Why is Germany Allowed to have an Army While Japan Isn’t?


Whilst doing some research for something else, I came across the following question:

Why is Germany allowed to have an army while Japan isn’t?

I found the question amusing as both Germany (both as East and West, and then unified) and Japan have armies, and have done so for several decades.


During World War II, Germany and Japan (along with Italy) were the principal members of the Axis powers.

The Axis were united in their far-right positions and general opposition to the Allies, but otherwise lacked comparable coordination and ideological cohesion.

Both the German and Japanese Armies were dissolved after WWII, but with a perceived rising threat from the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1950s, Chinese Communist Party control of China, and the Korean War, it was considered prudent to re-establish both armies.

Whilst Germany does (officially and explicitly) have an Army, commentators suggest that Japan’s Self-Defence Forces are extensions of the national police force (and not land, sea, or air forces (something rhyming with ‘shining bright’ comes to mind)). But, to me least, that is like stating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a ‘special military operation’ and not a war! Semantics I say.

For those paying attention you might now be asking about Italy. Italy signed an armistice with the Allies in 1943:

  • The ‘good guys’ under King Victor Emmanuel III and Pietro Badoglio (Italian Co-Belligerent Army) with the Allies; and
  • The ‘bad guys’ under Mussolini (Italian Social Republic) with the Axis.

The aftermath of World War II left Italy with an anger against the monarchy for its endorsement of the Fascist regime for the previous twenty years. These frustrations contributed to a revival of the Italian republican movement. Italy became a republic after the 1946 Italian institutional referendum held on 02 June 1946, a day celebrated since as Festa della Repubblica.

Brief History of the German Army

General Outline

  • A German army equipped, organised, and trained following a single doctrine and permanently unified under one command was created in 1871 during the unification of Germany under the leadership of Prussia.
  • From 1871 to 1919, the title Deutsches Heer (German Army) was the official name of the German land forces.
    • Following the German defeat in World War I and the end of the German Empire, the main army was dissolved.
  • From 1921 to 1935 the name of the German land forces was the Reichsheer (Army of the Empire) and from 1935 to 1945 the name Heer was used.
  • The Heer was one of two ground forces of the Third Reich during World War II but, unlike the Heer, the Waffen-SS was not a branch of the Wehrmacht but was a combat force under the Nazi Party’s own Schutzstaffel forces.
  • After World War II, Germany was divided into the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), which both later formed their own armed forces.
  • The Heer, or Wehrmacht, was formally disbanded on 20 August 1946.
  • The West German Constitution was approved in Bonn on 08 May 1949 and came into effect on 23 May after having been approved by the occupying western Allies of World War II on 12 May.
    • It was termed “Basic Law” (German: Grundgesetz) to indicate that it was a provisional piece of legislation pending the reunification of Germany.
    • However, when reunification took place in 1990, the Basic Law was retained as the definitive constitution of a reunified Germany.
  • On 08 February 1952 the Bundestag approved a German contribution to the defence of Western Europe and on 26 February 1954 the Basic Law of the Republic was amended with the insertion of an article regarding the defence of the sovereignty of the federal government.
  • Germany gains entry into NATO effective from 09 May 1955.
  • On 12 November 1955 the first recruits began their service in the West German Heer.
    • In 1956 the first troops set up seven training companies in Andernach and began the formation of schools and training centres.
    • On 01 April 1957, the first conscripts arrived for service in the army.
  • On 01 March 1956 the East German Landstreitkräfte der NVA (Land Forces of the National People’s Army) were founded.
  • During the Cold War, the West German Army was fully integrated into NATO‘s command structure while the Landstreitkräfte were part of the Warsaw Pact.
  • Following the process of German reunification in 1990, the Landstreitkräfte were partially integrated into the German Army.
    • The former East German forces were initially controlled by the Bundeswehr Command East under the command of Lieutenant General Jörg Schönbohm and disbanded on 30 June 1991.
  • Since then, the German Army has been employed in peacekeeping operations worldwide and since 2002 also in combat operations in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The Basic Law and the German Military

