Japan may give military support to US in South China Sea

7:21:00 AM
TOKYO, -- Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito Party held negotiations over a new amendment to the US-Japan Security Treaty on March 20, according to Duowei News, a media outlet run by overseas Chinese.

The amendment is expected to grant Japan the right to collective self-defense and will provide a legal framework for the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) to provide back up for the US military and the militaries of its other allies.

There are currently measures in place which prevent the dispatch of the JSDF overseas. The government is drawing up a draft bill to change this, however, at the same time as it is renegotiating its security treaty with the US.

China and other neighboring countries engaged in territorial disputes in the resource-rich South China Sea were the focus of the negotiations on March 20. The negotiations suggest that the US and Japan are looking to assert themselves in the South China Sea region.

The report said the security treaty is set to be amended at the end of April and its content will likely be reflected in the changes to the law.

Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun reported that the current laws concerning the treaty are to ensure its effective implementation but only apply to regions north of the Philippines. This limits Japan's ability to provide back up for the US in the South China Sea. This limit is set to be repealed, however, which will allow Japan to intervene in the South China Sea to a greater extent on behalf of the US.

China claims the South China Sea in its entirety and has engaged in land reclamation efforts there as well as building up infrastructure on disputed islands. Chinese activities in the region have raised the hackles of Vietnam and the Philippines.

The US is concerned that tensions between the countries may escalate and would like Japan to take a more active role in the region, according to the paper.

The South China Sea also serves as a lifeline for Japan. Most of Japanese oil imports have to pass through the region and conflict there could seriously damage the country's interests.

To avoid provoking China, Japan had previously refrained from allowing the South China Sea to be discussed in the treaty. Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, appears less afraid of ruffling feathers in Beijing, however. This means that the next US-Japan security treaty will likely take a clear stance on the South China Sea.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) escort ship "Kurama" leads other vessels during a fleet review in water off Sagami Bay, south of Tokyo.


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