Responding to building economic and military pressure from China as well as the perceived North Korean nuclear threat, President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have reached an agreement on new defense guidelines that give the Japanese military more freedom to act unilaterally in defending itself and its allies.
Prime Minister Abe is visiting the White House this week to discuss the new guidelines, and held a joint press conference with Mr. Obama Tuesday morning.
Known as the Self-Defense Forces, Japan’s military has been tightly restricted since World War II. A 1960 treaty requires that the U.S. protect Japan from external aggression, and under another agreement, made in the late 90s, Japanese forces could only protect the U.S. military if it was directly defending Japan at the time. The new agreement would allow Japan to defend U.S. military forces even when they aren’t working in direct defense of Japan.
Both Japan and the U.S. are concerned about China’s military rise, the potential nuclear threat from North Korea, and the conflict in Yemen, which U.S. officials worry may create an opening for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to attack the U.S.
What does this agreement mean for relations between Japan and the U.S.? Is this enough to counter potential threats from China and North Korea?
Phil Ewing, senior defense reporter for POLITICO, joining us from the Pentagon.
James R. Holmes, Ph.D., professor of strategy & policy at the U.S. Naval War College. He’s also the co-author of “Red Star Over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy.” Dr. Holmes is a former Naval surface warfare officer and a Gulf War veteran.