  • From the outset, the Basic Law guaranteed the right of conscientious objection to war service (Article 4), and prohibited the Federal Republic from activities preparing for or engaging in aggressive war (Article 26).
    • These provisions remain in force.
  • Also in the 1949 Basic Law, Article 24 empowered the federal government to join international systems for mutual collective security; but made no specific provision for West German rearmament.
  • The Basic Law was amended in 1955 with Article 87a (Armed Forces) allowing the creation from new of federal armed forces, the Bundeswehr.
    • Article 87b deals with Federal Defence administration.
    • The Bundeswehr therefore has no constitutional or legal continuity with either the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, or with the Wehrmacht of WWII Germany.
  • Under the Basic Law, during times of peace, the Bundeswehr is under the command of the Minister of Defence, and during wartime under the Federal Chancellor.
    • The Chancellor is directly responsible to the parliament and the Minister is indirectly responsible to the parliament because it can remove the entire Cabinet by electing a new chancellor.
  • Although this is not explicitly spelled out in the Basic Law, a number of Constitutional Court cases in the 1990s established that the military may not be deployed by the government outside of NATO territory without a specific resolution of parliament, which describes the details of the mission and limits its term.
    • There are also strict restrictions on the intervention of the military within Germany (i.e. a ban of the military being used for police-type duties), which generally only allow the military to act in unarmed roles within Germany (such as disaster relief).

Article 87a

(1) The Federation shall establish Armed Forces for purposes of defence. Their numerical strength and general organisational structure must be shown in the budget.
(1a) For the purpose of strengthening its ability to honour its alliance obligations and its defence capability, the Federation may establish a special trust with its own credit authorisation for a single amount of up to 100 billion euros. Paragraph (3) of Article 109 and paragraph (2) of Article 115 shall not apply to the credit authorisation. Details shall be regulated by a federal law.
(2) Apart from defence, the Armed Forces may be employed only to the extent expressly permitted by this Basic Law.
(3) During a state of defence or a state of tension the Armed Forces shall have the power to protect civilian property and to perform traffic control functions to the extent necessary to accomplish their defence mission. Moreover, during a state of defence or a state of tension, the Armed Forces may also be authorised to support police measures for the protection of civilian property; in this event the Armed Forces shall cooperate with the competent authorities.
(4) In order to avert an imminent danger to the existence or free democratic basic order of the Federation or of a Land, the Federal Government, if the conditions referred to in paragraph (2) of Article 91 obtain and forces of the police and the Federal Border Police are insufficient, may employ the Armed Forces to support the police and the Federal Border Police in protecting civilian property and in combating organised armed insurgents. Any such employment of the Armed Forces shall be discontinued if the Bundestag or the Bundesrat so demands.

Articles 115a to 115l also refer to Defence matters.

