New strategic relations between U.S. and Japan

Last Monday, the United States of America and Japan struck an agreement that will change the international geopolitical landscape. The two nations agreed upon a new set of defense relationship guidelines that strengthen Japan’s global military presence and bolster their ties on cyber, space and industrial programs. Some controversy surrounds the fact that the updated guidelines result from a liberal view of the Japanese constitution, calling for Japanese involvement in the defense of its allies. “Prior to that, Japanese forces could only act if Japan itself was directly threatened.” This liberal interpretation seems to be in keeping with Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s right wing foreign policy; which has been characterized by its staunch opposition to North Korea and China, and its strengthened ties with the US and European Union.

Japan will be able to defend regional allies that come under attack, a change that means Japanese missile defense systems could be used to intercept any weapons launched toward the United States — notable, given its close proximity to North Korea, which the official later described as a “growing threat” to regional stability.

The timing of this agreement also comes as no surprise given China’s recent aggressive claims in its coastal waters. The agreement, which codifies a mayor change to Japan’s military structure, points toward a growing concern on how to cope with the surging economic and military power of China. Officials, however, have “dismissed the notion that the new guidelines are a direct response to the economic, political and military rise of China.

Photo by: Lawrence Jackson (Official White House Photo)

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