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April 27, 2015


The New Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation

April 27, 2015 By Minister for
Foreign Affairs Kishida Minister of
Defense Nakatani Secretary of State
Kerry Secretary of Defense Carter



Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida, Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter convened the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (SCC) in New York on April 27, 2015. In light of the evolving security environment, the Ministers reconfirmed the Alliance's commitment to the security of Japan and to the maintenance of international peace and security.

The Ministers announced the approval and release of new, revised "Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation" (the Guidelines), which update the roles and missions of the two countries and promote a more balanced and effective Alliance to meet the emerging security challenges of the 21st century. The Ministers discussed a variety of regional and global challenges, initiatives to enhance bilateral security and defense cooperation in various areas, promotion of enhanced regional cooperation, and moving forward on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

As articulated in its 2015 National Security Strategy, the United States is actively implementing its rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. Central to this is the ironclad U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan, through the full range of U.S. military capabilities, including nuclear and conventional. Japan highly values U.S. engagement in the region. In this context, the Ministers reaffirmed the indispensable role of the Japan-U.S. Alliance in promoting regional peace, security, and prosperity.

As Japan continues its policy of "Proactive Contribution to Peace," based on the principle of international cooperation, the United States welcomes and supports Japan's recent monumental achievements. Among these are: the cabinet decision by the Government of Japan on July 1, 2014, for developing seamless security legislation; the creation of its National Security Council; the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology; the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets; the Basic Act on Cybersecurity; the new Basic Plan on Space Policy; and the Development Cooperation Charter.

The Ministers affirmed that the Japan-U.S. Alliance, strengthened by the new Guidelines and the two countries' respective security and defense policies, continues to serve as the cornerstone of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region as well as a platform for promoting a more peaceful and stable international security environment. The Ministers also reaffirmed that the Senkaku Islands are territories under the administration of Japan and therefore fall within the scope of the commitments under Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, and that they oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan's administration of these islands.


The Guidelines, which were first approved on November 27, 1978, and revised on September 23, 1997, have provided a general framework and policy direction for the roles and missions of the two countries, as well as ways of cooperation and coordination. At the SCC meeting in Tokyo on October 3, 2013, the Ministers shared views on the evolving security environment and directed the Subcommittee for Defense Cooperation (SDC) to draft recommended changes to the 1997 Guidelines to ensure that the Alliance continues its vital role in deterring conflict and advancing peace and security.

Today, the SCC approved the SDC's recommended new Guidelines, which accomplishes the objectives outlined by the Ministers in October 2013. The new Guidelines, which replace the 1997 Guidelines, update the general framework and policy direction for the roles and missions of the two countries and manifest a strategic vision for a more robust Alliance and greater shared responsibilities by modernizing the Alliance and enhancing its deterrence and response capabilities in all phases, from peacetime to contingencies.

Recognizing the significance of ensuring consistency between the new Guidelines and Japan's efforts to develop seamless security legislation, the Ministers acknowledged that such legislation would make bilateral efforts under the new Guidelines more effective. The United States welcomes and supports the ongoing efforts to develop the legislation, which is to reflect Japan's policy of "Proactive Contributions to Peace" and its July 2014 cabinet decision.

The core of the Guidelines continues to be the steadfast commitment to Japan's peace and security. The new Guidelines detail the ways and means through which the two governments continue to strengthen their ability to fulfill that commitment through seamless, robust, flexible, and effective Alliance responses while expanding bilateral cooperation across a range of other areas, such as:

Alliance Coordination Mechanism: Under the new Guidelines the two countries are establishing a standing, whole-of-government mechanism for Alliance coordination, enabling a seamless response in all phases, from peacetime to contingencies.

Regional and Global Cooperation: The new Guidelines enable the Alliance to make greater contributions to international security initiatives wherever appropriate in a way consistent with Japanese laws and regulations, such as peacekeeping operations, maritime security, and logistic support. The Ministers reiterated the importance of cooperating with regional and other partners as well as with international organizations.

New Strategic Cooperation: A dynamic world requires a modern Alliance, and the new Guidelines lay a foundation for the two countries to cooperate in space and cyberspace and in conducting operations intended to have effects across domains.

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief: The new Guidelines describe ways the two governments can work together to improve further the effectiveness of bilateral cooperation in responding to a large-scale disaster in Japan or around the world.

A Strong Foundation: The new Guidelines also describe programs and activities that pay dividends in every aspect of bilateral cooperation, including defense equipment and technology cooperation, intelligence cooperation and information security, and educational and research exchanges.

The Ministers confirmed their intention to start bilateral work under the new Guidelines. In this context, the SCC directed the SDC to implement the new Guidelines, including establishing the standing Alliance Coordination Mechanism and upgrading the Bilateral Planning Mechanism, thereby strengthening bilateral planning. The Ministers also expressed their intention to negotiate expeditiously an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement to operationalize the mutual logistics cooperation envisioned by the new Guidelines.


