Japan defense forces to ramp up support of American military
TOKYO -- Japan's Self-Defense Forces will provide more support to the U.S. military, including protecting American ships, under revised defense guidelines the two countries are negotiating.
An interim report on the revision was issued Wednesday at a meeting of senior foreign affairs and defense officials from both countries.
The new guidelines aim to reflect new threats posed by China's military expansion and maritime ambitions, as well as respond to America's strategic "rebalancing" toward Asia. North Korean nuclear missile development and the military use of space and cyberspace will also be incorporated.
The interim report calls for seamless defense cooperation from peacetime to emergencies. This marks a clear departure from the current guidelines, which spell out Japanese and American responsibilities separately for three circumstances: peacetime, contingencies in areas surrounding Japan, and emergencies involving Japan.
The existing guidelines cover cooperation in such fields as information collection, monitoring, reconnaissance, and facilities usage. The new ones will add protection of assets, such as American ships on guard against ballistic missiles; maritime security, which includes mine removal in sea lanes during a conflict; and air and missile defense.
Back in July, the cabinet reinterpreted the Japanese constitution to let the country exercise the right to collective self-defense. The revised guidelines will reflect this by outlining cooperation in cases where Japan can use force when an ally is under attack. Details will be included in the final report.
By stating that Japan and the U.S. will work together for global peace and security, the revised guidelines will make clear that they will cooperate even in situations not directly linked to Japanese security. The partners hope to revise the guidelines by the end of the year.
The guidelines were created in 1978 to deal with a possible attack by the Soviet Union and revised in 1997 in response to possible hostilities on the Korean Peninsula.