Get ready, Japan: China’s ‘cruise missile carriers’ go on patrol

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) bomber force recently conducted exercises beyond “the first island chain” according to the Chinese defense ministry. Continue reading

Japan to play broader role under new defense guidelines

The US and Japan announced on Monday new guidelines for bilateral defense cooperation, allowing Japan’s self defense forces to take on a more ambitious global role that the Shinzo Abe administration has been seeking.

Under the new guidelines, revised for the first time since 1997, Japan will have the right to exercise collective self-defense and be able to defend other countries that may come under attack, said the US Defense Department in a news release. It also allows for increased regional and global cooperation in the US-Japanese alliance. Continue reading

PLA aircraft could threaten Guam, says analyst

Just as China-Japan relations had begun warming up, Japan reported on Dec. 6 that five Chinese military aircraft were observed flying over an area between Okinawa’s main island of Okinawa and Miyako island. The five aircraft are believed to have been capable of posing a threat to Guam, according to a military expert.

Chinese military commentator Li Xiaojian said the jets may have departed for the Western Pacific to take part in a large-scale naval and air combat exercise, in which Chinese naval ships also participated. This also signals that China has the joint combat capability of combining its naval and air power. Continue reading

Japan set for landmark easing of constitutional limits on military

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan is poised for a historic shift in its defense policy by ending a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since World War Two, a major step away from post-war pacifism and a big political victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The change will significantly widen Japan’s military options by ending the ban on exercising “collective self-defense”, or aiding a friendly country under attack. It will also relax limits on activities in U.N.-led peace-keeping operations and “grey zone” incidents short of full-scale war, according to a draft government proposal made available to reporters. Continue reading

Inside Japan’s invisible army

The country’s constitution bans it from having a traditional standing army. But its so-called Self Defense Force is one of the world’s most sophisticated armed bodies.

FORTUNE — On paper, Japan is a pacifist nation. It ranks 6th on the Global Peace Index, a list tabulated by peace activists at Vision of Humanity. Japan’s constitution makes illegal a traditional standing army. But a recently published defense white paper shows the extent to which the country has one of the most well-equipped “invisible” armies in the world.

Japan’s armed forces are euphemistically dubbed the “Self Defense Force” (SDF) — officially it’s an extension of the police. Continue reading