Brief History of the Japanese Army

General Outline

  • The Imperial Japanese Armed Forces (IJAF) were founded with an edict on 03 January 1868 as part of the Japanese reorganisation of the army and the application of innovations during the Meiji Restoration.
  • In 1870, a proclamation of unified military system (Army is French-style, Navy is British-style).
  • Proclamation of conscription order in 1873.
  • On 26 July 1945, shortly before the end of the Second World War, Allied leaders of the United States (President Harry S. Truman), the United Kingdom (Prime Minister Winston Churchill), and the Republic of China (President Chiang Kai-shek) issued the Potsdam Declaration.
    • The Declaration demanded Japanese military’s unconditional surrender, demilitarisation and democratisation.
    • The declaration defined the major goals of the post-surrender Allied occupation: “The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established” (Section 10).
    • In addition, “The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government” (Section 12).
      • The vast majority of allied troops were American, and the Americans are still there to this day.
    • The Allies sought not merely punishment or reparations from a militaristic foe, but fundamental changes in the nature of its political system.
  • Japanese Instrument of Surrender Signing Ceremony on Battleship Missouri (Japanese Instrument of Surrender, All Armies Stopped Combat, Disarmament Order), Greater East Asia War (Pacific War) and End of World War II on 02 September 1945.
  • In November 1945, the Ministry of the Army and the Ministry of the Navy are dismantled and become the 1st Ministry of Demobilisation and the 2nd Ministry of Demobilisation.
    • Among other reforms, the US worked with Japanese leaders to completely disband the Japanese military.
    • In addition, the US sought to unravel the wartime Japanese police state by breaking up the national police force into small American-style police forces controlled at the local level.
    • Perhaps the most famous reform was Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which explicitly disavows war as an instrument of state policy and promises that Japan will never maintain a military.
  • 03 November 1946, promulgation of the constitution of Japan.
  • The new constitution is adopted in 1947, with Article 9 stating Japan renounced its right to wage war and maintain military forces.
    • While Article 9 of the constitution explicitly forbade Japan from maintaining a military or pursuing war as a means to settle international disputes, this policy soon became problematic especially as neighbouring China fell under the control of the Chinese Communist Party and war broke out on the Korean peninsula (refer to the Korean War).
  • As a result, US occupation authorities authorised the establishment of a National Police Reserve (NPR, 警察予備隊, Keisatsu-yobitai), consisting of 75,000 men equipped with light infantry weapons, in July 1950.
    • The NPR was formally established on 10 August 1950.
  • The National Safety Forces are reorganised on 10 August 1952 to include the Coastal Safety Force (海上警備隊, Kaijō Keibitai), the waterborne counterpart of NPR.
  • The NPR was reorganised into the Japan Self-Defence Forces (JSDF) on 01 July 1954, effectively completing the de facto remilitarisation of Japan on the orders of Supreme Commander for the Allied Forces (SCAP), General Matthew Ridgeway (who took over from General of the Army Douglas MacArthur in 1951).
    • The National Security Board was reorganised as the Defence Agency.
    • The National Security Force was reorganised as the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF, de facto post-war Japanese Army), the Coastal Safety Force was reorganised as the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF, de facto post-war Japanese Navy), and the Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF, de facto post-war Japanese Air Force) was established as a new branch of JSDF.
    • General Keizō Hayashi was appointed the first Chairman of the Joint Staff Council (aka the professional head of the three branches).
    • The enabling legislation for this was the 1954 Self-Defence Forces Act (Act No. 165 of 1954).
    • JSDF controlled by the Ministry of Defence with the Prime Minister as commander-in-chief.
  • In 1990, the United States called on its ally Japan for assistance in the Gulf War.
    • However, then-current Japanese interpretation of Article 9 forbade the overseas dispatch of Japanese military troops.
    • Accordingly, Japan contributed $9 billion of monetary support.
  • On 28 May 1999, the Regional Affairs Law was enacted.
    • It allows Japan to automatically participate as “rear support” if the United States wages war under “regional affairs.
  • The Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law was passed on 29 October 2001.
    • It allows the JSDF to contribute by itself to international efforts to the prevention and eradication of terrorism.
    • While on duty, the JSDF can use weapons to protect itself and others who come under its control.
    • Previously Japan’s policy was non-involvement.
  • In between the Gulf War and the start of the Iraq War in 2003, the Japanese government revised its interpretation of Article 9.
    • Thus during the Iraq War, Japan was able to dispatch noncombat ground forces in a logistical support role in support of US operations in Iraq.
  • On 27 March 2004, the Japan Defence Agency activated the Special Operations Group with the mandate under the JGSDF as its Counter-terrorist unit.
  • On 08 June 2006, the Cabinet of Japan endorsed a bill elevating the Defence Agency (防衛庁) under the Cabinet Office to full-fledged cabinet-level Ministry of Defence (防衛省).
    • This was passed by the National Diet in December 2006 and has been in force since 09 January 2007.
  • Section 2 of Article 3 of the Self Defence Forces Act was revised on 09 January 2007.
    • JSDF activities abroad were elevated from “miscellaneous regulations” to “basic duties.”
    • This fundamentally changed the nature of the JSDF because its activities were no longer solely defensive.
    • JMSDF ships can be dispatched worldwide such as in activities against pirates.
  • The JSDF’s first post-war overseas base was established in Djibouti in July 2010.
  • On 18 September 2015, the National Diet enacted the 2015 Japanese military legislation, a series of laws that allow Japan’s SDF to defend allies in combat.
    • The JSDF may provide material support to allies engaged in combat overseas.
    • The new law also allows JSDF troops to defend weapons platforms belonging to Japan’s allies if doing so would somehow contribute to Japan’s defence.
    • The justification being that not defending or coming to the aid of an ally under attack weakens alliances and endangers Japan.
    • These were Japan’s broadest changes to its defence laws since World War II.
    • The JSDF Act was also amended to make it illegal for JSDF personnel/staff to participate in collective insubordination or to command forces without authority or in violation of orders, which was stated to be the reason Japan was involved in China in World War II.
  • A Credit Suisse survey published in 2015 ranked Japan as the world’s fourth most-powerful military behind Russia, China, and United States.
  • Since March 2016, Japan’s Legislation for Peace and Security enables seamless responses of the JSDF to any situation to protect the lives and livelihood of Japanese citizens.
    • It also increases proactive contributions to peace and security in the world and deepens cooperation with partners.
    • This enhanced the Japan-US alliance as global partners to promote peace and security in the region and the international community.
  • British troops of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) conducted a field exercise together for the first time with Japanese GSDF soldiers in Oyama, Shizuoka prefecture on 02 October 2018.
    • This also marked the first time in history that foreign soldiers other than Americans have had field exercises on Japanese soil.
  • From 19 April to 30 November 2019, two JGSDF officers monitored a ceasefire between Israel and Egypt at the Multinational Force and Observers command in the Sinai peninsula.
    • This was the first time ever that the Japanese government approved JSDF dispatch to a peacekeeping operation that was not led by the United Nations.
  • During 2022, the Japanese government signed a number of defensive partnerships and security agreements (including with the UK, Australia, India, and the US).
  • On 16 December 2022, Japan announced a major policy shift from its exclusively defence-oriented posture by acquiring counterstrike capabilities to hit enemy bases and command-and-control nodes with longer-range standoff missiles and a defence budget increase to 2% of GDP (¥43 trillion ($315 billion) by 2027.

