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2009年8月25日 (火)

社説:視点 衆院選 日米と民主党 「対等」の中身を語れ=論説委員・岸本正人

(Mainichi Japan) August 24, 2009
DPJ should clarify 'equal partnership' between Japan and U.S.
社説:視点 衆院選 日米と民主党 「対等」の中身を語れ=論説委員・岸本正人

It has been seen as a taboo for the Japanese government, which regards the Japan-U.S. alliance as the core of its diplomatic policy, to make an assertion that is not consistent with the position of the U.S.

A report published by an advisory council on defense to the administration of former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa in the early 1990s placed a multilateral security arrangement involving East Asia and a stance to attach importance to the United Nations ahead of the Japan-U.S. security arrangement. This gave the U.S. government the impression that Japan attached less importance to the Japan-U.S. alliance, making Washington aware of the necessity to redefine the agreement.

In its manifesto for the House of Representatives election, the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) characterizes the Japan-U.S. alliance as the basis for Japan's diplomatic policy. Just like the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the DPJ attaches particular importance to Japan's ties with the United States.

At the same time, however, the DPJ pledges to form a close and equal partnership between the two countries. A statement made by a diplomat claiming that, "It is for Japan's national benefit to keep pace with the U.S.," has justified the LDP-led administration's policy of following in the footsteps of the U.S. The DPJ's direction obviously differs from LDP policy.

The question is how to define this equal partnership. The DPJ's manifesto calls for the creation of a proactive diplomatic strategy, the division of roles between Japan and the United States and fulfillment of Japan's responsibilities. However, it stops short of clarifying specific details. This is why the DPJ's stance toward the United States remains obscure.

An amendment of the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement, the reorganization of U.S. forces in Japan and a review of U.S. bases in Japan, which are all covered in its manifesto, are important policy issues, but they alone would not be enough for forming the basis for establishing an equal partnership.

The equal partnership, which is based on a wide gap in military strength between the two countries, should consist of three factors.

Firstly, Japan should strengthen its cooperation with the United States in tackling global challenges, such as climate change and other environmental problems as well as countermeasures against poverty and infectious diseases. Japan's technology will be helpful in these fields. Japan's proactive contributions to international efforts to ensure peace, including nuclear disarmament and arms control, will also be of great significance. Japan's influence on the United States, which is a military superpower, will be tested in these fields.

Secondly, the DPJ should clarify the role Japan should play and the direction of the Japan-U.S. cooperation in building a new order in East Asia. Policy toward China and North Korea will be the pillar of these efforts. Japan's proactive stance will be a key to its success.

Thirdly, the largest opposition party should clarify its policy on Japan's peace-making efforts, such as active participation in United Nations' peace missions, which may call for use of the Self-Defense Forces, as well as Japan-U.S. cooperation in defending Japan. The pros and cons of strengthening nuclear deterrence based on the nuclear umbrella and exercising the right to collective self-defense will be the key points of contention.

It is impossible to discuss an "equal partnership" solely from a military viewpoint. However, it is true that Japan-U.S. relations could not be defined without the third point.

It is becoming increasingly realistic that a DPJ-led administration will be formed following the House of Representatives election. DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama is urged to show his clear vision on Japan-U.S. relations.

毎日新聞 2009年8月23日 東京朝刊


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