“Japan will be a more effective alliance partner if its Self-Defense Forces are able to help defend American soldiers or sailors if they are attacked,” U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy told the Asahi newspaper in an interview published Jan. 23.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed Thursday that the country's continued self-imposed ban on exercising its right to collective self-defense will adversely affect the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Referring to a case in which Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels fail to counterattack when U.S. warships conducting joint activities come under attack, Abe said at a meeting of the House of Councillors Budget Committee, "The damage from the failure to the Japan-U.S. alliance is immeasurable."
Yousuke Isozaki, a special adviser to Abe on security policy, is spearheading the effort on collective self-defense and says the change will deepen security ties with the U.S. and allow Japan to reach out to other allies.
“We want to be able to discuss security with friendly countries other than the U.S.,”he said in a Jan. 17 interview. “If we are bound hand and foot, we cannot talk. We cannot even say we will protect one another if something happens.”
… East China Sea …current situation is unfolding in the gray-zone. … Japan will take care of the current situation by herself as long as it continues to be in gray-zone. However, if it escalates to a military conflict, the situation will drastically change and fall under “Article Five” in the Security Treaty, where the two militaries will cooperate operationally. In this case, he primary player will be the SDF, and assistance from the U.S. to Japan is to be expected.
[G]ray-zone crisis is also applicable to the South China Sea… The development of a permanent body as well as procedures for operational cooperation and coordination will give additional flexibility to deal with challenges in the gray-zone.
However, I don’t see any public acknowledgement that, by supporting collective self defense they are potentially disintermediating the United States in the restructuring of the Asian security regime and putting a powerful lever in the hands of the Japanese government. I also reached out to two eminences in Asian security for comment, and they both stated that the potential for Japanese security freelancing in the context of "collective self defense" did not concern them.
“What is lucky for the Abe administration is that China set up the ADIZ,” said the LDP’s Hirasawa, who tutored Abe as a child. “That proves that what the Abe administration has been saying is correct. China is taking a stronger and stronger stance.”