US, Philippines welcome shift in Japan's defence policy

The United States, which considers Japan one of its closest allies and partners, has welcomed the shift in Japanese defence policy.

When asked about the security Bills on Thursday (Sept 17), US Department of State spokesman John Kirby said: "We welcome Japan's ongoing efforts to strengthen the alliance and to play a more active role in regional and international security activities, as reflected in the new guidelines for US-Japan defence cooperation that were approved in April."

The April guidelines had signalled Japan's willingness to take on more responsibility for its security at a time of growing Chinese power and increased tension in the East and South China seas where China has conflicting territorial claims with Japan and several Asean states respectively.

 
 

Ms Shihoko Goto, senior associate for North-east Asia at the think tank Wilson Centre, said the new laws are "critical for the continued success of the US-Japan alliance", especially as Washington looks to "go beyond a 'hub-and-spoke' system of security" and pursues a more collaborative approach.

Mr James Schoff, senior associate of the Asia Programme at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace added that the change in legislation would prompt "more meaningful and integrated planning and cooperation" and a "more equal relationship" on the security front.

There was also general support for the move coming out of US ally the Philippines.

Mr Jose Antonio Custodio, a defence analyst and military historian, said it would "strengthen Philippine resolve to defend its territories in the South China Sea", where China's claims encroach into what the Philippines regards as its waters.

"We can count on another country to participate physically in containing Chinese expansionist ambition," he said.

But for Representative Carlos Zarate, of the nationalist Bayan Muna (People First) party, Japan's growing militarist tendency will spawn an arms race, with the Philippines caught in the middle.

"The Philippines will once again be cannon fodder in this expansionist war between the US-Japan on one hand and China and its allies on the other," he said.

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