The Ministers noted with satisfaction ongoing progress to strengthen the Alliance's deterrence and response capabilities by enhancing bilateral security and defense cooperation in a variety of areas. The Ministers:

  • confirmed the strategic importance of deploying the most modern and advanced U.S. capabilities to Japan, which enhances Alliance deterrence and contributes to the security of Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. In this context, the Ministers welcomed the deployment of U.S. Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft to Kadena Air Base, the rotational deployment of U.S. Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles to Misawa Air Base, the deployment of the USS Green Bay, an upgraded amphibious transport ship, and U.S. plans to deploy Marine Corps F-35B aircraft to Japan in 2017. In addition, the Ministers welcomed U.S. plans to deploy additional Aegis ships to Yokosuka Naval Base by 2017, as well as the swap-out of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington with the more advanced USS Ronald Reagan later this year;
  • committed to continued engagement through the bilateral Extended Deterrence Dialogue, which reinforces the credibility of the U.S. defense commitment to Japan, including through discussion of nuclear and conventional capabilities;
  • stressed the importance of sustained cooperation in enhancing Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capabilities, particularly the deployment of a second AN/TPY-2 radar (X-band radar) system to Kyogamisaki in December 2014 and the planned deployment of two additional BMD-capable destroyers to Japan by 2017. Working in concert, these assets are to directly contribute to the defense of Japan and the United States;
  • highlighted enhanced collaboration on space security, particularly in the areas of resiliency and developing capabilities, through the whole-of-government Japan-U.S. Comprehensive Dialogue on Space and the Space Security Dialogue. The Ministers also highlighted increased cooperation resulting from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's provision of space situational awareness (SSA) information to the United States, as well as the establishment of a new framework to discuss space-related issues between the two defense authorities;
  • called for continued progress in cooperation on cyberspace issues, particularly in the areas of threat information sharing, mission assurance, and critical infrastructure protection, through the whole-of-government Japan-U.S. Cyber Dialogue and the Cyber Defense Policy Working Group;
  • lauded enhanced Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) cooperation, particularly the rotational deployment of U.S. Air Force Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles to Misawa Air Base and Japan's plans to procure advanced ISR platforms;
  • praised expanded logistics and defense equipment cooperation, as reflected by Japan's new Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology and the recent
    U.S. decision to establish an F-35 regional maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade capability in Japan. The Ministers highlighted strengthened defense equipment cooperation through the linkage of the Systems and Technology Forum and the Alliance Roles, Missions, and Capabilities dialogue, which facilitates joint research and development of advanced capabilities; and
  • affirmed the importance of enhanced information security cooperation, as reflected by continued progress through the Bilateral Information Security Consultations and by Japan's implementation of the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets. As a result of this legislation, the Government of Japan has put in place the policies, practices, and procedures necessary to facilitate the secure exchange of sensitive information in peacetime and during contingencies.

In addition, the Ministers affirmed that host nation support has demonstrated continued Japanese support for the forward-deployed presence of U.S. forces in Japan, which contributes to Japan's peace and security in an increasingly complex security environment. The Ministers, noting that the current host nation support commitment, as stipulated in June 2011 SCC documents, expires in March 2016, expressed their intention to start consultations on future arrangements to provide an appropriate level of host nation support.

Recognizing the expanding scope of bilateral activities, the Ministers affirmed their intent to consider at the earliest opportunity an appropriate bilateral consultation framework that would enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of Alliance management processes.


Recognizing the Japan-U.S. Alliance as the cornerstone of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region as well as a platform for promoting a more peaceful and stable international security environment, the Ministers highlighted recent progress in the following areas:

Increased cooperation in Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief operations, as reflected by close coordination in responding to the November 2013 typhoon in the Philippines;

Continued close coordination on partner capacity building, particularly in Southeast Asia, including through the provision of coastal patrol vessels and other maritime security capacity building endeavors; and

Expanded trilateral and multilateral cooperation, particularly with key partners such as the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Australia, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Ministers highlighted the recent signing of a trilateral information sharing arrangement with the ROK concerning the nuclear and missile threats posed by North Korea, and resolved to utilize the framework as the foundation for expanded trilateral cooperation into the future. The Ministers also affirmed their intention to pursue closer cooperation with Australia on capacity building activities in Southeast Asia, and on security and defense issues through the Security and Defense Cooperation Forum.


The Ministers reaffirmed the two governments' continued commitment to implement the existing arrangements on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan as soon as possible, while ensuring operational capability, including training capability, throughout the process. The Ministers underscored their commitment to maintaining a robust and flexible force posture that enhances deterrence by strengthening the capability to respond effectively to future challenges and threats, while also mitigating the impact of U.S. forces on local communities. In this context, the Ministers welcomed the relocation of the KC-130 squadron from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to MCAS Iwakuni and confirmed their commitment to continue aviation training relocation, including to locations outside of Okinawa, through efforts such as the development of training areas and facilities.

As an essential element of this effort, the Ministers reconfirmed that the plan to construct the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) at the Camp Schwab-Henokosaki area and adjacent waters is the only solution that addresses operational, political, financial, and strategic concerns and avoids the continued use of MCAS Futenma. The Ministers reaffirmed the two governments' unwavering commitment to the plan and underscored their strong determination to achieve its completion and the long-desired return of MCAS Futenma to Japan. The United States welcomes the steady and continuing progress of FRF construction projects.

The Ministers also reconfirmed the importance of land returns south of Kadena Air Base based on the 2006 "Roadmap" and the April 2013 Consolidation Plan, and reiterated the two governments' determination to work continuously on the implementation of the plan and anticipated the update of the plan by Spring 2016. The Ministers highlighted the on-time return of the West Futenma Housing Area of Camp Zukeran on March 31 of this year, which marked the most significant land return completed to date in accordance with the plan.

The Ministers confirmed that the two governments are steadily implementing the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps personnel from Okinawa to locations outside of Japan, including Guam, based upon the amended Guam International Agreement.
The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening cooperation to protect the environment and confirmed the importance of making further efforts in environmental matters. To that end, the Ministers welcomed progress on a supplementary Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Stewardship and confirmed their intention to continue negotiating the ancillary documents of the Agreement as expeditiously as possible.


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