Minister of Defense (Japan)

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Minister of Defense of Japan
Standard of the Minister of Defence of Japan.svg
Standard of the Minister of Defense
Minister of Defense for Japan Itsunori Onodera in Washington, D.C., August 17, 2017 (36238435810) (cropped).jpg
Itsunori Onodera

since August 3, 2017
Ministry of Defense
Style His Excellency
Member of Cabinet
Reports to The Prime Minister
Appointer The Prime Minister
Term length No fixed term
Inaugural holder Fumio Kyuma
Formation 9 January 2007
Deputy Vice Minister of Defense

The Minister of Defense (防衛大臣, Bōei Daijin), or Bōei-shō (防衛相), is the Cabinet of Japan member in charge of the Ministry of Defense, known as the Defense Agency before 2007. The current Japanese Minister of Defense is Itsunori Onodera.

On 26 December 2007, the government of Japan made the decision to upgrade its Defense Agency to the "Ministry of Defense" in the expectation to have a far-reaching effect on Japan's future military development. The defense policy that has been pursued by Japan is based on the "Basic Policy for National Defense", which was adopted by the Cabinet in May 1957. Japan's main goal of national defense is the prevention of indirect as well as direct aggression from outside enemies.


The Japanese government made the upgrade from the Defense Agency to the Ministry with a ceremony that was attended by then Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and the new Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma. The creation of a Defense Minister was in conjunction with Prime Minister Abe’s continued efforts to ensure a stronger image of the Japanese military. The bill in which to upgrade the Defense Agency to the Defense Ministry was approved by the Lower House in November 2007 and the Upper House in mid-December 2007. In the light of Defense Agency being transformed into the Ministry of Defense, the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) was given the responsibilities of international operations, disaster relief and peacekeeping within the overseas locations.

Defense Industry[edit]

In July 1970, Director General of the Defense Agency Yasuhiro Nakasone established five directives for the defense industry:

1. Maintaining the industry base for national security for Japan. 2. To obtain equipment from Japan’s domestic development, production and research efforts. 3. To use the civilian sector for the production of arms domestically. 4. To set long-term goals for production, development, and research. 5. Become competitive in the defense production field.

By the late 1970s, Japan had received suppliers who developed and began production on a range of modernized equipment including artillery, tanks, aircraft, and major surface and underwater naval combatants. In the late 1980s efforts had been implemented to facilitate an efficient command policy, which would be able to be implemented, in the event of a crisis. The government of Japan had maintained the main principles that their military action would only be authorized by the hand of the civilians.

In October 1985, the Defense Agency began the consideration of three development options for the FSX; adoption of a foreign model, keeping an existing model, or domestic development. The agency had initially leaned towards the domestic development, however, in late 1986, the United States persuaded them to create a co-production agreement.

In October 1987, the US and Japanese officials met and decided on a joint project to remodel the F-15.

Chain of command[edit]

  • 1. Prime Minister
  • 2. Minister of Defense
  • 3. Chief of Staff, Joint Staff
  • 4. Chief of Staff of the JGSDF
  • 5. Chief of Staff of the JMSDF
  • 6. Chief of Staff of the JASDF


The Supreme Commander of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), who does not formally constitute a uniformed military, is the Prime Minister. The Emperor of Japan is a constitutional monarch who does not have political or military authority over the JSDF; that authority rests with the Prime Minister. However, it is important to note that the Emperor formally appoints the Prime Minister to office. The Minister of Defense is responsible for the organization and formulating the national security policy. The budget request is drafted by the Ministry of Finance and making its own legislative proposals to the National Diet.

The Minister of Defense is advised on every concern related to the duties of the Japan Self-Defense Forces by the Chief of Staff, Joint Staff.

Ministers of Defense[edit]


Minister of Defense Term of office Prime Minister
# Portrait Name Took Office Left Office Days
1 Fumio Kyuma in Pentagon.jpg Fumio Kyuma January 9, 2007 July 4, 2007 176 Shinzō Abe
2 Yuriko Koike, Aug. 17, 2007.jpg Yuriko Koike July 4, 2007 August 27, 2007 54
3 Komura Masahiko 1-3.jpg Masahiko Kōmura August 27, 2007 September 26, 2007 30
4 Gates meets Ishiba 8 November 2007 cropped for Ishiba.jpg Shigeru Ishiba September 26, 2007 August 2, 2008 311 Yasuo Fukuda
5 Y. Hayashi.png Yoshimasa Hayashi August 2, 2008 September 24, 2008 53
6 Hamada Yasukazu 1-3.jpg Yasukazu Hamada September 24, 2008 September 16, 2009 357 Taro Aso
7 Toshimi Kitazawa Oct. 21, 2009.jpg Toshimi Kitazawa September 16, 2009 September 2, 2011 716 Yukio Hatoyama
Naoto Kan
8 Minister Ichikawa.jpg Yasuo Ichikawa September 2, 2011 January 13, 2012 133 Yoshihiko Noda
9 Naoki Tanaka-1.jpg Naoki Tanaka January 13, 2012 June 4, 2012 143
10 Satoshi Morimoto at the Pentagon August 3, 2012 crop.jpg Satoshi Morimoto June 4, 2012 December 26, 2012 205
11 Defense Minister Onodera.jpg Itsunori Onodera December 26, 2012 September 3, 2014 616 Shinzō Abe
12 Akinori Eto.jpg Akinori Eto September 3, 2014 December 24, 2014 112
13 Gen Nakatani 4 Apr 2007 without US flag.jpg Gen Nakatani December 24, 2014 August 3, 2016 588
14 The mission of forward-deployed naval forces during a tour of (29128015221) cropped.jpg Tomomi Inada August 3, 2016 July 28, 2017 359
15 Fumio Kishida Minister.jpg Fumio Kishida July 28, 2017 August 3, 2017 6
Minister of Defense for Japan Itsunori Onodera in Washington, D.C., August 17, 2017 (36238435810) (cropped).jpg Itsunori Onodera August 3, 2017 Incumbent 129


  • “Library of Congress Country Studies”. JAPAN, The Defense Agency. [1]. Retrieved 18 July 2010.

Zhongguo, T. (27 December 2006) LexusNexis Academic, Japan’s upgrade of Defense Agency paves way to military power – HK-based agency. Retrieved 16 July 2010. “Library of Congress Country Studies”. JAPAN, The Defense Industry. [2]. Retrieved 18 July 2010. (10 January 2007) LexusNexus Academic, Defense Agency upgraded to Ministry. Retrieved 16 July 2010.