The government should clearly define the “areas surrounding Japan” in which Japan can provide support to the U.S. military, Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa said Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference following the launch of the coalition government, Ozawa said he believes the phrase is fully understood by the Liberal Democratic Party.

He also said he criticized the government’s ambiguous definition of areas in which Japan can provide the U.S. support in times of emergency during his meeting Wednesday afternoon with LDP policy affairs chief Yukihiko Ikeda. The two had met as a part of the final phase of policy discussions on security issues between their respective parties.

Revised guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation call for Japan’s provision of support to the U.S. military in cases of emergency in unspecified “areas surrounding Japan.”

The government has been saying that the phrase is merely a concept with an emphasis on incidents of war rather than with a specific geological area in mind. “I told (Ikeda) that such an illogical explanation should not be accepted. It is a matter of course that areas surrounding Japan include such neighboring areas as Russia, the Korean Peninsula, China and Taiwan,” Ozawa said.

Although the two parties reached final agreement on security issues Wednesday, including a decision to try to win Diet approval for a set of bills to implement the new defense guidelines during its session convening Tuesday, it may be difficult for the bills to pass the Diet without revision.

Concerning the start of the LDP-Liberal Party coalition government, Ozawa said it is significant that the Liberal Party will be able to carry out its policies. “It is not a big thing that the coalition government has been launched. But I welcome it as it marks the beginning of fundamental reforms of the country,” Ozawa said.

By retaining his post as party leader, Ozawa said he will work hard to realize his party’s policies. “Just because we formed a coalition government with the LDP does not mean we are going to drop our demands,” Ozawa said.

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