US, Japan Unveil New Military ‘Guidelines’ with Eye on China

Japanese Officials Aim to Dodge Specific Questions, Facing Constitutional Questions

US and Japanese officials today unveiled the broad strokes of a new set of “guidelines” for military cooperation, eliminating long-standing geographical restrictions on Japan’s involvement that were and are necessitated by the country’s constitution limiting their military engagements.

Pressed heavily by the US to the biggest military buildup since the end of WW2, and with hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe only too willing to go along, US officials are calling the deal an “historic transition” for Japan.

The unconstitutional nature of Abe’s “reinterpretations” of what is an explicitly pacifist constitution is going to require considerable legislation on the matter, and Japan’s foreign and defense ministers are refusing to discuss specifics on the new deal with the US.

US interests in confronting China militarily are informing much of this policy, with the planned “Asia pivot” by the Pentagon somewhat blunted by a major new US war against ISIS.

The US has been verbally picking fights with China over naval claims for several years now, backing literally every other country in the region whenever claimed naval territory overlaps, and talking up confrontations in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Secretary of State John Kerry is presenting the disputes as core to Japan’s security, and promising US support, though the dispute between Japan and China is really a long-standing one over comparatively inconsequential islands, and the US interests are much more intense in the south, where significant offshore oil deposits exist that the US would much prefer to be in the possession of a nation like Vietnam or the Philippines, countries that would likely have to turn to American companies to serious exploit them.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of