Date
16 January 2017
US President Barack Obama (right) joins Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a visit to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on Monday. Photo: AFP
US President Barack Obama (right) joins Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a visit to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on Monday. Photo: AFP

New defense deal with US allows more assertive role for Japan

Japan and the United States have revised the guidelines on their defense cooperation ahead of talks between Japanese leader Shinzo Abe and American President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday.

The new guidelines allow Japan to take on a more assertive military role and clarify US support for its Asian ally, BBC News reported.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said US commitment to Japan’s defense was “ironclad”, and covers disputed islands.

Japan’s pacifist constitution currently allows only for self-defense, but Abe has called for a re-interpretation. Any change is likely to alarm Japan’s East Asian neighbors, the British broadcaster said.

“The guidelines that we have worked on that have been announced today will enhance Japan’s security, deter threats and contribute to regional peace and stability”, Kerry said after talks with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in New York.

“The United States and Japan stand together in calling for disputes in the region to be resolved peacefully.”

Kerry also renewed US security pledge over a group of islets known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. China has disputed Japan’s territorial claim to the islands.

The new guidelines are expected to reflect Japan’s position on its defense role which were outlined in a cabinet resolution last July. Any further military muscle for Japan would mean an overhaul of its constitution.

“The cabinet resolution and legislation being crafted now have gone right up to the limits of what is possible under the constitution as it is now,” Reuters quoted Hajime Funada, head of the Japanese ruling party’s panel on constitutional reform, as saying.

The US says that it would welcome a bigger role for Japan.

“We very much welcome the fact that Japan is looking to play a more constructive role in promoting peace and stability in the broader Asia-Pacific region,” US foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes told French news agency AFP.

“We believe that that dovetails very nicely with the US rebalance,” he said.

– Contact us at [email protected]

FL/CG

EJI Weekly Newsletter