Photo Credit: DW.DE

TÖKYÖ — The following is a chronology of major events related to Japan’s security policy.

  • August 1945: Japan surrenders unconditionally in World War II after U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • May 1947: War-renouncing constitution goes into effect.
  • June 1950: Korean War breaks out.
  • September 1951: Japan signs San Francisco Peace Treaty, Japan-U.S. security treaty.
  • July 1954: Defense Agency established. Self-Defense Forces inaugurated.
  • December 1956: Japan joins United Nations.
  • January 1960: Japan, U.S. sign revised security treaty.
  • June 1960: Revised Japan-U.S. security treaty, Status-of-Forces Agreement take effect.
  • December 1967: Prime Minister Eisaku Sato announces “three non-nuclear principles.”
  • May 1972: Okinawa returns to Japanese sovereignty.
  • April 1975: Vietnam War ends.
  • November 1978: Guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation decided.
  • May 1981: Japan-U.S. joint declaration refers to bilateral ties as “alliance.” Japanese government says collective self-defense not allowed under constitution.
  • January 1987: Special agreement on Japan’s cost sharing for U.S. forces in Japan signed.
  • November 1989: Cold War ends with the bringing down of the Berlin Wall.
  • January 1991: Gulf War begins.
  • April 1991: Marine sweepers leave for Persian Gulf in first self-defense forces overseas dispatch.
  • June 1992: International Peace Cooperation Law enacted.
  • July 1994: Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama declares constitutionality of SDF, shows determination to maintain Japan-U.S. security treaty, marking policy turn for his socialist party.
  • September 1995: Elementary schoolgirl raped by three U.S. servicemen in Okinawa.
  • April 1996: Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security announced. Japan, U.S. agree on return of land occupied by U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa.
  • September 1997: New guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation decided.
  • August 1998: North Korea test-fires Taepodong-1 ballistic missile.
  • May 1999: Emergency-at-periphery law enacted.
  • September 2001: Terrorists attack World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
  • October 2001: Anti-terrorism special measures law enacted, paving path for SDF’s refueling mission.
  • March 2003: Iraq War starts.
  • June 2003: Three laws to deal with armed attacks enacted.
  • January 2004: Japan sends SDF to Iraq.
  • May 2006: Japan, U.S. agree on roadmap for realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including relocation of Futenma facility.
  • September 2006: Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s prime minister.
  • October 2006: North Korea conducts first underground nuclear test.
  • January 2007: Defense Agency upgraded to Defense Ministry.
  • April 2008: High court rules SDF dispatch to Iraq unconstitutional.
  • January 2009: President Barack Obama inaugurated.
  • September 2009: Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama assumes office.
  • January 2010: Japan ends refueling mission in Indian Ocean.
  • April 2012: Liberal Democratic Party adopts draft constitution, calls SDF “Defense Forces.”
  • December 2012: Abe takes office for second time.
  • December 2013: Japan launches National Security Council, adopts overarching national security policy.
  • April 2014: Japan adopts new guidelines on defense equipment.
  • May 15, 2014: Abe says Japan will study limited use of collective self-defense based on proposals from expert panel.


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