Japan and the United States have signed a revised bilateral agreement to boost logistics cooperation between their military forces in light of the deepening defense alliance under the new security legislation that came into force in March.
The formal signing took place Monday in Tokyo.
The Self-Defense Forces have been able to provide to the U.S. military supplies such as food and oil as well as transportation and other services as logistic support activities under the bilateral Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement. But the provision of ammunition had been limited to military emergencies affecting Japan.
The amended ACSA, which will require Diet approval to come into force, enables more flexible provision of ammunition based on the new security legislation, which has loosened constraints imposed on SDF activities by the pacifist Constitution.
“The agreement we’re signing today will enable us to smoothly implement the (security) cooperation between Japan and the United States, which was expanded by the legislation,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said at the signing ceremony.
U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy said the agreement is “critical to effective cooperation” between the U.S. military and the SDF.
“As we work together to modernize our security alliance and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief across the Pacific, we will be aided greatly by the integration of effort that this agreement makes possible,” she said.
Japanese officials said the revised ACSA will set the stage for the SDF to provide ammunition to the U.S. forces when they are engaged in activities in non-emergency situations, such as information gathering, anti-piracy operations or missions to deal with ballistic missile threats.
Weapons will continue to be excluded among the supplies that can be provided, the officials said.
The Abe administration hopes to submit a proposal to revise the ACSA during the just-started extraordinary Diet session, one of the officials said.
The government initially hoped to seek approval of the proposal during the regular session that ended in June. But it did not do so apparently due to fears that the move could rekindle public opposition to the already controversial security legislation ahead of the Upper House election in July.
The biggest change brought about by the legislation is that it ended Japan’s ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense, or defending allies regardless of whether Japan itself is under attack. Successive governments prior to that of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had said Japan cannot exercise the right due to the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.
The enactment of the legislation last year drew a wave of protests from many people who feared that the legislation erodes Japan’s postwar pacifism.