TOKYO (THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Tuesday (June 23) marks the 60th anniversary of the current Japan-US Security Treaty taking effect. Both countries must continue their efforts to enhance mutual trust.
With the treaty-based Japan-US alliance as a foundation, Japan has secured peace and stability, and enjoyed economic prosperity. Bilateral cooperation covers a wide range of areas, including the economy and culture, as well as security.
It is hoped that the two countries will continue to deepen their relations in a way that will lead to both countries' development.
The main point of the revision of the earlier treaty in 1960 was to clarify the US obligation to defend Japan, with the military power of the then Soviet Union in mind. Since the end of the Cold War, threats have diversified and military technology has advanced remarkably.
North Korea, which continues its nuclear and missile development, has repeatedly test-fired a variety of ballistic missiles. China, which is advancing its military build-up, does not cease its hegemonic marine activities. It even plans to deploy weapons in space with a huge budget.
It is difficult for Japan to deal with these issues based on its own defence capabilities alone.
It is necessary to enhance joint response capabilities with close cooperation between the Self-Defence Forces and the US military.
The US involvement in Asia is essential to maintain deterrence.
In April, the US military changed the operations of its strategic bombers based in Guam so that they can fly from their home bases on the US mainland.
The bombers had been on alert in the South China Sea and participated in joint military drills with South Korea to hold China and North Korea in check.
Since their relocation to the US mainland, the bombers have conducted joint drills with the Air Self-Defence Force around Japan. It is necessary to improve joint proficiency through repeated exercises.
What is important is to constantly review Japan's role.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his view to discuss a new security policy within the government. The government has suspended procedures to introduce the Aegis Ashore ground-based missile interceptor system.
The alternative to Aegis Ashore is the main issue up for discussion.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party seeks for Japan to possess the capability to attack enemy bases.
In 1956, the government said in response to a question that it simply cannot believe that the spirit of the Constitution requires the country to sit and wait to die.
Its interpretation is that attacking enemy bases in the event of an imminent missile launch is within the scope of self-defence that the Constitution allows.
If many missiles are fired at the same time, it would not be easy to intercept all of them with the current defence system.
In order to minimise the damage, the option of attacking enemy bases with cruise missiles is a possibility.
By having the means for counterattacks, deterrence is enhanced. If Japan's role increases, the Japan-US alliance will be strengthened.
Much time must not be spent on arguments without substance, including one that such a capability could lead to a war of aggression. The government should carefully study the issue and broaden the understanding of the public.
The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media organisations.