Djibouti and beyond: Japan’s first post-war overseas base and the recalibration of risk in securing enhanced military capabilities

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Having passed successive legislation in the past two decades to expand its use of the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF), Japan has emerged from its post-war ‘pacifist’ shackles to assume a range of security roles that are typically associated with so-called ‘normal nations’. This article addresses how these have been crystallized in the form of an indefinitely-termed overseas base on the Horn of Africa, in Djibouti. Careful examination of pertaining Diet minutes, media discourse and government ministry papers suggests that the risks identified with this facility’s realization and status have been fundamentally recalibrated, allowing its presence and operational diversification to go largely unnoticed and unopposed – both domestically and overseas – despite representing a seemingly radical departure from common sense interpretations of Japan’s antimilitarist constitution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-357
Number of pages19
JournalAsian Security
Issue number3
Early online date6 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Djibouti
  • Institutional change
  • JSDF
  • Risk recalibration
  • Security policy

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