Minister of Defense (Japan)

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. The current Minister of Defense is Tarō Kōno.

Minister of Defense of Japan
Standard of the Minister of Defense
Tarō Kōno

since 11 September 2019
Ministry of Defense
StyleHis Excellency
Member ofCabinet
National Security Council
Defense Council
Reports toThe Prime Minister
AppointerThe Prime Minister
attested to by the Emperor
Term lengthNo fixed term
Inaugural holderFumio Kyuma
Formation9 January 2007
DeputyState Minister of Defense
Parliamentary Vice-Ministers of Defense
Administrative Vice-Minister of Defense


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 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. 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.

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.

Ministers of Defense


Minister of Defense Term of office Prime Minister
# Portrait Name Took Office Left Office Days
1 Fumio Kyuma January 9, 2007 July 4, 2007 176 Shinzō Abe
2 Yuriko Koike July 4, 2007 August 27, 2007 54
3 Masahiko Kōmura August 27, 2007 September 26, 2007 30
4 Shigeru Ishiba September 26, 2007 August 2, 2008 311 Yasuo Fukuda
5 Yoshimasa Hayashi August 2, 2008 September 24, 2008 53
6 Yasukazu Hamada September 24, 2008 September 16, 2009 357 Taro Aso
7 Toshimi Kitazawa September 16, 2009 September 2, 2011 716 Yukio Hatoyama
Naoto Kan
8 Yasuo Ichikawa September 2, 2011 January 13, 2012 133 Yoshihiko Noda
9 Naoki Tanaka January 13, 2012 June 4, 2012 143
10 Satoshi Morimoto June 4, 2012 December 26, 2012 205
11 Itsunori Onodera December 26, 2012 September 3, 2014 616 Shinzō Abe
12 Akinori Eto September 3, 2014 December 24, 2014 112
13 Gen Nakatani December 24, 2014 August 3, 2016 588
14 Tomomi Inada August 3, 2016 July 28, 2017 359
Fumio Kishida
July 28, 2017 August 3, 2017 6
Itsunori Onodera August 3, 2017 October 2, 2018 425
16 Takeshi Iwaya October 2, 2018 September 11, 2019 344
17 Tarō Kōno September 11, 2019 Incumbent 86

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 despite the "civilian" requirement.

See also

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

  • Minister of War - created in 683 as Hyōseikan to administer military affairs, renamed as Hyōbu-shō in 702 and lasted to 1872; Ministers were either son or relative of the Emperor


  • "Library of Congress Country Studies", JAPAN, The Defense Agency. . 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. . Retrieved 18 July 2010. (10 January 2007) LexusNexus Academic, Defense Agency upgraded to Ministry. Retrieved 16 July 2010.

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