The Constitution of Japan and the Japanese Military (Sorry, Police Force!)

  • Unlike in Germany, the Allies never assumed direct control over Japan’s civil administration.
    • In the immediate aftermath of Japan’s military surrender, the country’s government continued to formally operate under the provisions of the Meiji Constitution.
    • At General Douglas MacArthur‘s insistence, Emperor Hirohito remained on the imperial throne and was effectively granted full immunity from prosecution for war crimes after he agreed to replace the wartime cabinet with a ministry acceptable to the Allies and committed to implementing the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, which among other things called for the country to become a parliamentary democracy.
  • The Constitution of Japan (Shinjitai: 日本国憲法, Kyūjitai: 日本國憲󠄁法, Hepburn: Nihon-koku kenpō) was written primarily by American civilian officials working under the Allied occupation of Japan after World War II.
    • The constitution, also known as the MacArthur Constitution, “Post-war Constitution” (戦後憲法, Sengo-Kenpō), or the “Peace Constitution” (平和憲法, Heiwa-Kenpō), was drafted under the supervision of General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, during the Allied occupation of Japan after World War II.
    • Although written by US officials, Japanese scholars reviewed and modified it before adoption.
    • This new constitution changed Japan’s previous system of semi-constitutional monarchy and stratocracy with a parliamentary monarchy.
  • The current Japanese constitution was promulgated as an amendment of the Meiji Constitution of 1890 on 03 November 1946 when it came into effect on 03 May 1947.
  • The constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government and guarantees certain fundamental human rights.
  • In contrast to the Meiji Constitution, which invested the Emperor of Japan with supreme political power, under the new constitution the Emperor was reduced to “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people” and exercises only a ceremonial role acting under the sovereignty of the people for constitutional monarchy.
    • Under the Meiji Constitution, the prime minister and his cabinet were not accountable to the elected members of the Imperial Diet, and increasingly deferred to the Imperial Japanese Army in the lead-up to the Second Sino-Japanese War.
  • However, it is (probably) best known for Article 9, by which Japan renounces its right to wage war and maintain military forces.
  • Despite this, Japan retains de facto military capabilities in the form of the Self-Defence Forces and also hosts (for legacy reasons) a substantial American military presence.

Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan

The full text of the article in Japanese:

第二章 戦争の放棄 第九条 日本国民は、正義と秩序を基調とする国際平和を誠実に希求し、国権の発動たる戦争と、武力による威嚇又は武力の行使は、国際紛争を解決する手段としては、永久にこれを放棄する。 ② 前項の目的を達するため、陸海空軍その他の戦力は、これを保持しない。国の交戦権は、これを認めない。

The official English translation of the article is:

Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

2014 Reinterpretation

In July 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (coalition government of the Liberal Democratic and Komeito Party) 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. The Japanese National Diet made the reinterpretation official in September 2015 by enacting a series of laws allowing the Japan Self-Defence Forces to provide material support to allies engaged in combat internationally. The stated justification was that failing to defend or support an ally would weaken alliances and endanger Japan.

