Japan’s foreign and defence ministers hold talks with their American counterparts in Washington today amid ongoing tensions in East Asia. The meeting comes days after America’s top uniformed officer visited Seoul to reassure his South Korean partners of Washington’s steadfast support.
On July 28, Pyongyang launched a missile that landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, prompting concern from Tokyo.
Accordingly, Japan has ramped up its defences, deploying the Patriot anti-missile system and an Aegis naval destroyer. Tokyo further insisted that it will shoot down any missile the North launches at Guam.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and newly appointed Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera may use the mounting tensions between Washington and Pyongyang to make another push to increase Japan’s military might, including the acquisition of offensive capabilities, which would enable the country to preemptively strike North Korea.
While it’s unlikely such a push will yield tangible results in the near future, especially given the unpopularity of Mr Abe and his government, the US is likely to support any measures enhancing Japan’s defensive capabilities.