Washington's decision to encourage Tokyo's military expansion could upset Korea and other neighboring countries, which worry about resurgent Japan's militarism, the New York Times said Friday.
"Despite the benefits for the United States, the efforts by Japan to enhance its military capabilities present the Obama administration with a conundrum. While American officials have welcomed Japan's willingness to shoulder a larger share of the region's security burden, those moves have been watched warily in Korea, another key American defense partner," the paper said.
Tensions between Korea and Japan over Tokyo's lurch to the far right mean that the U.S. "has struggled to get its two closest Asian allies to conduct even low-level military cooperation. The agreement on Thursday called specifically for trilateral cooperation between the United States, Korea and Japan to face common threats, like North Korea's nuclear program."
China has voiced similar worries. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement that Japan-U.S. alliance is no more than a bilateral arrangement and should not go beyond its bilateral scope.
The spokesman added that the parties involved should work to contribute more to regional peace and stability and promote mutual trust.
Washington agrees that Tokyo should be able to assist other allied nations in case of an emergency, exercising a right to so-called collective self-defense which its current postwar constitution rules out. The U.S. appears not to have discussed the matter with neighboring countries.