The US and Japanese militaries are working together as never before, clearly stretching the definitions and traditional practice of Japanese "collective security." With "Operation Tomodachi" American military supplies are being transported on Japanese Self-Defense Forces planes, and vice versa. American officers are coordinating closely with their Japanese counterparts. That this "exercise" will extend beyond this disaster to combat preparation may be an expectation missing an assumption.
The US military seriously undermined its credibility and ability to deliver aid to the Japanese people by keeping its personnel outside the 50 miles radius of the disintegrating Fukushima nuclear facility. Although this area is a fraction of the disaster zone, it creates the impression that the US is really not committed to going shoulder-to-shoulder with their Japanese allies.
Japan's Prime Minister Naoato Kan will visit Fukushima on Monday, March 21, and he will be just outside a 20-mile radius of the nuclear crisis site. [UPDATE Trip canceled due to bad weather]
The message to the average Japanese is that the US is not willing to share every danger with Japan. To many, there is not much difference between taking bullet or absorbing some radiation. The US is supposed to be committed to the defense of Japan, not matter the definition. This impression is cemented by the panicked exodus of American and European ex-pats from Japan that has been encouraged by their embassies.
This Week in Defense News is one of the best Sunday morning talk shows. Here is today's piece on the possible security implications of Japan's earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown with Paul Giarra: