(Reuters) - Japan and the United States announced on Monday an update of U.S.-Japan guidelines for cooperation on defense, the first revision since 1997.
Those revisions reflect the biggest change in Japanese security policy in decades and will expand the scope for Japan’s roles and missions in a more global alliance.
Following are examples of activities Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, as its military is known, can undertake after the expected passage of enabling legislation, including changes to allow Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense, or militarily aiding a friendly country under attack. The changes will also expand the scope for Japan to provide logistical support for friendly countries, in theory anywhere in the world.
- Mine sweep in international straits such as the Middle East’s Strait of Hormuz, through which much of Japan’s oil resources pass, and the Tsushima between Japan and South Korea.
- Defend U.S. airplanes and vessels if attacked during joint training or joint patrols.
- Shoot down ballistic missiles heading toward the United States and defend U.S. vessels equipped with Aegis ballistic missile defense systems if they are attacked while monitoring missiles headed for Japan.
- Provide logistical support to U.S. forces when they are engaged in armed conflict in areas beyond Japan’s immediate neighborhood, such as the South China Sea.
- Provide logistical support to multilateral forces engaged in air-strike operations, without enacting new, specific legislation such as was required for Japan’s refueling support for U.S.-led operations in the Indian Ocean during the war in Afghanistan. This includes providing ammunition and fueling jet fighters preparing for takeoff.
- Protect U.S. bases and other military assets in Asia under Japan’s ballistic missile defense umbrella.
Sources - Japanese lawmakers and Japanese and U.S. government sources)
Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo and Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Eric Beech