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New Japanese security laws under fire

By Ryan Maass
New Japanese security laws under fire
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the upper house special committee for the security-related bills in Tokyo, Japan on August 21, 2015. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

TOKYO, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- New Japanese laws reversing the nation's status as a pacifist nation have been met with skepticism, however U.S. experts say there is little reason to expect the Self-Defense Forces to be used overseas any time soon.

Sheila Smith, a senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council of Foreign Relations, says Japan is facing little pressure to utilize their armed forces abroad.

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"I don't think there's anybody here in Washington who is urging Japan or its military to use force in other countries," Smith said in a statement, "there is a lack of confidence."

The new laws give Japan the ability to use its defense force overseas, even if the country itself is not under attack. This marks the first time Japan has been allowed to expand its security use beyond its own borders in 70 years. Japan was barred from doing so since the close of World War II.

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Despite over half a century of constitutional limitations, Japan can boast for having the world's ninth largest armed forces, including the fifth largest air fleet, and the fourth largest navy. The Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF, or SDF) is organized into three branches: the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, the Japanese Martime Self-Defense Force, and the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force.

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The armed force is supplied in part by contractors from The United States, The United Kingdom, The Philippines, Germany, and a number of others. The JSDF has an annual budget of about $280 billion.

The new laws were pushed through by Japan's center-right Liberal Democratic Party, and endorsed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Prime Minister Abe cited new security concerns such as Chinese militarism, North Korean threats, and violence against Japanese nationals by the Islamic State.

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