Japan no free-rider on defense, Japan to tell US

Japan no free-rider on defense, Japan to tell US

TOKYO - Reuters
Japan no free-rider on defense, Japan to tell US


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will send a clear message to the United States when he visits Washington next week: Japan is ready to take more responsibility for security on the world stage. 

Behind that message, the conservative leader will want fresh assurances that America will show up if needed in any clash with China, conversations with politicians and experts show. 

“America of course has been committed to and has interest in Asia, but we would like it to turn its eyes even more to Asia, and build up its influence toward China,”  Hajime Funada, head of a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) panel on revising Japan’s pacifist constitution, told Reuters in an interview. 

“We have a sense of crisis that [Chinese President] Xi Jinping ... is increasing China’s hegemonic motivation.” 
Constrained by its pacifist constitution, Japan was for decades criticized in the United States for free-riding on U.S. military spending and using money that it would otherwise have used on its own defense to fund its economic development. 

Abe will stress in Washington that times have changed for the former enemies, now the closest of allies. “Part of the message will be that Japan will play a bigger role in security,” said an official involved in preparations for the trip.