October 16, 2013 10:58
Australia has joined the U.S. in supporting Japan's attempt to engage the country's strictly defensive military in operations abroad.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who is visiting Japan, told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday, "We look forward to Japan making a greater contribution to security in our region and beyond -- including through our alliances with the United States," according to Japan's JiJi Press.
"We support Japan's plan to work towards a more normal defense posture to help it play that greater role," she added.
The reference to a "more normal" defense dismisses Japan's pacifist constitution, which was drafted after its defeat in World War II and bars the country's military from being deployed abroad.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to revise the constitution to allow its military to engage in what is called "collective self-defense," allowing it to send troops to an ally which is in some way under threat.
The U.S. defense and state secretaries, after recent talks with their Japanese counterparts, said Washington supports Tokyo's right to collective self-defense.
Japan's Self-Defense Forces and Australia's military have been bolstering cooperative ties including the exchange of food and fuel.
But Bishop said Australia takes no sides in regional territorial disputes and added that her country maintains solid relations with both China and Korea.
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