August 5, 2013
“Japan is back!” Prime Minister Abe Shinzo confidently announced during his visit to the United States in February 2013. In a widely publicized speech at the Pacific Forum, Abe repeated his administration’s promises to revamp Japanese society and its standing among nations. While the economy is his top priority, his vision for Japan also rests upon a strong national defense (kuni no mamori). As a result, recent increases in the defense budget – the first in a decade – have led to speculation that a sustained economic recovery could drive further, more dramatic increases in spending. Nevertheless, there remains little evidence that this will actually take place.