(Sankei: November 5, 2015 – p. 2)
Japan and the U.S. have launched the Alliance Coordination Mechanism (ACM) to ensure the integrated operation of the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military even in peacetime based on the upgraded bilateral defense guidelines signed in April.
The new system will significantly increase the deterrence of the two allies. It will also help facilitate communications and information-sharing between the SDF and the U.S. forces and expedite the decision-making of the two governments. Japan and the U.S. should step up efforts to work out a joint program to flexibly mobilize the SDF and the U.S. forces in the event of an emergency.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, on November 4. In his talks with the highest-ranking U.S. uniformed officer, he noted: “Through this new mechanism, we hope to strengthen the bond of our alliance and deterrence to ensure solid peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.” The ACM serves as a centerpiece of this initiative.
Japan and the U.S. announced the operations of the ACM when they attended an ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Plus meeting held in Malaysia. They conveyed the message that they will protect “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea in an attempt to contain China, which is trying to change the status quo by force.
Japan also expects the ACM to help solidify the country’s defense. The bilateral defense guidelines revised in 1997 did contain a coordinating mechanism between the two countries’ authorities. But it was never put to use, as it was designed to respond to contingencies surrounding Korean Peninsula or directly involving Japan.
The ACM is aimed at providing seamless responses from peacetime through the occurrence of emergencies. It enables Japan and the U.S. to jointly respond to “gray-zone” situations that might not be viewed as armed attacks, including the occupation of remote islands by armed forces disguised as fishermen. They can also work closely in response to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launches through the mechanism.
Criticism is rife that the ACM will put Japan at risk of getting involved in U.S.-related wars and will escalate tensions with China. But these arguments are irrelevant.
Japan, as an independent state, should exchange candid opinions with the U.S. with pride. It should also take the initiative in saying what should be done to ensure peace. The ACM is meant to play this role.
China is responsible for escalating tensions around the Senkaku Islands and in the South China Sea by flexing its military muscles. The ACM is aimed at building deterrence to prevent wars and crises from occurring
We must not forget that the world has entered an era in which peace cannot be maintained if no action is taken.