It is considered by some parties as illegitimate since the Prime Minister circumvented the constitutional amendment procedure, dictating a radical change to the meaning of fundamental principles in the Constitution by way of Cabinet fiat without Diet debate, vote, or public approval. International reaction to this move was mixed. China expressed a negative view of this reinterpretation, while the US, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia reacted positively. The government of South Korea did not oppose the reinterpretation, but noted that it would not approve of JSDF operations in and around the Korean peninsula without its request or approval, and called upon Japan to act in a way that would win the trust of neighbouring states.

In May 2017, Japanese Prime Minister Abe set a 2020 deadline for revising Article 9, which would legitimise the JSDF in the Constitution. Abe retired in 2020 due to health problems without revising Article 9.

The Debate on Article 9

Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan is best understood as having three distinct elements:

  1. A provision that prohibits the use of force (paragraph one);
  2. A provision that prohibits the maintenance of armed forces or “other war potential” (paragraph two, clause one); and
  3. A denial of the rights of belligerency.

It is helpful to keep these distinct elements in mind in considering the operation and effect of Article 9. Paragraph one, which prohibits the use of force has been highly effective in constraining Japanese foreign policy, with the result that Japan has not used force or been engaged in armed conflict since the promulgation of the Constitution. During the Gulf War of 1991, the government of Japan sought to join the US coalition formed to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, but was informed by the Director of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau that doing so would constitute a use of force in violation of Article 9 paragraph one – so Japan was limited to providing financial assistance.

The second element of Article 9, which prohibits Japan from maintaining an army, navy or air force, has been highly controversial, and arguably less effective in shaping policy. From one perspective, one implication of the provision is that in strictly legal terms, the Japan Self-Defence Forces are not land, sea or air forces, but are extensions of the national police force. This has had broad implications for foreign, security and defence policy. According to the Japanese government, “‘war potential’ in paragraph two means force exceeding a minimum level necessary for self-defense. Anything at or below that level does not constitute war potential.” Apparently when the JSDF was created, “since the capability of the JSDF was inadequate to sustain a modern war, it was not war potential”. Seemingly, the Japanese government has looked for loopholes in the wording of the peace clause and the “constitutionality of the Japanese military has been challenged numerous times”. Some Japanese people believe that Japan should be truly pacifist and claim that the JSDF is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court, however, has ruled that it is within the nation’s right to have the capacity to defend itself. Scholars have also discussed “constitutional transformation … [which] occurs when a constitutional provision has lost its effectiveness but has been replaced by a new meaning”. The use of private military companies is also ambiguous in nature and subjected to various interpretations.

The Liberal Democratic Party has advocated changing the context of Article 9 since 1955, when Article 9 was interpreted as renouncing the use of warfare in international disputes but not the internal use of force for the purpose of maintaining law and order. However, the LDP’s longtime coalition partner Komeito have long opposed changing the context of Article 9. The LDP have never had the necessary supermajority (two-thirds of votes in both Houses) in the National Diet to change the Constitution, despite it having a supermajority with Komeito from 2005 to 2009 and from 2012 to the present day.

The opposing party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, tends to concur with the LDP’s interpretation. At the same time, both parties have advocated the revision of Article 9 by adding an extra clause explicitly authorising the use of force for the purpose of self-defence against aggression directed against the Japanese nation. The Japan Socialist Party, on the other hand, had considered the JSDF as unconstitutional and advocated the full implementation of Article 9 through the demilitarisation of Japan. When the party joined with the LDP to form a coalition government, it reversed its position and recognised the JSDF as a structure that was constitutional. The Japanese Communist Party considers the JSDF unconstitutional and has called for reorganisation of Japanese defence policy to feature an armed militia.

At present, the government interprets Article 9 to mean that Japan cannot possess offensive military weapons; this has been interpreted to mean that Japan cannot have ICBMs, all types of weapons of mass destruction (i.e. nuclear weapons), aircraft carriers or bomber fleets. This has not inhibited the deployment of submarines, AEGIS-equipped destroyers, helicopter carriers (including a plan to have at least two helicopter carriers operate V/STOL fighters), fighter aircraft, and a plan for land-attack cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, all of which have substantial, and multi-mission, combat potential (and famously utilised by police forces around the world!). Offensive cyberwarfare operations has been ambiguous in nature and subjected to various interpretations.

