Defense Minister Tomomi Inada plans to visit the United States in mid-September to meet with Pentagon chief Ash Carter and affirm their cooperation based on Japan’s new security legislation, according to a government source.
The visit, arranged for around Sept. 13, will be Inada’s first trip to the U.S. after assuming her post in early August.
The source said Inada intends to hold talks with Carter to confirm the strong Japan-U.S. alliance and to agree to steadily implement joint exercises between the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. troops, given that the SDF has taken on new roles under the new security legislation.
Japan is now allowed, in a limited manner, to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of the U.S. and other friendly nations under armed attack even if Japan itself is not attacked.
Previous governments maintained the view that Japan has the right under international law but cannot exercise it due to Article 9 of the pacifist Constitution, which bans the use of force to settle international disputes.
Inada is also eager to exchange views with Carter over the planned replacement of the Futenma air base within Okinawa, according to the source.
Progress has been slow on the transfer of facility’s operations from a crowded residential district in Ginowan to the less-populated Henoko coastal area of Nago, with the central and prefectural governments locked in dispute.
The schedule for Inada’s trip will be finalized after taking into account when the upcoming Diet session will be convened.
Inada is also expected to make a two-day visit to Okinawa from Sept. 10 to hold talks with Gov. Takeshi Onaga, the source said.
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