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U.S., Japan Announce Defense Guidelines

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 1997 – The United States and Japan have agreed to revamp guidelines steering their alliance, U.S. officials announced in New York Sept. 23.

Pentagon officials said the guidelines, last changed in 1978, are the touchstone of security in Asia. They provide the framework for how the United States and Japan will work together in peace and war. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said the guidelines mean greater defense cooperation between the two countries is the norm.

The guidelines resulted from the "U.S.-Japan Joint Declaration of Security" issued in 1996.

The U.S.-Japan alliance affects all countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Both parties worked to keep the process open. "We made the deliberations as transparent and open as possible to alleviate any concerns on the part of China," Cohen said at the news conference announcing the guidelines.

In peacetime, the guidelines call for closer cooperation between the two countries. This includes matters such as information sharing and policy consultations.

Most of the guidelines clarify the rear area support Japan would provide to the United States in a crisis. Pentagon officials said this was motivated by the Persian Gulf War and the 1993 nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The Japanese constitution complicates the situation because it severely limits that country's military establishment and actions.

Japanese rear area support includes U.S. use of airfields, ports and who would provide security in those areas. The guidelines also cover what support Japan would provide during a regional crisis. Japanese mine sweepers, for example, will now operate in international waters and support freedom of navigation operations/missions, Pentagon officials said. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces could take over much of the routine patrolling and overflight of the sea-lines of communication.

Japan and the United States will cooperate in noncombatant evacuation operations where the nationals of both countries are at risk.

Japan has been sending more military forces overseas in support of U.N. operations, for example, to Cambodia. It will also participate in ship inspections in support of U.N. Security Council resolutions under this agreement. The defense guidelines define U.S.-Japanese relations during these operations.

The guidelines commit the United States to maintaining troops in Japan as part of the overall strategy of forward presence. Currently, 47,000 American troops are in Japan out of the 100,000 service members in Asia.

The Japanese parliament must approve the guidelines.

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