was amply proved in the 1995 Tokyo Subway Sarin Terrorism attack. In this event, the Japanese Chemical Troops effectively assisted the Japanese police for the use of gas masks, as well as the decontamination of subway trains.

After the anthrax terrorism events in the U.S. in 2001, the Japanese Chemical Troops also started a biological weapon program. Some Japanese politicians proposed to arm Japan with nuclear weapons but at the moment this is highly unrealistic. The U.S. opposes Japan having nuclear weapons and repeatedly declared that Japan is to be protected by the American nuclear shield in the event of external nuclear threat.

Aside from nuclear weapons, Japan’s Chemical and Biological Weapon Defense Force is sound and will expand more as Japan as a whole expands militarily.