Japan, U.S. confer on how to "deepen alliance"

15:43, February 04, 2010      

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Japan and the United States held their working-level security consultations on February 2, in a bid to formaly launch their formal talks on how to "deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance". Both sides first defined or realigned four priority areas as the main topics of discussion, namely, nuclear umbrella, information security, the use of outer space and missile defense.

The Japanese participants in the talks included Kazuyoshi Umemoto, director general of the Foreign Ministry's North American Affairs Bureau, and Nobushige Takamizawa, director general of the Defense Ministry's Defense Policy Bureau. And representing the U.S. side were Kurt M. Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Wallace C. Gregson, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs.

The Japanese side said it would determine the relocation site of Futenma air base by the end of May, whereas the American side again asked Japan to fulfill the (original) plan to move Futenma air station to a less-populated coastal area of the U.S. Camp Schwab, also in Okinawa. Wallace Gregson nevertheless said the U.S. administration would not seek an "American-imposed" solution to the dispute.

As a top decision maker of the U.S. policies on Japan, Kurt Campbell noted that the U.S.-Japan alliance needs to "have a broader base". So, it is essential to have an in-depth, penetrating discussion of the Asia-Pacific issue and global issues, such as cyber security, climate change, economic turmoil and natural disasters.

With respect to their relations toward China, Kurt Campbell has indicated that the so-called "equilateral triangle" of the U.S.-Japan-China ties is not as good as the "isosceles" tripartite relationship, for it is meant to say that U.S.-Japan ties are simply the relations of the alliance and the improvement of this bilateral relationship is in the interest of the U.S.

During President Obama's trip to Japan in November 2009, the leaders of the U.S. and Japan reached consensuses on deepening the relationship of the alliance. And the "2+2" meeting of the Japan-China Security Consultative Committee (SCC) would be held in the first half of this year, 2010, to define the orientation of deepening the alliance ties and to hasten the drafting of related documents. The meeting will be partaken by the Japanese foreign and defense ministers and the U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense.

President Obama is scheduled to re-visit Japan in mid November this year. The Japanese side has expressed the hope to decide on the specific content on how to "deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance" prior to his forthcoming trip.

Japanese media reports comment that the Japan-U.S. summit meeting will have to deepen the alliance in the 21st century. Owing to waves of sentiments stirred up by the relocation of the U.S. Futenma Air Station, however, the governments of Japan and the U.S. have given an impression that they are anxious to show their strong relationship as an alliance.

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada hopes that the "Japan-U.S. Security Treaty" would expand the area of cooperation and scope when making amendments to it at the 50th anniversary of the treaty. The "Japan-U.S. Security Joint Declaration", signed in 1996, would extend the framework of the security treaty to the "peace and stability" in the Asia-Pacific region from Japan's "defense" realm only. Okada further noted that he also intends to set up the basis of a joint response in the disputing and impoverished areas.

Meanwhile, the Japanese side hopes to modify the "the Status of Forces Agreement" and re-examine the funding for the US military presence in Japan, according to a former US government official, and the United States would not compromise easily and, instead, there would be possible rifts in the negotiations. Prime Minister Yuko Hatoyama also said that deepening alliance can demonstrate confidence at a Senate Plenary Session on Tuesday, and people however still could not witness where such confidence comes from.

By People's Daily Online and contributed by Yu Qing, PD resident reporter in Japan
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