The ballistic missile defence (bmd) has been promoted as a means to counter the security concern posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes. While these could threaten Japan in theory, the likelihood of an attack by North Korea is negligible as the consequences of such an action would compromise the survival of the North Korean regime. 

Conversely, an exaggerated response to North Korea’s missile programme increases the risk of even further unpredictable provocations by North Korea.

Other regional actors, especially China and even Russia, may counter Japan’s increased defence readiness with even greater military presence in the region, leading to an exacerbation of regional tension. 

bmd, and intensified defence measures at large, will contribute to a perpetuation of rivalry between Japan and its East Asian neighbours, restricting Japan’s diplomatic manoeuvrability and reducing its future policy options towards consolidating a regional security architecture. 

bmd should not be seen as a test case in the validity and future integrity of the us-Japanese defence alliance. Disparate political and cultural traditions aside, shared economic interests and values suffice to ensure the continuity of the alliance, which is not as fragile as recent media reports have suggested.

Kristian Kurki
Kristian Kurki