In Japan will stand up to China, says PM Shinzo Abe, there's mention of Japanese plans to shoot down Chinese drones:

The statement was referring to reports that Mr Abe had approved defence plans that envisaged using air force planes to shoot down unmanned Chinese aircraft in Japanese airspace.

Under international law (as opposed to Japanese domestic law), is Japan allowed to shoot down drones that are within its own airspace? Or would it need to declare war first?

  • 8
    The question is missing some of the key context of the underlying report: The Japanese and Chinese airspace overlap due to disputed islands between the two countries. Hence the reason for the rhetoric on both sides. Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 21:47
  • What International law are you asking about? The UN, the Japanese Instrument of Surrender or something else? Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 21:11
  • @Chad the UN. The rhetoric of China is that Japan is doing something that's wrong, not that it's violating agreements specific to Japan.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 21:25
  • I think you should update your question to address what ever mechinism you think should be used by the UN to address Japanese military action against a foriegn military asset.Though knowing china they are civilian drones trying to help build schools for children. Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 2:41
  • @Chad if there's no UN mechanism against Japan shooting down Chinese drones, then just say so as an answer.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 3:46

1 Answer 1


Yes, Japan can shoot down drones in defense of their country. Japan, is not allowed to grow a military force for offensive procedures, but can maintain a military for defensive reasons. This was in the surrender during WW2.

So yes, Japan can shoot down drones in their own airspace.

  • 4
    This is correct, but the actual situation is a bit more complicated because there are disputes regarding where the borders between Chinese and Japanese airspace are.
    – Philipp
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 11:31
  • @Philipp: Throwing shade is not a dispute.
    – Joshua
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 16:42

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