In his annual policy speech to Japanese lawmakers, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged that the country would engage in a more robust defense policy as threats from North Korea and China increase.

In particular, Abe said Japan must bolster its defensive capabilities amid an “increasingly severe” security environment.

He also repeated an earlier pledge to “not follow precedent” regarding the current defense strategy, which was implemented in 2013.

“Based on the premise that our exclusively defense-oriented posture will remain intact, we will calibrate what defense capabilities are truly needed to protect our citizens, instead of just following precedent,” he said.

In 2017, North Korea test-fired several ballistic missiles, two of which flew over Japan’s northern-most island.

Abe’s Cabinet, meanwhile, has already approved a record draft defense budget, featuring the introduction of two Aegis Ashore interceptor batteries and Japan’s first long-range cruise missiles mountable on fighter jets.

“By ushering in Aegis Ashore batteries and standoff missiles, we will beef up our defense capabilities,” he said. [source]

(Abe is Japan’s most militarily aggressive PM in recent memory, and perhaps since World War II. He sees his part of the world getting more and more dangerous, and he understands that unbridled pacifism is no longer an option. But it won’t be easy convincing his country that it must rise to meet these security challenges, and there is always the issue of dealing with the country’s America-authored ‘pacifist’ constitution. Continued North Korea and Chinese aggression, however, will help him make his case. — JD)

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