Manila: Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday said his country backed Japan`s newly-announced re-armament plan, saying it had been planned with the United States beforehand.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with his Philippine counterpart in Manila, Kerry brushed aside misgivings about Japan`s military spending as he sought to allay concerns over its security implications in the region.
"This is not a sudden response to something or anything that anybody should be upset about," Kerry said.
"Japan has the ability to play a more modern, engaged role. This is something we have been working on, and they have been planning for some period of time," he added.
Even before Japan`s announcement, Kerry said both sides had already been discussing ways to boost Tokyo`s role in the region.
"We are talking about constructive efforts within internationally accepted frameworks for peaceful and appropriate purposes," he said, citing Japanese involvement in humanitarian missions.
He said while it had not yet been decided what role a better-armed Japan would play, the boost to its military assets would give that country "the ability to participate more" in maintaining regional stability.
"We welcome that in the context of our strategic thinking," Kerry said.
Japan today announced it would spend about USD 240 billion to buy stealth fighters, drones and submarines to beef up its defence of far-flung islands amid a territorial row with China.
China, which has simmering territorial disputes with Japan and which still has stark memories of Japan`s brutal rampage in the last century, quickly criticised Tokyo`s plans and said Asian countries, many of which suffered under Japanese occupation during World War II, should closely watch Japan`s moves.
Kerry said Japanese and US foreign and defence ministers had previously laid out "a joint vision of Japanese-US cooperation in terms of security for the region and elsewhere."