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Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 09:53

US, Japan unveil new defense guidelines

By Xinhua

NEW YORK - US and Japan on Monday announced new guidelines for bilateral defense cooperation, allowing Japan's self defense forces to take on a more ambitious global role that the Shinzo Abe administration had been seeking.

As per the new guidelines, revised for the first time since 1997, Japan will have the rights to exercise collective self-defense, therefore being able to defend other countries that may come under attack, said the US Defense Department in a news release. It also allows for increased regional and global cooperation between US and Japan.

According to the guidelines, the changes would allow greater cooperation in enhancing ballistic missile defense capacities, enhanced collaboration on space security, and continued progress in cooperation on cyberspace issues.

A joint statement on New Guidelines for US-Japan Defense Cooperation was released after the US and Japanese foreign and defense ministers met in New York City Monday morning.

"US welcomes and supports the ongoing efforts to develop the legislation, which is to reflect Japan's policy of 'Proactive Contributions to Peace' and its July 2014 cabinet decision," the statement reads.

The Abe administration, through reinterpreting the constitution in July last year, gave green light to the country's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to exercise their right to collective defense, which allows Japan's involvement in the defense of its allies. Previously, Japan's pacifist constitution allowed the SDF to use force only if Japan itself was directly threatened. The move has evoked harsh criticism both in home and abroad.

As per the statement, as the US 2015 National Security Strategy is focused on "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific region, it is central for the US to be committed to the defense of Japan.

The revisions to the guidelines came on the second day of Japanese Prime Minister Abe's week-long visit to the United States, during which Abe is expected to meet US President Barack Obama, and deliver a speech at the joint session of the U.S. Congress.

The prime minister's trip to the United States comes amid growing demand for him to apologize for Japan's past war crimes.

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