NEW YORK - The Japanese and US governments agreed on Monday morning on new guidelines for bilateral defence co-operation during a meeting of the Japan-US Security Consultative Committee, also known as two-plus-two security talks, involving foreign and defence ministers from both countries.
The US side welcomed Japan's expanded defence co-operation and hailed the Japan-US alliance's new global character. "That is a very big change from being locally focused to being globally focused," US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said.
Regarding China's unilateral land reclamation in the South China Sea, the ministers who attended the two-plus-two security talks agreed on the recognition of the importance of the rule of law, seen as a move to keep Beijing in check.
The two-plus-two security talks, which lasted about 75 minutes, were attended by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Defence Minister Gen Nakatani, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Carter.
"Today we mark the establishment of Japan's capacity to defend not just its own territory, but also the United States and other partners as needed," Kerry said at a joint press conference after the meeting.
Kerry welcomed Japan's move to establish new security legislation, including bills that will allow the country to exercise the right of collective self-defence in limited situations. He said the meeting was "historic."
Carter, meanwhile, said the new guidelines put more weight on global affairs and reflect the US rebalancing policy that puts greater emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.
Nakatani said the innovativeness of the new guidelines will bring the Japan-US alliance to a new stage.
Kerry mentioned the importance of securing freedom of navigation in an apparent reference to the South China Sea. He said big states must not be a threat to small ones.
"We shared a common recognition about the importance of the rule of law for situations including the South China Sea," Kishida said. "We cannot let a unilateral attempt to change the status quo to be condoned. Japan will promote various measures in co-operation with the international community."
During the meeting, the ministers reaffirmed that the relocation of the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to the Henoko district of Nago in the prefecture is "the only solution" to avoid the continuous use of the base in the current location.
The Japanese side requested the United States lessen the burden of Okinawa Prefecture for hosting US bases, and the two countries agreed to co-operate in efforts to do so.Speech