Japan seeks bigger role in US defense partnership

Featured Japan - January 6th, 2013

Tokyo and Washington are set to agree on a broader defense partnership between the Self-Defense Forces and the US military, as well as a bigger role for the SDF, amid President Barack Obama’s “strategic pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific region.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to rebuild the alliance and redefine the role of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to allow deployment overseas.

The two leaders are expected to agree on the new guidelines during a summit later this month aimed at strengthening bilateral security alliance, reports The Nikkei.

Cooperation between the SDF and US military will expand to disaster readiness and relief, maritime security, space defense and cybersecurity, as well as support for democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa.

But expanding the SDF cooperation with the US military will raise sensitive issues on Japan’s pacifist constitution even as it seeks to re-arm in the face of mounting tensions in the region over territorial disputes.

Mr. Abe has called for revising the postwar “peace constitution” to enable Japan to shoulder more of its own defense or come to the aid of a US warship under attack.