US, Japan plan to strengthen security pact inked over 60 years ago

The US military plans to bolster functions of its command headquarters in Japan, as it aims for smoother cooperation with the Asian country’s self-defence forces in tackling security threats posed by China and North Korea according to diplomatic sources cited by Kyodo news agency.

Japan and the United States will also work on further steps to enhance their response capabilities, Kyodo reported.

Tokyo had in 2022 decided to acquire the capability to strike enemy bases even under Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution.

Also, Japan is set to establish a joint headquarters to command its ground, maritime and air forces by the end of March 2025 with Kishida’s government is aiming to deepen cooperation between the US military and the joint headquarters.

The development comes amidst what the two countries, which have been allies since the World War II, view as a growing threat from North Korea and China in the backdrop of Pyongyang’s missile tests and Beijing’s military activities in the South China Sea as well as the Taiwan conflict.

Notably, China (People’s Republic of China) considers the self-ruled territory of Taiwan as part of its territory and claims there is only “one China.”.

China has increased military activities around Taiwan in recent years, including near-daily incursions into the country’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) and sending military ships near its maritime borders.

This comes ahead of talks in Washington next month between Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden in which the two leaders are expected to agree on the review of their command and control operations, sources said.

Kishida is scheduled to visit the United States as a state guest, the first such visit by a Japanese leader since Shinzo Abe in 2015.

The US and Japanese sides are likely to discuss such details ahead of the two plus two talks of foreign and defence ministers of the two countries later this year.

The US and Japan had signed a defence treaty in 1960., which granted the United States the right to establish bases on the archipelago in exchange for a commitment to defend Japan in the event of an attack.

The two countries have worked closely on developing ballistic-missile technology and in 2020, the United States approved the sale of 105 F-35 fighters to Japan.

Currently, the US Indo-Pacific Command, responsible for Japan, has its headquarters in Hawaii but the different time zone (19 hours behind Japan time) and physical distance (6, 200 kilometers) hampers the efficient interaction of Japanese forces and the US. military.

Last week, US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told reporters in Tokyo that Washington welcomes Japan’s efforts to boost its defence capabilities and that a related announcement may be made after the upcoming summit between Biden and Kishida, Kyodo reported.