The Cipher Take

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Headline: U.S. and Japan Announce Increase Defense Cooperation Over North Korea

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and their Japanese counterparts announced that the U.S. and Japan will step up defense cooperation at a press conference in Washington on Thursday. "In light of the serious situation we face, we are accelerating implementation of the 2015 guideline for the U.S.-Japan defense cooperation, and continuing to realign U.S. forces in Japan and Guam," said Mattis. In addition, Japan pledged $500 million to maritime security in East Asia and to strengthen its national defense. The announcement comes soon after North Korea postponed its decision to conduct a missile test aimed at the U.S. territory of Guam and a spike in U.S.-North Korea tensions.

The Cipher Take:

The 2015 guidelines in question were meant primarily to improve operational planning and intelligence sharing between the U.S. and Japan, and their implementation will produce a stronger, more capable alliance, but also one that will have ripple effects in the East Asian status quo. It is sure to irritate North Korea but will most likely also upset China and perhaps even South Korea. The East Asian region is still wary of Japan’s militaristic past and does not welcome a more assertive role for Japan. This role, however, has been a goal of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and he has slowly but surely attempted to roll back provisions of Article 9, the section of Japan’s post-war constitution that prohibits an offensive military posture.

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