TOKYO - Japan launched a full-fledged defense ministry
for the first time since its World War II defeat, when the United States
stripped the country of its right to a military.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe handed a letter of appointment to defense chief
Fumio Kyuma, upgrading his status from the head of the defense agency to a
A Japanese soldier is seen in Iraq in 2004. Japan launched a
full-fledged defense ministry for the first time since its World War II
defeat, when the United States stripped the country of its right to a
The creation of the defense ministry was a top priority for Abe. The Diet, or
parliament, passed the required legislation late December with support from both
the ruling coalition and main opposition.
Besides symbolism, the ministry has more power than the previous defense
agency because it can submit its own budget requests.
Overseas activity is also included in the ministry as one of its missions.
Until now, deployments abroad were considered "extraordinary", leading the
government to seek parliamentary approval.
Japanese troops are still called the "Self-Defense Force" despite the
creation of the ministry.
Abe is scheduled to give a speech at a ceremony to be held at the new
ministry before leaving for his first trip to Europe since taking the office in
The defense agency had a lower standing than full-fledged ministries as
Japan's 1947 constitution declared the country to be