In the decades after World War II the nation of Japan has maintained a small military and abided by laws designed to restrain militarism. Though that restraint was initially imposed by the US in the aftermath of World War II the people of Japan seemed to be at ease with no longer being a military power or being involved militarily in events around the world.

But an agreement signed on Monday will change all that.

Under the new agreement with the United States, Japan will no longer be restrained from taking a role in military operations around the world, in fact, the country will be encouraged to as it partners with the US in military research and training. Japan will also, per the agreement, strengthen its intelligence relationship with the US.

Japan will be able to defend regional allies that come under attack, a change that means Japanese missile defense systems could be used to intercept any weapons launched toward the United States — notable, given its close proximity to North Korea, which the official later described as a “growing threat” to regional stability. In addition, expect to see increased Japanese presence around the globe on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, and potentially also on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. 

The guidelines will also lead to the establishment of a standing “alliance coordination mechanism,” made up of Japanese and US officials from the defense and foreign relations sides. That body will provide a streamlined way of organizing and controlling US-Japan operations, something that has hindered the military relationship in the past.

Though North Korea is the nation highlighted as part of the impetus for the agreement, a country just as much (if not more so) on the mind of those crafting the agreement is China. Japan and China have already been feuding over disputed islands and China’s rise in East Asia is making US imperial officials nervous

China will almost certainly view the new military agreement between the US and Japan as a threat and a further attempt to restrain its own rise. The “pivot to Asia” strategy the US is pursuing is coming increasingly into focus with the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seeking to limit China’s economic opportunities along with this new military agreement with Japan to strengthen US military ties in the region.

Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.