Leading news in Japan’s newspaper’s today is a report that the US military is finally compiling detailed plans for a crisis on the Korean Peninsula in cooperation with the Japanese government, the Self-Defense Forces, local governments, and private actors. (See the Yomiuri Shimbun’s article here.)

As the title of this post suggests, the only thing surprising about the reports about revisions to OP 5055 is that it took a North Korean nuclear test for Japan to realize that it couldn’t wait until after a crisis to outline, in detail, what it would do in the event of a crisis in the area surrounding Japan that involved the evacuation of civilians from trouble spots, potential mass casualty medical care, provisions for refugees, and arrangements to allow the US military to use civilian airports and harbors and use civilian transportation.

These talks should have happened ten years ago, after the US and Japan agreed that “situations in areas surrounding Japan” (SIASJ) were of immense importance to the alliance. Waiting until now was terribly risky, and shows how for all the positive developments in the alliance since the 1980s, a lot of work remains to be done.

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