Asia Equations: US Japan Defense Guidelines ‘Break New Ground’ Says Carter

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New York – American and Japanese national security leaders unveiled the new guidelines for US-Japan defense cooperation today, saying the new rules will promote peace and stability not only in the region, but worldwide.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida and Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani announced the results of the Security Consultative Committee meeting here today.

Known as the “2-plus-2” meetings, the discussions covered all aspects of the US-Japanese alliance, but the revision of the defense guidelines — the first since 1997 — took precedence.

The guidelines lay out how the United States and Japan will work together, and come after the Japanese government reinterpreted their constitution to allow a greater international role, including greater military cooperation.

Japanese leaders see the guidelines as strengthening the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. “Though we live in different hemispheres, at opposite ends of the globe, the United States could ask for no better friend and ally than Japan,” Kerry said during a news conference.

He added that the US alliance with Japan has been the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in Asia since the end of World War II.

“The guidelines will enhance Japan’s security, deter threats and contribute to regional peace and stability,” the secretary of state said. “The United States and Japan stand together in calling for disputes in the region to be resolved peacefully. We reject any suggestion that freedom of navigation, overflight and other lawful uses of the sea and airspace are privileges granted by big states to small ones.”

Guidelines Fit Japan’s Expanded Role

Carter stressed that the revisions were a necessary process, given how much has changed in the world since 1997. Both the United States and Japan have new capabilities, and new threats have emerged, including a whole new domain of warfare in cyberspace, he said.

“The Asia-Pacific region has changed,” the defense secretary said. “Its weight in world affairs has increased, and that is reflected in the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific including its expression in our own defense capabilities.”

Carter noted that Japan is taking on a bigger role in world affairs. “These guidelines allow us to modernize the US-Japan alliance at the same time, by breaking new ground on existing areas of military cooperation and helping us open new areas of military cooperation both in the Asia-Pacific and around the globe,” he said.

Carter and Nakatani will continue their consultations in Washington tomorrow with discussion on establishing a bilateral space cooperation working group. “The approval of the defense guidelines mark an important step in the rebalance’s next phase,” Carter said. “There will be many more.”

Kishida said through an interpreter that the revisions reflect “the enhancement of solidarity and the expansion of cooperation between Japan and the United States.”

The guidelines are the logical outgrowth of Japan’s new policy of “proactive contribution to peace based on the principle of international cooperation and the rebalance policy on the US side,” the foreign minister said. “The new guidelines will enhance synergies of both policies.”

Other Business

Other business in the meetings included the US affirmation that the Senkaku Islands are territories of Japan and fall under the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.
They also stressed the importance of cooperation in ballistic missile defense. This includes basing two more US ballistic missile defense destroyers in Japan and continuing deployment of a second X-band radar in the country.

The two sides discussed ways to expand tri-lateral and multi-lateral cooperation. This includes Australia and South Korea and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The ministers also talked about the realignment of US forces based in Japan including relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the island of Okinawa.

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