TOKYO (AP) – Japan and the United States are revising their mutual defence guidelines for the first time in nearly two decades to respond to China’s military expansion and increase Japan’s role in regional defence.
An interim report released Wednesday says the US and Japan are pursuing a wider partnership that requires “enhanced capabilities and greater shared responsibilities”.
The revision, the first since 1997, comes at a time of heightened Japan-China tensions over islands claimed by both countries in the East China Sea, as well as continuing concern about North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development.
“What we need to address today is quite different from what we were aiming for in 1997,” Koji Kano, a Defence Ministry official in the Japan-US cooperation division, told reporters earlier this week.
“The point is how Japan and the US can respond better in the current environment.”
The revised guidelines will factor in policy changes under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that enable Japan to shoulder more responsibility for its own and regional defence, and relieve some of America’s military burden in the Asia-Pacific region.
China said it would closely watch the new guidelines and warned that they should not infringe on its interests.