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2009年8月23日 (日)

日米同盟 責任分かち信頼を強化せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 23, 2009)
Proactive security stance key to Japan-U.S. alliance
日米同盟 責任分かち信頼を強化せよ(8月23日付・読売社説)

Given that North Korea's nuclear and missile threat has manifested itself, it is necessary to strengthen the Japan-U.S. security alliance to enhance the effectiveness of both bilateral defense cooperation and the combined deterrent force.

The alliance is important, not only in dealing with issues surrounding North Korea but also other concerns.

The establishment of a stronger Japan-U.S. alliance would serve this nation's interests in responding to the worldwide recession, global warming and energy issues. It also would benefit Japan with regards to the nuclear disarmament efforts proposed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Japan's mid- to long-term relations with China, a country that has been moving further toward major power status.

Both the Liberal Democratic Party and Democratic Party of Japan manifestos for the Aug. 30 House of Representatives election name the Japan-U.S. alliance as the main axis of Japan's diplomacy. Despite this, the parties' policies relating to the alliance differ greatly.

As part of its proposed measures to solidify the alliance, the LDP has decided to adopt a policy of partially allowing the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, a longstanding issue, so that Japan could intercept ballistic missiles heading toward the United States and protect U.S. military vessels from armed attacks. It is a welcome move.


Review the Constitution

Japan currently does not have the capability to shoot down missiles heading toward the United States, so gaining that ability is an issue to be discussed in the future. Sticking to the nation's stance of prohibiting missile interception in accordance with the Constitution could shake the Japan-U.S. alliance.

In this regard, it is important for the ruling and opposition parties to work on reviewing the government's interpretation of the Constitution on the matter and establishing a basic law governing Japan's national security in a suprapartisan fashion.

A more solid Japan-U.S. alliance cannot be realized through passive diplomacy under which Japan simply abides by U.S. demands and requests. It is important that Japan adopts a proactive diplomatic stance under which it actively considers how to solve problems, puts forward proposals and plays a role that is in keeping with its strength as a nation.


DPJ behaving irresponsibly

The DPJ's manifesto stresses its slogan of building "a close and equal Japan-U.S. alliance" and stipulates "Japan will fulfill its responsibilities by sharing roles with the United States."

However, what does an "equal" relationship really mean and what kind of roles and responsibilities does the DPJ plan to take on? The DPJ's manifesto fails to address these critical points. The party is acting very irresponsibly if it plans to consider such points only after taking the reins of government.

There is no country in the world that maintains an equal footing with the United States in terms of military strength. U.S. allies are striving to play their respective roles to the extent they can in the international security arena.

In Afghanistan, more than 40 countries are currently engaged in the fight against terrorism, so far enduring the sacrifice of more than 1,300 lives. The DPJ's policy, which will end even the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the far safer Indian Ocean, will never make an "equal alliance" viable.

The DPJ also says the planned relocation within Okinawa Prefecture of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan in the prefecture, which has been agreed between Japan and the United States, should be reviewed and instead the facilities should be relocated outside the prefecture or abroad. However, the Okinawa prefectural government has approved the relocation of the facilities within the prefecture and only requested minor changes in the relocation site.

Reviewing the relocation of the Futenma Air Station is tantamount to scrapping bilateral negotiations and agreements achieved over the past 13 years and would deeply harm the mutual trust built up by the two countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 23, 2009)
(2009年8月23日01時15分  読売新聞)


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