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2009年11月16日 (月)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 14(IHT/Asahi: November 16,2009)
EDITORIAL: Hatoyama, Obama meet.

Two months after their initial meeting in New York, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obama held their first substantive meeting on Friday.

The two leaders both achieved change of government by gaining wide public support, and the two are also facing a harsh gap between campaign promises and reality.

Obama is in the midst of trying to convince Congress to back health-care reform. The situation in Afghanistan, which he called the main battleground in the war on terror, has deteriorated and now is turning into a quagmire.

Hatoyama is in the midst of rearranging the national budget to focus more on "people, not concrete." He also finds himself in a difficult position over his campaign promise to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture to a location outside the prefecture, or outside the country.

For the two leaders, the latest meeting was something they could not allow to fail. That is why they pointed to their agreement on a wide range of issues as evidence of success, but put off a resolution of the Futenma issue.

However, that hardly undermines the significance of their meeting.

The Japan-U.S. alliance has "deepened" as the two nations strengthened their cooperation in numerous areas.

For the Hatoyama administration led by his Democratic Party of Japan, the meeting was meaningful because Hatoyama and Obama confirmed two crucial points:
・The fundamentals of Japan's security and foreign policy are based on the alliance with the United States;
・The two countries will continue to be trustworthy alliance partners in dealing with matters of global importance.

In a region witnessing the rise of China's economic and military power, it will benefit both Japan and the United States to cooperate and strengthen their bilateral ties. This cooperation is essential in order to maintain stability and prosperity in the region. No doubt, the two leaders share this common understanding as the foundation of their discussion for a stronger alliance.

China itself hopes for stability in the region. We hope that Obama, when he visits China this month, will speak of a broad regional framework--how the United States, anchored by its good relations with Japan, intends to collaborate with China.

In Friday's talks, Hatoyama and Obama agreed to work together on issues like global warming and realizing a "world without nuclear weapons."

These are also the issues that Hatoyama pushed during his campaign for the Aug. 30 Lower House election.

We understand that the relationship between Japan and the United States, which has previously been focused on security and economic matters, is now entering a new phase. The Japanese voting public will no doubt welcome this. We hope this becomes the starting point of a new kind of alliance in the 21st century.

An alliance must be a relationship backed and trusted by the people of both countries.

In this sense, it is meaningful that a minister-level working group has been set up to review the existing agreement on the relocation of Air Station Futenma.

This will allow Japan to discuss the issue with the United States backed by the public mandate given to the Hatoyama administration. The focus of the committee's discussions will be the issue of whether or not there is no other relocation option other than Henoko, as was agreed to three years ago.

Hatoyama directly explained to Obama the difficulties of the Futenma issue. At the same time, he also expressed his intentions to resolve the situation as soon as possible. We hope the prime minister keeps his word while tackling the problem, with the understanding that this is something that strikes at the core of the alliance.


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