Japan, U.S. ready to start work to revise defense guidelines

Japan and the United States confirmed Wednesday they will formally agree at a bilateral ministerial meeting in October to start work to revise the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines, according to Japanese Defense Ministry officials.

In talks with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Brunei, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel promised to quickly fulfill a request by Onodera for more information on Monday's hard landing of an MV-22 Osprey military plane in Nevada, the officials said.

The envisaged revision of the defense guidelines, which define the role of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military, is meant to enable the two allies to better cope with recent changes in the security situation of the Asia-Pacific region, including the rise of China as a military power.

Onodera and Hagel, along with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, plan to hold the so-called two-plus-two meeting on Oct. 3 in Tokyo.

The U.S. Defense Department quoted Hagel as saying he looks forward to continued bilateral discussion on strengthening the alliance during his upcoming visit to Tokyo this October.

The two ministers "expressed their interest in continuing to modernize the alliance by enhancing their already strong security cooperation initiatives," it said.

According to the Japanese officials, Onodera briefed Hagel on the current debate in the government on whether to lift Japan's self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense, or defending an ally under armed attack.

Hagel was quoted as saying he understands it.

They agreed to exchange views on the issue of Japan's maintaining a capacity to mount attacks on the bases of hostile states.

Onodera said responding to North Korea is at the forefront of the debate on this issue within the Japanese government.

The Pentagon said the two ministers discussed "the regional security environment, including North Korea's continued nuclear and ballistic missile developments" and "the goal of deepening cyber cooperation."

Prior to the talks with Hagel, Onodera met with New Zealand's Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman and agreed to promote bilateral defense exchange.