And all this time we were led to believe that Article 9 of Japan’s US-written Constitution forbids Japan from having any military role in Asia, save for defending itself from invasion. Apparently, the US lost their copy of the Constitution.
The following is part of a recent 3000+ Wikileaks document drop of a cable sent from Eric G. John, US ambassador to Thailand in late January 2010, which purpose was to prepare for the visit of Admiral Robert F Willard, Commander, US Pacific Command.
12 (C) By means of access to good military base infrastructure and large areas to conduct unrestricted operations, Thailand gives the U.S. military a platform for exercises unique in Asia. Thai leaders are far more willing to host multinational and bilateral exercises than are other countries in Asia. This has allowed us to use exercises in Thailand to further key U.S. objectives, such as supporting Japan’s growing military role in Asia and engaging the Indonesian and Singaporean militaries.
13. (C) Cobra Gold, the capstone event of our exercise program, is the largest annual multi-lateral exercise in the Pacific region and for 29 years has served to strengthen our relations with Thailand, highlight our commitment to Southeast Asia, and provide exceptional training opportunities for our troops. The event has evolved over the years and now facilitates important objectives such as promoting a greater role in the Asian Pacific region for Japan, Singapore, and South Korea and re-establishing a partner role with Indonesia.
This must be news to the Japanese government which has yet to anyone details on this growing military role. Sadly, in another communique from 2007 describing a visit by Chinese diplomats, they expressed optimism in having better relations with Japan.
Chinese diplomats predicted that although the
Thai-Singaporean relationship is currently tense, it would
not worsen. They also expressed optimism that Japan’s new PM
Shinzo Abe’s term would translate into an upturn in
7. (C) XXXXXXXXX expressed optimism in the new Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe. XX noted that Sino-Japanese relations
has dramatically improved since Abe’s term and expected the
relationship to continue to improve under his government.
XXXXXX stated that there is ”still time for Abe to show his
ability,” and confirmed that Chinese President Hu Jingtao
will visit Japan in April.
My how things have changed since first Obama and then Kan took power in their respective countries. And not for the benefit of Japan, though the US has retained a much trumpeted reason for remaining on Okinawa. They just can’t have Japan and China making nice to one another. And they are doing everything they can to make sure it doesn’t happen.
While in Tokyo on December 9, Mullen said that North Korea’s “reckless behaviour…enabled by their friends in China” was the cause of the fact that “Northeast Asia is today more volatile than it’s been in much of the last 50 years.” In Seoul the day before he called on Japan, notwithstanding its constitutional prohibition against what is deemed collective self-defense and collective security, to play an active role in tripartite military exercises with the U.S. and South Korea.
After meeting with Japan’s leading defense and military officials, Mullen said “he had ‘a real sense of urgency’ about the need for Washington, Tokyo and Seoul to enhance security cooperation to deter North Korea.”  In his view, the participation of South Korean military observers in the U.S.-Japan Keen Sword exercise was “a terrific first step to broadening our trilateral relationship and deepening our collective readiness.”
Late this October the recently upgraded JS Kirishima destroyer fired an SM-3 missile 100 miles over Hawaii to bring down a ballistic missile target, a “significant milestone in the growing cooperation between Japan and the U.S. in the area of missile defense.” 
Commenting on Japan’s new military blueprint, the New York Times revealed that the country’s “sweeping overhaul of its cold war-era defense strategy” will be released as “the United States is making new calls for Japan to increase its military role in eastern Asia in response to recent provocations by North Korea as well as China’s more assertive stance in the region.”
“The United States has used Japan’s concerns as an opportunity to strengthen ties with the country, its largest and most important Asian ally, and to nudge Japan toward a more active role in the region. In particular, Washington has proposed stronger three-way military ties that would also include its other key regional ally, South Korea.”
“Japan has slowly begun to shed some of the postwar [restrictions] against a larger Asian role for its military, known as the Self-Defense Forces, one of the largest and most technologically advanced in the region.”
Did we miss that Diet debate and subsequent legislation repealing Article 9? And with Obama keen to invade countries just about anywhere and for reasons as vague as protecting civilians (who then are blown up), who knows where the US is leading Japan. Maybe somebody ought to start worrying. To be sure the Chinese are.