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2009年11月14日 (土)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 12(IHT/Asahi: November 13,2009)
EDITORIAL: Hatoyama-Obama talks.

A year ago, Barack Obama, who will visit Japan on Friday, won the U.S. presidential election with his slogan of "change." Since he took office in January, Obama has come up with a number of innovative domestic and foreign policies.


International society is watching with interest how Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who also took the reins of government this year, will open new horizons in Japan-U.S. relations together with President Obama.

Both administrations plan to promote multilateral cooperative diplomacy while attaching importance to such global issues as climate change and nuclear disarmament.

We urge both leaders to confirm a solid alliance and draw a vision that is considerably different from the one embraced by the administrations of George W. Bush and the Liberal Democratic Party.

However, the proposed relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, has become a sticking point in the alliance. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pressed the Japanese government to relocate the facility to Henoko in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, as agreed upon three years ago.
But both Japan and the United States do not plan to make the Futenma issue a major item on the agenda at their summit.  だが、その同盟ののど元に太いとげがささっている。米海兵隊の普天間飛行場の移設問題だ。ゲーツ国防長官は、大統領来日までに3年前の合意通り名護市辺野古への移設を受け入れるよう迫ったが、日米とも今回の首脳会談では主要な議題にしない方針だ。

Instead, they decided to seek an early settlement in a ministerial working group. We also think it would be unwise to complicate the summit with this problem.

Yet, the situation is becoming increasingly serious. While the Okinawa governor and Nago mayor are ready to accept the relocation to Henoko, the change of government gave new hope to Okinawa citizens and Nago residents who want Futenma's functions to be transferred outside the prefecture. They are also growing impatient with Hatoyama, who has still not made a decision.

Meanwhile, the dangerous situation of Futenma must be eliminated immediately. If no decision is made concerning the issue, one piece in the reorganization of U.S. forces, all plans to alleviate Okinawa's burden of hosting U.S. military bases, such as the return of Futenma and the relocation of Marines to Guam, would stall.

Hatoyama should frankly explain the difficulty and complexity of the problem when he meets Obama. Instead of avoiding the issue, the leaders should seriously exchange views because the issue affects the very foundation of the alliance.

Whatever decision Hatoyama makes, considerable political energy is needed to change the actual situation. Both leaders need to show a strong political will to settle the problem as soon as possible.

In an interview with Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK), Obama said it was "perfectly appropriate" for the Hatoyama administration to review the Futenma relocation plan. But he also expressed hope that Tokyo will ultimately follow through on the agreement.

Policies may change when a new administration takes over, leading to friction with allies. The maintenance of the Japan-U.S. alliance in an age of government change is now being tested.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Work to redefine the Japan-U.S. alliance in the 21st century and the division of roles started when governments changed hands in both countries. We hope the summit will befit this important occasion.


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