Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to step up Japan-U.S. bilateral cooperation on "dynamic defense" with their eyes set on China's military buildup, during their talks here on April 30.
The agreement was hailed by the United States after an absence of marked progress in bilateral ties due in part to the disarray over the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.
In late March, Noda told senior Defense Ministry officials to include positive content in a Japan-U.S. joint document that was to be released in late April as an interim report on a roadmap for the realignment of the U.S. forces in Japan. "Please discuss and put down (in the interim report) anything in which Japan can cooperate with the U.S. to strengthen bilateral ties," the prime minister told defense officials. The move is apparently derived from the prime minister's desire to bring Japan-U.S. ties -- which were strained under the administration led by former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama -- back on track by promoting bilateral cooperation in security areas.
Dynamic defense pertains to a concept of seeking to bring about effective deterrence to various situations by operating troops versed in rapid response and mobility. The concept was stipulated in the National Defense Program Outline in 2010, based on which Tokyo and Washington began work toward joint exercises by the SDF and U.S. forces, joint warning and surveillance, and joint use of operational facilities run by Japan and the U.S. Bilateral cooperation in dynamic defense, which was included in the latest joint communique, comes as an extension of these moves.
The joint document released on April 27 as an interim report reviewing the roadmap for the realignment of the U.S. forces in Japan stipulated a plan to develop training areas in Guam and in Tinian of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for joint use by Japan and the U.S. Joint exercises by Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force of the U.S. Marine Corps, which is based in Okinawa, are also envisaged in Tinian.