On December 17, 2010, Tokyo adopted new defense guidelines, the “National Defense Program Guidelines” (NDPG). The December 2010 defense guidelines outline the country’s ten-year defense strategy and call for the establishment of a flexible armed forces structure with mobile units capable of rapid deployment in the case of a regional military crisis. Japan’s new NDPG, however, did not alter the fundamentals of Japan’s defense and security policies: They will remain “exclusively defensive defense policies”, the country’s so-called “Three Non-Nuclear Principles” remain unrevised and Tokyo did not lift the self-imposed ban to export weapons and weapons technology (which it then did in December 2011, see below). While the December 2010 defense guidelines do not introduce a radical qualitative departure of from decade-long defense and security policies, they are nonetheless defense guidelines which unambiguously respond to China’s rapid military modernization and the Beijing’s equally growing assertiveness (and indeed aggressiveness) as regards its territorial claims in the East China Sea
In sum, Japan’s new defense guidelines are those of a country that is willing and prepared to defend its territorial and security interests with military force. Japan is-at least more or less- becoming “normal” in terms of security and defense and this paper will seek to explain why and how.