On paper, Japan is a pacifist nation. It ranks 6th on the Global Peace Index, a list tabulated by peace activists at Vision of Humanity. Japan’s constitution makes illegal a traditional standing army. But a recently published defense white paper shows the extent to which the country has one of the most well-equipped “invisible” armies in the world.

FORTUNE — On paper, Japan is a pacifist nation. It ranks 6th on the Global Peace Index, a list tabulated by peace activists at Vision of Humanity. Japan’s constitution makes illegal a traditional standing army. But a recently published defense white paper shows the extent to which the country has one of the most well-equipped “invisible” armies in the world.

Japan’s armed forces are euphemistically dubbed the “Self Defense Force” (SDF) — officially it’s an extension of the police.
But with the world’s 6th best-equipped troops and a nearly $60 billion defense budget last year, the SDF is not composed of your average beat cops. “Japan enjoyed an isolationist status until now,” says Narushige Michishita, a past adviser to Tokyo on defense and now director of the security and international program at Tokyo’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. “It was very convenient; we didn’t have to get involved in conflicts. But now the U.S. wants Japan to be more proactive,” he says.

Source: Fortune | Michael Fitzpatrick