Since the late 1990s, Article 9 has been the central feature of a dispute over the ability of Japan to undertake multilateral military commitments overseas. During the late 1980s, increases in government appropriations for the JSDF averaged more than 5% per year. By 1990 Japan was ranked third, behind the then-Soviet Union and the United States, in total defence expenditures, and the United States urged Japan to assume a larger share of the burden of defence of the western Pacific. (Japan has a guideline of a limit of 1% of GDP on defence spending; however, Japan defines a number of activities as non-defence spending.) Given these circumstances, some have viewed Article 9 as increasingly irrelevant. It has remained, however, an important brake on the growth of Japan’s military capabilities. Despite the fading of bitter wartime memories, the general public, according to opinion polls, continued to show strong support for this constitutional provision.

The different views can be clearly organised into four categories:

  • The current pacifists believe in maintaining Article 9 and claim the JSDF is unconstitutional, and would like to detach Japan from international wars. A stricter interpretation could also include peacekeeping operations.
  • The mercantilists have divided opinions about Article 9 although the interpretation is broadened to include the JSDF, and believe that the JSDF’s role should be retained to activities related to the United Nations and for non-combat purposes. They advocate minimal defense spending, and emphasize economic growth.
  • The normalists “call for incremental armament for national defense and accept using military force to maintain international peace and security”. They support the revision of Article 9 to include a clause explaining the existence and function of the JSDF.
  • The nationalists assert that Japan should remilitarise and build nuclear capabilities in order to regain pride and independence. They also advocate revision or, in extreme cases, the repeal and abolishment of Article 9 to promote renewed rearmament.

Evidently, opinions range from one extreme of pacifism, to the other extreme of nationalism and complete remilitarisation. The majority of Japanese citizens approve the spirit of Article 9 and consider it personally important. But since the 1990s, there has been a shift away from a stance that would tolerate no alteration of the article to allowing a revision that would resolve the discord between the JSDF and Article 9. Additionally, quite a few citizens consider that Japan should allow itself to commit the Japan Self-Defence Forces to collective defence efforts, like those agreed to on the UN Security Council in the Gulf War, for instance. Japan’s ability to “engage in collective defense” has been argued. The involvement of Japan in the Gulf War of 1990, or lack of involvement, has provoked significant criticism. Despite US pressure on Japan to assist America in Iraq, Japan limited their involvement in the war to financial contribution primarily because of domestic opposition to the deployment of troops. As a result of the painfully ardent disapproval from the US during the Gulf War, Japan was quick to act after the September 11 attacks in 2001. It was clear that “the 11 September attacks led to increased U.S. demands for Japanese security cooperation”. On 29 October 2001, the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law was passed, which “further broadened the definition of Japan’s self-defense”. The law allowed Japan to support the US military on foreign territory. This law provoked “citizen groups [to] file lawsuits against the Japanese government in order to stop the dispatch of JSDF troops to Iraq and to confirm the unconstitutionality of such a dispatch”, though the troops sent to Iraq were not sent for combat but for humanitarian aid. Japan has actively built US-Japan relations precisely because of Article 9 and Japan’s inability to engage in an offensive war. It has been debated that, “when [Koizumi] declared support for the U.S.-led war on Iraq in March 2003, and when he sent Japanese forces to aid the occupation in January 2004, it was not Iraq that was in the Japanese sights so much as North Korea”. Japan’s unstable relations with North Korea, as well as other neighbouring Asian countries has forced Japan to batter and bend Article 9 to “permit an increasingly expansive interpretation” of the constitution in the hopes of guaranteeing US support in these relations.

Former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi said in a speech, he called for abolishing Article 9, saying if Japan were to become a: “respectable member (of) the community of nations it would first have to revise its constitution and rearm: If Japan is alone in renouncing war … she will not be able to prevent others from invading her land. If, on the other hand, Japan could defend herself, there would be no further need of keeping United States garrison forces in Japan. … Japan should be strong enough to defend herself.”

In May 2007, the then Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe (Nobusuke Kishi’s grandson) marked the 60th anniversary of the Japanese Constitution by calling for a “bold review” of the document to allow the country to take a larger role in global security and foster a revival of national pride. Aside from Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, as of 2012, the Japan Restoration Party, Democratic Party of Japan, People’s New Party, and Your Party support a constitutional amendment to reduce or abolish restrictions imposed by Article 9.

On 07 September 2018, candidate in the 2018 LDP Leadership Election, Shigeru Ishiba criticized Shinzo Abe for shifting his stance on Article 9 revision. Ishiba advocates the removal of Paragraph 2 of Article 9 which denies Japan’s “right of belligerency.” This is based on a LDP draft of changes for the law in 2012. In May 2017, Abe changed his stance to keep both the first and second paragraph of article 9 while adding a reference to the Japan Self-Defence Forces.

