Limited by military restrictions since the end of World War II, the Japanese parliament is now considering new guidelines which would allow it to expand further into international waters. The move is fully supported by the US, which hopes Japan can play a larger role in curtailing a growing Chinese influence.
Tensions have steadily risen between Tokyo and Beijing over a group of largely uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Both nations claim ownership, and the islands overlook major shipping lanes in the Pacific Ocean, which means the United States has an indirect interest, as well.
A growing Chinese military presence in these waters has brought a new set of guidelines before the Japanese parliament, aimed at strengthening the country’s collective self-defense. A plan that has Washington’s full support.
Vice Admiral Robert Thomas, commander of the US Seventh Fleet, hopes these new guidelines will allow for “multilateral exercises across the region.”
Japan is planning on adding F-35 stealth fighter jets to its air defense system, as well as Global Hawk drones. The military also wants to set up its own amphibious assault unit, similar to the US Marine Corp. This division would be capable of acting quickly if the Senkakus were invaded.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long advocated for expanding Japan’s military capabilities. While the island disputes have been one flashpoint, the beheading of two Japanese nationalists in January by the self-proclaimed Islamic State has also pushed Abe’s drive to develop stronger defenses.
Full article: US Pushes Japan to Take Stronger Military Role in Pacific (Sputnik News)