With North Korea hell-bent on firing missiles into the Sea of Japan, and Japanese leadership may be unsure of Barack Obama's stoutheartedness in honoring the over half century old mutual defense treaty, for the first time since the end of the Second World War Japan is making its own military decisions independent of the United States, as reported on April 5, 2014 by both the Reuters news agency and also in a separate Reuters report via the South China Morning Post.
In the wake of North Korean absolute dictator Kim Jong-un seemingly testing Japanese readiness and resolve, the portly Pyongyang oppressor has been slinging medium range Rodong ballistic missiles towards Japan, but falling into the sea before reaching the Home Islands.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has issued orders to Nipponese Armed Forces to no longer play wait-and-see if the missiles fall short; from now on, blow them out of the sky.
Speaking on grounds of anonymity, a confidential source told Reuters that Minister Onodero's order is "to prepare for any additional missile launches," and that an Aegis guided missile destroyer "was dispatched to the Sea of Japan and will fire if North Korea launches a missile that Tokyo deems in danger of striking or falling on Japanese territory."
With Tokyo taking the lead in confronting North Korean aggression in the region, there has been doubt raised in Japan concerning the strength of will of Barack Obama regarding standing up to the Chinese claim of sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands.
As reported, the White House appears to be playing both sides of the fence as "Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the islands" although the Obama Administration reportedly "recognizes that Japan administers them and says they fall under the US-Japan Security Treaty."
Regardless, the string of Obama's global military missteps ranging from the Russian invasion of the Crimea, to the alienation of Israel, to the continued and unchecked gains in Iran's nuclear weapons program have left many allies looking at Washington with a jaundiced eye.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been making moves "to beef up Japan's forces" while seeking to loosen limits on the nation's military actions due to the "peace constitution" forced on them by the Americans after their surrender in 1945.
Prime Minister Abe has been seeking to amend the nation's Self Defense Forces (per the current constitution, Japan cannot have a standing army, navy or air force) as so the nation can participate in a broader definition overseas contingencies, as well founding their own amphibious assault force modeled after the US Marine Corps.
There has already been whispers that the Tokyo government is already a de facto member of the nuclear club due to the poorly kept secret that they are in possession of a "bomb in the basement."