U.S. and Japan are quietly upgrading mutual defense guidelines
Since January, senior defense officials of the United States and Japan have been working to significantly upgrade the blueprint of mutual defense tactics known as the Guideline for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation.
The primary impetus for the upgrade is the increased security threats faced by Japan from China and North Korea.
The U.S.-Japan defense alliance, the cornerstone of America's Asia Pacific presence, traditionally envisions key measures in event of a major security crisis in the region and Japan is under threat or attack.
The current version of the guideline is considered inadequate in light of the far more bellicose and capable Chinese military which operates submarines, anti-ship, and ballistic missiles.
A major factor is how and to what extent the U.S. should deploy its aircraft carriers in the region to protect Japan now that China has developed the world's first supersonic anti-carrier ballistic missile known as the DF-21D.
17 years ago, a war between China and Japan was highly unlikely. Today, scenarios for conflict are suddenly considered more likely.
China has unilaterally imposed its sovereign claim and air defense identification zone directly over Japan's territories. According to treaty obligations, the U.S. must join the fight to protect Japan from China, or North Korea.
The procedure to upgrade the guideline is not heavily publicized and the framework was last revised 17 years ago.
Experts expect changes include an enhanced role for the Japan Self-Defense Forces in the event of a major conflict with China.
The Japanese press is reporting that the result of the upgrade will be announced toward the end of the year.