Japan’s defense minister has arrived in Hawaii to meet senior U.S. military officials this week.
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani was scheduled to lay a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial today. He’ll also due to see a ballistic missile defense radar and a guided missile cruiser at Pearl Harbor.
On Tuesday, Nakatani was scheduled to meet with Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.
The Pacific Command said Nakatani will discuss "the continually evolving security environment in the region," including the East and South China Seas. Ballistic missile defense is also on the agenda.
This is Nakatani’s first visit to Pacific Command headquarters since Japan’s parliament approved legislation loosening post-World War II constraints on its military.
The new law would now allow Japanese troops to intercept a missile flying over its territory that is headed for U.S. territory. Under the previous rules, it could shoot down a missile only when aimed at Japan. Or, if an American warship comes under attack, Japanese forces could go to its defense.
The legislation sparked sizeable protests and debate in Japan about whether the country should shift away from its pacifist ways to face growing security challenges.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the law was needed to protect people’s lives and prevent a war.