The military and politics

Authored by: Sven Saaler

Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138815186
eBook ISBN: 9781315746678
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the role of the military in modern Japan with a focus on civil–military relations. The armed forces were an extremely important factor in Japanese politics and society from the late nineteenth century to the end of the war in 1945. Under the conscription system, almost all young Japanese males served in the military at some point in their lives. In the first half of the twentieth century, the military developed into the dominant factor in politics. However, after Japan’s defeat in 1945, strong pacifist tendencies came to characterize society. Though military forces were re-established in 1954, they have kept a low profile because of their questionable status under Article 9 of the Constitution, which stipulates that armed forces ‘will never be maintained’. The current administration, however, has taken positive steps to raise the role of the military, in particular with respect to security policy.

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