By Yuki Tatsumi:
The new Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, announced on April 27, have been celebrated by many as something “historic.” The U.S.-Japan Joint Vision Statement, issued following the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on April 28, referred to the new guidelines as a mechanism that will “transform” the alliance. The new guidelines offer a set of defense cooperation principles that will allow the U.S. military and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to plan operational cooperation without being tied to emergency situations or contingency scenarios in specific geographic areas.
Indeed, the time was ripe for Washington and Tokyo to revise the guidelines. The original guidelines were created in 1979 to set the parameters for cooperation between the U.S. military and the SDF in case of military attack against Japan. Its revision in 1997 took place in a post-Cold War strategic environment when the two sides sought to redefine the U.S.-Japan alliance — which had been positioned as an anti-Soviet alliance — to be the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
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Photo credit: U.S. Pacific Fleet via flickr