"The United States has long worked closely with Japan to build a strong, multifaceted relationship based on shared democratic values and mutual interest in Asian and global stability and development. The desire of the George W. Bush administration to deepen and strength U.S.-Japan strategic relations has caused Japanese analysts and officials to have expectations of a positive shift in the triangular U.S.-Japan-China relationship, but also concern about possibly becoming involved in a explicitly anti-China security posture. U.S.-Japan relations are of concern to Members and Committees with responsibilities or interests in trade, U.S. foreign policy, ballistic missile defense (BMD), and regional security issues. The latter include North Korean nuclear and missile proliferation, China's emergence as a potential U.S. military adversary, and U.S. military bases in Japan, whose importance has been underscored once again in the anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan. Some analysts both here and in Japan question whether the three-party coalition government in Tokyo led by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is ready for a closer U.S. embrace, especially in regard to security cooperation. However, the Koizumi government succeeded in gaining parliamentary approval to send Japanese ships to the Indian Ocean to provide rear-area logistical support to U.S. forces engaged in the anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan. Because of a constitutional ban on offensive military action not strictly for self-defense, Japanese ships will be restricted to non-combat support."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB97004
United States. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers, Bureau of Public Affairs: http://www.fpc.state.gov/