UPPING U.S.-JAPAN DEFENSES
New defense guidelines outlining cooperation between the U.S. and Japanese militaries will give a greater role to Tokyo in conducting regional military activities, and boost intelligence-sharing and joint efforts to counter cyber and space threats, according to a an interim report on the guidelines made public Wednesday.
The report on the revised U.S.-Japan defense guidelines makes no direct mention of the threat to Japan from China. However, U.S. officials said China is Tokyo’s most immediate regional threat, followed by North Korea.
China has sharply increased military activities and political rhetoric against Japan over the East China Sea’s Senkaku Islands, which Tokyo owns and Beijing claims as its territory.
China’s naval and maritime police forces have sought to exert control over the islets, and U.S. officials fear the dispute could lead to armed conflict.
According to the report, the guidelines, when formally approved by the end of the year, will “enable the two countries to make expanded contributions to international peace and security.”
The guidelines were last updated in 1997, and the current effort is part of the Obama administration’s so-called pivot to Asia that has included mainly nonmilitary elements as a result of the current defense spending crisis.
“Looking to the future, the revised guidelines will update the general framework and policy direction for the roles and missions of the two countries, as well as ways of cooperation and coordination,” the report says.
The Obama administration invoked the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty last year in warning China not to threaten Japan over control of the Senkakus.
The new guidelines will improve defense planning between the two militaries and expand the alliances to include multinational security and defense cooperation.
Among the areas where the guidelines will produce greater cooperation are intelligence-sharing, training and exercises, uses of facilities, logistics, air and missile defenses, and maritime security.
In response to growing threats from space and cyberspace, the guidelines will outline efforts to strengthen the stability in those areas.
“Cooperation on space will include sharing information about actions and events that might impede the safe and stable use of space and cooperative ways to build space resiliency,” the report said. “Cooperation on cyberspace will include sharing information from peacetime to contingencies about cyber threats and vulnerabilities as well as strengthening cyber security for mission assurance.”
China is developing several space warfare capabilities including anti-satellite missiles and lasers. Beijing’s cyber warfare capabilities also are advanced.
“This interim report indicates that Tokyo and Washington are updating alliance cooperation to better meet threats from China and North Korea,” said Rick Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.
“However, it appears that Washington will carry the major burden for ‘offensive’ operations, which are really ‘defensive’ in the face of a looming or a first strike, and Japan should have a better regional ‘offensive’ capability,” Mr. Fisher added.
Also extending alliance defense and security cooperation to countries closely aligned with Japan is very positive, indicating Japan could play a role in the defense of South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan, Mr. Fisher added.