Armitage says Japan's ban on collective self-defense "impediment"

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Monday that Japan's self-imposed ban on collective self-defense is an "impediment" to U.S.-Japan cooperation, apparently throwing support behind Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is seeking to review Japan's defense posture.

"We have often stated that the prohibition on collective self-defense is an impediment to alliance cooperation," Armitage said at a press conference in Tokyo. "We are going to have an alliance no matter what decision Japan makes (on the issue)."

His comments come as Abe is pushing for Japan's Constitution to be amended and also for the country to be allowed to exercise the right to collective self-defense amid heightened concerns about security in East Asia, including those related to North Korea.

Japanese authorities have also been on alert as China has continued to send ships to waters near the Senkaku Islands, administered by Japan but claimed by China, in the East China Sea, since Japan purchased most of the islets last year.

Regarding China, Armitage said U.S.-Chinese relations should be "peaceful, stable and somewhat predictable" where they can be "clear about differences."

Armitage spoke after the first meeting of U.S. and Japanese experts to discuss "the future trajectory" of the bilateral alliance.

The commission, established by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, includes persons such as Harvard University professor Joseph Nye and former Japanese Ambassador to the United States Ryozo Kato.