Further military cooperation with the United States is vital to maintain a bilateral security alliance the nation cannot do without, former Ambassador Hirohisa Okazaki told a Diet committee Wednesday.

Speaking at the Lower House special committee on the revised Japan-U.S. defense guidelines, Okazaki, one of four experts who were invited to present their views during the morning session, said he fears Japan may rearm on its own as it did before World War II should it fail to uphold the alliance with the U.S.

“Asia’s stability is proportional to the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance,” said Okazaki, a former ambassador to Thailand. “Our top priority now is to secure our peace and prosperity. Some people broach the concept of Japan’s independence (in discussing the guidelines), but that only confuses the discussion,” he said.

Tetsuya Nishimoto, former chief of the Joint Staff Council, emphasized during the same session that the updated guidelines are not meant to target any particular nation, much less increase Japan’s international military presence by conspiring with the U.S.

Kiyoshi Sasamori, leader of the 8 million-member Japan Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), raised a question over why the two governments did not revise the current Japan-U.S. Security Treaty but instead expanded only the scope of Japan’s military cooperation for the U.S. for a crisis outside Japan.

Sasamori insisted that an operation plan, which would be mapped out by the government to cooperate with U.S. forces in an emergency near Japan, must be approved by the Diet, in principle, before Japan’s participation in any U.S.-led activity involving the Self-Defense Forces.

Ryuichi Ozawa, an associate professor at Shizuoka University, said the guidelines bills should be discarded because Japan will need to exercise its right of collective defense in order to regard an incident happening outside Japanese territory as threatening the nation’s peace and stability.

Under the Constitution, the Japanese government has maintained that although Japan has the right to collective defense, it will not exercise such a right. Japan can take military action only when the nation itself is fired upon.

Ozawa also pointed out that the current security treaty between Japan and the U.S. stipulates that Japan provide U.S. forces only with bases and related military facilities, not logistic support as is called for under the revised guidelines.

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