Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (the LDP) won a decisive victory in snap elections held in December 2014. One of the reasons for holding early elections was Abe’s desire to amend Japan’s ‘peace Constitution’ so that in future it expressly permits the country’s armed forces to come to the aid of allies under attack. This is known in Japan as the right of ‘collective self-defence’. In mid- 2014 the Japanese Cabinet approved interpreting the Constitution in this way. Abe is now seeking to give this new interpretation legal and constitutional underpinning. Important as it is, amending Article 9 of the Constitution is just one part of Abe’s plans on the defence and security front. Japan is now looking to enhance its defence capabilities so that it can play a greater role in promoting international “peace, stability and prosperity”. It will also increase its ability to respond effectively to any attack on the Senkaku Islands (as Japan calls them) in the East China Sea.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be the new multirole fast jet for the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. It will serve as the strike capability for the new Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier and will partner the Typhoon to form the future fast jet fleet for the RAF. There are three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter. The Government attracted criticism for its decision in 2010 to select a different variant to that originally chosen by the previous Government, and again for reverting back to the original choice two years later.