US, Japan to Strengthen Military Ties in Buildup Aimed at China

The US is encouraging Japan to bolster its military and continue to move away from its post-World War II constitution that renounces war

Next month, the US and Japan are expected to announce the most significant change to their military alliance since the 1960s as the US is bolstering its forces in the region to prepare for a future war with China.

According to Financial Times, the US and Japan will unveil a plan to restructure the US military command in Japan to strengthen operational planning and exercises between the two nations when Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishia visits the White House on April 10.

The overhaul will give the head of US Forces Japan more authority to coordinate with Japan’s military rather than having to go through US Indo-Pacific Command, which is based in Hawaii.

Other details of the plan are unclear, but it could be related to Japan increasing its military capabilities as the US has been encouraging Tokyo to move away from its post-World War II constitution, which renounces war and says armed forces with war potential should never be maintained.

Japan has been breaking from its pacifist constitution for years and announced in 2022 that it was increasing its military budget by 56% and would acquire US-made Tomahawk missiles, which have a range of over 1,000 miles. Japan’s military buildup is being done explicitly to counter China as it named Beijing the “biggest strategic challenge” in its national security strategy document, echoing language used by the Pentagon.

On Tuesday, Japan’s Cabinet approved a plan to loosen the country’s strict weapons export rules. The plan will allow the sale of next-generation fighter jets that Japan is developing jointly with the UK and France to 15 countries that Tokyo has defense agreements with.

The US maintains its largest foreign military presence in Japan, which hosts over 53,000 US troops. About 70% of US bases in Japan are in the Okinawa Prefecture, which accounts for only 0.6% of Japan’s territory. The people of Okinawa overwhelmingly want the US to reduce its military presence, but Washington and Tokyo are forcing a construction project to relocate a base against the wishes of the prefecture’s governor.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.