INTERNATIONAL

U.S., Japan agree on new defence rules

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Matsuzaki arrive at the site of the Boston Marathon Bombings before placing a wreath on Monday. Abe was visiting Boston ahead of a meeting with President Barack Obamaon Tuesday and a speech to Congress on Wednesday.— PHOTO: AFP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Matsuzaki arrive at the site of the Boston Marathon Bombings before placing a wreath on Monday. Abe was visiting Boston ahead of a meeting with President Barack Obamaon Tuesday and a speech to Congress on Wednesday.— PHOTO: AFP  

Concern over China’s increasing power provided the main impetus for the move

The United States and Japan unveiled new rules for defence cooperation Monday in a historic move that will give Japanese armed forces a more ambitious global role amid concerns over China’s rising sway.

Under the revised guidelines, Japan could come to the aid of U..S forces threatened by a third country or, for example, deploy minesweeper ships to a mission in the Middle East.

New doctrine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani revealed the new rules after talks in a New York hotel.

Although officials said the new doctrine is not aimed at China, there has been increasing concern over moves by Beijing to try to scoop up disputed areas of the South China and East China Seas.

But they pointedly made mention of North Korea as another source of tension in the region.

Mr. Kerry stressed that the United States saw the disputed Senkaku islands, known in Chinese as the Diaoyus, as firmly under Japan’s control.

Washington’s “commitment to Japan’s security remains ironclad and covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku islands,” Mr. Kerry said. The sovereignty of the isles have been the source of friction between Tokyo and Beijing for decades.

The guidelines came a day before U.S. President Barack Obama rolls out the red carpet at the White House for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a high-profile visit.

Reinterpretation

Under the previous rules, Japanese forces could assist American troops only if they were operating in the direct defence of Japan.

The amended guidelines were drawn up to reflect a reinterpretation of Japan’s Constitution by Mr. Abe’s government last year, which allows for “collective defence.”



The new defence guidelines are part of Mr. Abe’s bid to soften Japan’s constitutional commitment to pacifism.

Tokyo’s readiness to embrace what Mr. Abe calls “proactive pacifism” comes amid growing anxiety in Japan and across Asia over China’s rising military and economic might. — AFP

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