Japan and the U.S. said Friday that they will push back a review of their security-cooperation guidelines, citing the timing of Japan’s legislative process.
They had hoped to complete the review by the end of the year, but will now take it up during the first half of next year, according to a joint statement.
“We regret that we couldn’t make the deadline, but deepening our discussion for further improvement is good, and will lead to further strengthening of the Japan-U.S. cooperation,” Japanese Defense Minister Akinori Eto said Friday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to expand the Japanese military’s mandate and role in the partnership, but faces opposition from the public and his ruling coalition partner, the Buddhist-affiliated Komeito party.
In July, Mr. Abe’s cabinet approved a reinterpretation of the country’s post-war pacifist constitution to permit its military to come to the defense of an ally should it be attacked. Mr. Abe has argued that Japan needs to play a greater role in regional security and contribute more to the partnership with the U.S.
A majority of Japanese people opposed the reinterpretation on the grounds that such a move should require a constitutional amendment, polls showed, and Mr. Abe has made concessions on the issue. Any deployment in defense of an ally, dubbed collective self-defense, will be limited, Mr. Abe has said.
Parliament must pass supporting legislation for the policy changes to take effect, and the government has vowed to submit the necessary bills in next year’s regular session to enable thorough scrutiny.