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
Nobuo Kishi 20200916.jpg
Nobuo Kishi

since September 16, 2020 (2020-09-16)
Ministry of Defense
StyleHis Excellency
StatusLeader and Chief executive
Member ofCabinet
National Security Council
Defense Council
Reports toThe Prime Minister
AppointerThe Prime Minister
subject to formal attestation by the Emperor
PrecursorDirector General of the Defense Agency
Inaugural holderFumio Kyuma
FormationJanuary 9, 2007; 14 years ago (2007-01-09)
DeputyAdministrative Vice-Minister of Defense

The Minister of Defense (防衛大臣, Bōei Daijin), or Bōei-shō (防衛相), is a member of the Japanese cabinet and is the leader and chief executive officer of the Japanese Ministry of Defense, the executive department of the Japanese Armed Forces. The minister of defense’s position of command and authority over the military is second only to that of the Prime Minister of Japan, who is the commander-in-chief. The minister of defense is appointed by the Prime Minister and is a member of the National Security Council. The current Minister of Defense is Nobuo Kishi, who took office on September 16, 2020.


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.[1] 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.[2] 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 of Defense with a ceremony that was attended by then Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and the then-new Minister of Defense Fumio Kyuma. The creation of the Ministry of Defense was in conjunction with Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's continued efforts to ensure a stronger image of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). The bill in which to upgrade the Defense Agency to the Ministry of Defense was approved by the House of Representatives (lower house) in November 2007, and the House of Councillors (upper house) in mid-December 2007. Minister Kyuma personally attended a session in the House of Councillors and gave a speech after the bill was approved.[3]

In light of the Defense Agency being transformed into the Ministry of Defense, the JSDF was given the responsibilities of international operations, disaster relief and peacekeeping within the overseas locations.

On 11 September 2019, Taro Kono became the first high profile 'prime minister-ready' politician to head the Ministry of Defense. He has the strongest LDP factional backing of any defense minister thus far. His social media following is second only to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He's a leading candidate for post-Abe premiership. Kono previously held the prominent role of foreign minister.[4]

Chain of command

  • 1. Prime Minister
  • 2. Minister of Defense
  • 3. Chief of Staff, Joint Staff


The Commander-in-Chief 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.

List of Ministers of Defense (2007–)


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 Tomomi Inada 20161027.jpg Tomomi Inada August 3, 2016 July 28, 2017 359
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 October 2, 2018 425
16 Acting Secretary of Defense meets with Minister of Defense of Japan 190419-D-HA938-101 (cropped).jpg Takeshi Iwaya October 2, 2018 September 11, 2019 344
17 Taro Kono Kantei Photo.jpg Tarō Kōno September 11, 2019 September 16, 2020 371
18 Nobuo Kishi 20200916.jpg Nobuo Kishi September 16, 2020 Incumbent 447 Yoshihide Suga
Fumio Kishida

Allied occupation of Japan

Following the end of World War II, the Armed Forces of the Empire of Japan were disbanded and US forces took control. From 1950 to 1952, the National Police Reserve led by Minister of State Takeo Ōhashi was formed. It was renamed as the National Safety Force in 1952. In 1952, the Coastal Safety Force, the waterborne counterpart of the National Police Reserve, was founded and led by the Commissioner of the Coastal Safety Force (保安庁長官) Tokutarō Kimura.

Director general of the Defense Agency

These are the director generals of the Defense Agency. It is the predecessor of the Ministry of Defense which was established on 9 January 2007.

Ministers with military experience

Although Article 68 of the Constitution states that all members of the Cabinet must be civilians, former military persons may be appointed Minister of Defense.

See also

Previous positions that covered the role of the Minister of Defense:


  1. ^ "Japan creates defense ministry". BBC News. December 15, 2006.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Michael Macarthur Bosack (October 17, 2019). "Taro Kono: A different kind of defense minister". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on December 10, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  • "Library of Congress Country Studies", JAPAN, The Defense Agency. [1]. Retrieved 18 July 2010.