Obama to Host Japan's Abe at White House
President Barack Obama welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House on Tuesday for an official state visit expected to focus on expanding bilateral defense and economic ties.
Ahead of the visit, Mr. Abe and other top Japanese officials met their U.S. counterparts in New York on Monday and agreed to tighten their defense alliance, a move widely seen as a response to China's growing power.
The revised guidelines help Japan play a larger part in international conflicts, allowing Tokyo to come to the defense of a third country and strengthening its role in missile defense, mine sweeping, and ship inspections.
It is the first time in 18 years the U.S. and Japan have revised their defense guidelines. The move follows Japan's decision last year to reinterpret its pacifist constitution to allow for collective self-defense.
"Today we mark the establishment of Japan's capacity to defend not just its own territory, but also the United States and other partners, as needed," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference.
Kerry also provided fresh assurances that a group of islands claimed by both China and Japan fall under the scope of a mutual defense treaty, meaning Washington is obliged to come to Tokyo's aid in the event the islands are attacked.
South Korea Ferry Captain Sentenced to Life in Prison
A South Korean appeals court has handed a sentence of life in prison to the captain of the Sewol ferry that sank last year, overturning a lighter punishment by a lower court.
The high court in the southern city of Gwangju on Tuesday convicted Lee Joon-seol of the murder of 304 passengers who died when the ferry sank last April off the country's southwest coast.
In November, a lower court sentenced Lee to 36 years in jail after finding him guilty of gross negligence and dereliction of duty for abandoning the passengers, who were mostly high school students on a school outing.
Lee's action "seriously hurt our national image, (and) is not forgivable for any reasons," according to a court statement published by the South Korean news agency, Yonhap.
The court also reduced the sentence of 14 crew members. They will now receive jail terms ranging from 18 months to 12 years, instead of the five- to 30-year sentences handed down in November.