In January 2019, then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in the National Diet that long-range cruise missiles are not banned under Article 9 of the Constitution.

On 21 October 2019 a senior US military officer in Tokyo said that “Japan’s avoidance of offensive weaponry under its constitution is no longer acceptable.” The officer stated that Japan needs to rethink its rejection of offensive weapons and that the government should discuss it with the public. The officer said that the government of Japan should inform the public about the threats of China and North Korea.

A constitutional amendment would require a two-thirds majority and pass referendum to effect it (as per Article 96 of the Japanese Constitution). Despite numerous attempts by the LDP to change Article 9, they have never been able to achieve the large majority required, as revision is opposed by a number of Japanese parties including the DPJ and the Japanese Communist Party.

International Comparisons

In the Italian Constitution Article 11 is similar to the Japanese analogue, but the use of military forces is permitted for self-defense (articles 52 and 78) and also for peace-keeping purposes, if agreed with international organizations:


L’Italia ripudia la guerra come strumento di offesa alla libertà degli altri popoli e come mezzo di risoluzione delle controversie internazionali; consente, in condizioni di parità con gli altri Stati, alle limitazioni di sovranità necessarie ad un ordinamento che assicuri la pace e la giustizia fra le Nazioni; promuove e favorisce le organizzazioni internazionali rivolte a tale scopo.

English translation:

Italy repudiates war as an instrument offending the liberty of the peoples and as a means for settling international disputes; it agrees to limitations of sovereignty where they are necessary to allow for a legal system of peace and justice between nations, provided the principle of reciprocity is guaranteed; it promotes and encourages international organizations furthering such ends.

The Article 12 of the Constitution of Costa Rica enacted in 1949 establishes:

Se proscribe el Ejército como institución permanente. Para la vigilancia y conservación del orden público, habrá las fuerzas de policía necesarias. Sólo por convenio continental o para la defensa nacional podrán organizarse fuerzas militares; unas y otras estarán siempre subordinadas al poder civil; no podrán deliberar, ni hacer manifestaciones o declaraciones en forma individual o colectiva.

English translation:

The Army as a permanent institution is abolished. There shall be the necessary police forces for surveillance and the preservation of the public order. Military forces may only be organized under a continental agreement or for the national defense; in either case, they shall always be subordinate to the civil power: they may not deliberate or make statements or representations individually or collectively.

The German Constitution emphasizes the obligations of International Law as being part of the federal law and taking precedence above subconstitutional law – although not above constitutional law (Art. 25 GG).

It also forbids international acts of aggression, including offensive wars, stating in Article 26, Section 1:

Handlungen, die geeignet sind und in der Absicht vorgenommen werden, das friedliche Zusammenleben der Völker zu stören, insbesondere die Führung eines Angriffskrieges vorzubereiten, sind verfassungswidrig. Sie sind unter Strafe zu stellen.

English Translation:

Acts tending to and undertaken with intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations, especially to prepare for a war of aggression, shall be unconstitutional. They shall be criminalised.

Article 5 of the South Korean constitution, last amended in 1986, states:

① 대한민국은 국제평화의 유지에 노력하고 침략적 전쟁을 부인한다.
② 국군은 국가의 안전보장과 국토방위의 신성한 의무를 수행함을 사명으로 하며, 그 정치적 중립성은 준수된다.

English Translation:

  1. The Republic of Korea shall endeavor to maintain international peace and shall renounce any war of aggression.
  2. The national Armed Forces shall be charged with the sacred mission of national security and the defence of the land and their political neutrality shall be observed.

