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Japan Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF): Ground Self-Defense Force (Rikujou Jieitai, GSDF; includes aviation), Maritime Self-Defense Force (Kaijou Jieitai, MSDF; includes naval aviation), Air Self-Defense Force (Koukuu Jieitai, ASDF) (2024)

note: the Coast Guard is under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; it is barred by law from operating as a military force, but in times of conflict Article 80 of the 1954 Self-Defense Forces Act permits the transfer of control of the coast guard to the Ministry of Defense with Cabinet approval

Military expenditures

1.4% of GDP (2024 est.)
1.3% of GDP (2023)
1.1% of GDP (2022)
1% of GDP (2021)
1% of GDP (2020)

note: the Japanese Government in 2022 pledged to increase defense expenditures to 2% of GDP in line with NATO standards by March 2028; if the planned increase occurs, Japan would have the world's third largest defense budget

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 230-240,000 active personnel (145-150,000 Ground; 40-45,000 Maritime; 40-45,000 Air); 14,000 Coast Guard (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the JSDF is equipped with a mix of imported and domestically produced equipment; Japan has a robust defense industry and is capable of producing a wide range of air, ground, and naval weapons systems; the majority of its weapons imports are from the US and some domestically produced weapons are US-origin and manufactured under license (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-32 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription (2023)

note: as of 2023, women made up about 9% of the military's full-time personnel

Military deployments

approximately 200 Djibouti (2023)

Military - note

the Japan Self-Defense Force's (JSDF) primary concerns are perceived threats posed by China and North Korea, as well as protecting the country’s territorial waters, countering piracy and terrorism, and conducting humanitarian operations; it exercises regularly with the US military and increasingly with other regional countries, such as Australia; the ground forces are organized into 10 divisions and a number of independent brigades, which include airborne, air assault, and amphibious rapid reaction forces; the maritime force is one of the largest and most modern navies in the world; its principal warships include four helicopter carriers (two are undergoing conversion to light aircraft carriers), more than 40 destroyers and frigates, three landing platform/dock (LPD) amphibious assault ships, and more than 20 attack-type submarines; it also has a large force of maritime aircraft, including over 150 for anti-submarine warfare; the Air Self Defense Force has over 300 modern combat aircraft, as well as more than 200 other aircraft for surveillance, early warning, electronic warfare, search and rescue, transportation, and logistics

Japan’s alliance with the US (signed in 1951) is one of the cornerstones of the country’s security, as well as a large component of the US security role in Asia; approximately 55,000 US troops and other military assets, including aircraft and naval ships, are stationed in Japan and have exclusive use of more than 80 bases and facilities; in exchange for their use, the US guarantees Japan’s security; the Japanese Government provides about $2 billion per year to offset the cost of stationing US forces in Japan; in addition, it pays compensation to localities hosting US troops, rent for bases, and costs for new facilities to support the US presence; Japan also has Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status with the US, a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation

Japan was disarmed after its defeat in World War II; shortly after the Korean War began in 1950, US occupation forces in Japan created a 75,000-member lightly armed force called the National Police Reserve; the JSDF was founded in 1954; Article 9 of Japan’s 1947 constitution renounced the use of force as a means of settling international disputes; however, Japan has interpreted Article 9 to mean that it can maintain a military for national defense purposes and, since 1991, has allowed the JSDF to participate in noncombat roles overseas in a number of UN peacekeeping missions and in the US-led coalition in Iraq; in 2014-2015, the Japanese Government reinterpreted the constitution as allowing for "collective self-defense," described as the use of force on others’ behalf if Japan’s security was threatened; in 2022, the government released three security policy documents that labeled China as an “unprecedented strategic challenge,” declared Japan’s intention to develop "counterstrike” capabilities, including cruise missiles and armed drones, and outlined plans to increase Japan’s security-related expenditures to 2% of its national gross domestic product (GDP), in line with NATO standards; post-war Japan generally has limited defense spending to 1% of its GDP (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Japan on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Japan 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Japan 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.