The bilateral defense agreement lays down a set of rules for joint operations between the US Military and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF). The last time the agreement was revised was in 1997, and the SDF’s role was limited to protecting the US military only when it was acting in Tokyo’s defense and only within the Japan’s geographic vicinity.
In a joint press conference in Tokyo, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani announced that a revision of the bilateral agreement would give the SDF a greater range of circumstances and wider geographical scope in which to militarily support and protect the US. If the agreement is approved, the SDF would therefore be able to act when US forces are threatened by a third country, even if the American military is not acting in defense of Japan at the time.
According to Carter, the updated rules will “transform the US-Japan alliance” and allow the two countries to “cooperate seamlessly” in response to challenges around the world.
Tokyo and Washington have been wary of Beijing’s increasing military build-up and growing influence in the region. Japan is locked in a territorial dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea. The US, also concerned about China’s growing influence in the region, views the revised rules as a way of granting Tokyo additional leverage in resolving the dispute with Beijing.
Full article: Japan to the Rescue? New Deal Allows Tokyo to Defend US Forces Worldwide (Sputnik News)