WASHINGTON - Hailing the Japanese government's step to ease restrictions on its military as historic, the US has said that the decision will enable the Asian country to significantly increase its contribution to regional and global security and expand its role on the world stage.
"The Obama administration strongly supports the decision made by Prime Minister Abe and his cabinet," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters. "When Japan's Diet passes appropriate implementing legislation, this bold, historic, landmark decision will enable Japan to significantly increase its contribution to regional and global security and expand its role on the world stage," Hagel told reporters at a joint news conference with the visiting Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera.
The Japanese government's decision, he said, will also enable historic revisions to the US-Japan defence guidelines. "Together, Japan's collective self-defence decision and the revised defence guidelines will allow Japan to participate more actively in areas such as ballistic missile defence, counter-proliferation, counter-piracy, peacekeeping, and a wide range of military exercises," Hagel said.
"The US and Japan will also be able to work more closely together on maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and other areas. We can raise our alliance to a new level, and we intend to do that," he said. Onodera said that Hagel supports enhanced Japan's role in the US-Japan alliance and its contribution to regional peace and stability.
"Based on the decision, Hagel and I agreed progress on the revision of the 1997 guidelines for Japan-US defence co-operation and that an interim report on the revision will be released at an appropriate timing, so that we can provide transparency for related countries," he said. "We also agreed to further deepen specific bilateral co-operation on equipment and technology in accordance, and we would like to deepen our co-operation in accordance," the Japanese Defense Minister said.