Brief History of the Italian Army


  • The Italian Army’s history dates back to the Italian unification in the 1850s and 1860s.
  • The Italian Army originated as the Royal Army (Regio Esercito), which dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy following the seizure of the Papal States and the unification of Italy (Risorgimento).
  • In 1861, under the leadership of Giuseppe Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy was invited to take the throne and of the newly created kingdom.
  • Italian expeditions were dispatched to China during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 and to Libya during the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-1912.
  • The Italian Royal Army’s first real taste of modern warfare was during World War I.
    • Most of the actions were fought in northern Italy, and the Royal Army suffered many casualties.
  • During the Interwar Years the Royal Army participated in the Italian Invasion of Ethiopia, provided men and materials during the Spanish Civil War to fight in the Corps of Volunteer Troops (Corpo Truppe Volontarie), and launched the Italian invasion of Albania.
  • Italy declared war on 10 June 1940 and initially the Royal Army started a campaign with limited advances in the Alps against the French Army.
    • On paper at least, the Royal Army was one of the largest ground forces (though it could never field the numbers claimed).
    • Due to poor military leadership and equipment dating from World War I, the Army suffered several defeats.
  • In August 1940, the Royal Army obtained the only Italian victory in World War II, without German intervention, when it carried out the conquest of British Somaliland.
  • After the Axis defeat in Tunisia, the morale of the Italian troops dropped. Once the Allies landed in Sicily on 10 July 1943, most Italian Coastal divisions simply dissolved.
  • Sagging morale led to the overthrow of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini by King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy 15 days later.
  • In September 1943, Italy made an armistice with the Allies and split into the Italian Social Republic – effectively a puppet state of Germany – in the north and that of the Badoglio government in the south.
    • The Italian Co-Belligerent Army (Esercito Cobelligerante Italiano) was the army of the Italian royalist forces fighting on the side of the Allies in southern Italy after the Allied armistice with Italy in September 1943.
    • The Italian soldiers fighting in this army no longer fought for Benito Mussolini as their allegiance was to King Victor Emmanuel and to Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d’Italia) Pietro Badoglio, the men who ousted Mussolini.
  • The Italian Social Republic lasted until April 1945.
  • Hostilities ended on 29 April 1945, when the German forces in Italy surrendered.
  • The aftermath of World War II left Italy with an anger against the monarchy for its endorsement of the Fascist regime for the previous twenty years.
    • These frustrations contributed to a revival of the Italian republican movement.
  • The kingdom was replaced by a Republic in June 1946, and the Royal Army changed its name to become the Italian Army (“Esercito Italiano”).
    • A post-World War II peace treaty signed by Italy prevented the country from deploying military forces in overseas operations as well as possessing fixed-wing vessel-based aircraft for twenty-five years following the end of the war.
    • This treaty expired in 1970, but it would not be until 1982 that Italy first deployed troops on foreign soil, with a peacekeeping contingent dispatched to Beirut following a United Nations request for troops.
  • Following the creation of NATO, the Italian Army was integrated into NATO’s Allied Forces Southern Europe and prepared for a feared invasion from the east, possibly via Yugoslavia. Allied Land Forces Southern Europe (LANDSOUTH), was activated on 10 July 1951 to defend northeastern Italy.
  • On 01 May 1952 the army activated one army command and two corps commands, the Third Army in Padua, and the IV Army Corps in Bolzano and V Army Corps in Vittorio Veneto, to be able to circumvent NATO’s chain of command in case a war should break out between Italy and Yugoslavia for the Free Territory of Trieste.
    • Later in 1952 the army also raised the VI Army Corps in Bologna, followed by the III Army Corps in Milan in 1957, both of which were also assigned to the Third Army.
  • With the easing of tensions between Italy and Yugoslavia, the Third Army, along with VI Army Corps, was disbanded on 01 April 1972, and its functions were taken over by NATO’s Allied Forces Southern Europe in Verona.
  • The most significant reorganisation of the Italian Army took place in 1975, when the regimental level was abolished and battalions came under direct command of newly formed multi-arms brigades.
    • Another 7 major reforms have occurred between 1975 and 2023, which has witnessed the disbandment of units and formations, and the continued reduction in personnel.
  • The Italian Army has not engaged in major combat operations since World War II. However, Italian Special Forces have taken part in anti-Taliban operations in Afghanistan as part of Task Force ‘Nibbio’.
    • Italy was not yet a member of the United Nations in 1950 at the time of the war with North Korea.
  • Italy did take part in the 1990-1991 Gulf War but solely through the deployment of eight Italian Air Force Panavia Tornado IDS bomber jets to Saudi Arabia; Italian Army troops were subsequently deployed to assist Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq following the conflict.

This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia articles < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_9_of_the_Japanese_Constitution >, < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Self-Defense_Forces >, < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Japanese_Armed_Forces >, < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_Japan >, < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Japan >, < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Law_for_the_Federal_Republic_of_Germany >, and < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Army#:~:text=After%20World%20War%20II%2C%20Germany,March%201956%20the%20East%20German >, < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Army >, < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Italian_Army_during_World_War_II >; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.


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