WASHINGTON – Senior Vice Defense Minister Akihisa Nagashima has reached agreement with high-ranking members of the U.S. government to begin reviewing bilateral defense guidelines that define coordination between the Self-Defense Forces and the American military.
“We agreed Friday to hold strategic talks,” Nagashima told reporters in Washington after holding separate meetings with U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
Tokyo and Washington are arranging to launch a working-level meeting on updating the 1997 guidelines possibly as early as December, according to Japanese government sources.
Nagashima also confirmed with Carter and Campbell that Tokyo and Washington will accelerate efforts to hammer out the details of the return to Japan of certain facilities and land used by the U.S. military south of U.S. Kadena Air Base on Okinawa Island.
On the planned revision of the defense guidelines, Nagashima said Japan and the United States are working together “in the same direction,” and indicated that joint exercises between the SDF and U.S. forces, as well as the joint use of SDF bases, will likely be covered in the upcoming talks.
Amid China’s growing military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, Nagashima told Carter and Campbell that Japan’s security environment is “changing considerably” and proposed further discussions on deepening bilateral defense ties.
During Nagashima’s meetings, Washington again apologized over two recent high-profile criminal incidents involving American servicemen in Okinawa — the alleged rape of a woman by two U.S. sailors in the city of Okinawa and a home invasion and assault by a U.S. airman — and Nagashima sought assurances that there will be no recurrence.
Cyber Command liaison
The Defense Ministry will dispatch a senior Self-Defense Forces officer to the Cyber Command entity under the U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska, according to sources.
The ministry plans to station a field-grade officer at the command from fiscal 2013 to learn cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies and boost the SDF’s defenses against cyber-attacks, the sources said Friday.
The SDF plans to create a cyberdefense unit under the Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff Office by the end of fiscal 2013. Since no bilateral lines of communication over cyberdefense exist at present, the ministry aims to have the SDF maintain close contact with the U.S. Cyber Command.
Washington established the command in 2010 to supervise the cyberdefense units of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.