Japan official: Deeper US alliance good for region

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top figure in Japan's ruling party said Friday his nation's security alliance with the U.S. should be deepened to prevent conflicts from breaking out in the Asia-Pacific.

Liberal Democratic Party secretary-general Shigeru Ishiba's comments come amid tensions with China over Japan's wartime past and a territorial dispute.

Speaking at a seminar in Washington, Ishiba struck a conciliatory tone but also cautioned China against using "misguided nationalism" to direct domestic discontent away from the ruling communist party and toward other countries.

He said "adventurism" could have disastrous consequences.

Ishiba described the U.S.-Japan security alliance as a "public good" for the region to prevent conflicts and deter use of force that would change the "status quo."

He said Japan should help share the security burden with the U.S. by allowing a more active, defensive role for Japan's military, under terms circumscribed by law and civilian oversight.

"This can play a big role in establishing peace in the Asia-Pacific region," Ishiba said.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering re-interpreting the nation's pacifist constitution to ease restrictions on Japan's military. China, which has unnerved its neighbors through its military buildup, has claimed this could herald a new era of Japanese militarism, which Tokyo rejects.

Ishiba indicated that said Japan may authorize its military to shoot down a missile headed for the U.S., or to protect a U.S. ship. He said Japan should also make clear what would kind of military actions be prohibited, such as helping countries that don't request assistance or a disproportionate response to an attack.

President Barack Obama met with Abe last week in Tokyo for discussions on trade and security.

Obama affirmed that the U.S. would be obligated to defend its Japanese treaty ally in a confrontation with Beijing over a set of disputed islands. But he urged all sides to resolve the long-running dispute peacefully.

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