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2009年11月 7日 (土)

オバマ来日 政府は日米同盟再構築に動け

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 7, 2009)
Govt must do more for U.S. security alliance
オバマ来日 政府は日米同盟再構築に動け(11月7日付・読売社説)

The government has yet to agree to a plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station within Okinawa Prefecture. This plan is backed by the U.S. government and the Okinawa prefectural government. However, the central government is sticking to an alternative idea that is opposed by both. It is hard to understand the government's dithering on this matter.

It appears almost certain that this issue will not be settled before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Japan on Thursday. This likely will strain the Japan-U.S. relationship. We think this is deplorable.

The blame lies basically with the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. The government has been putting off a decision on whether to accept the plan to relocate the air station from the city of Ginowan to the eastern coastal area of the city of Nago, saying it is still examining how the plan was drawn up.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada is pursuing a plan to integrate Futenma Air Station with the U.S. Air Force's Kadena Air Base, which also is in Okinawa Prefecture. But persuading the United States and local governments to drop their opposition to this proposal will be anything but easy.

Most disturbing of all is that the government remains quite unaware of the negative repercussions that could be caused by delaying a resolution of the issue.


Grumbling growing

Since the government called for relocating the Futenma base outside Okinawa Prefecture or even outside the nation--despite such plans being almost completely unfeasible--calls to support the idea have been growing among people in the prefecture. This has vexed the Okinawa prefectural government and the Nago city government, which threw their support behind the current plan not because it was the best one but because it was better than other options.

Members of the U.S. Congress have begun to express their reluctance to allocate funds for transferring 8,000 U.S. marines currently stationed in Okinawa Prefecture to Guam.

To reduce the burden on communities that host U.S. bases in Okinawa Prefecture, we think the government should settle the issue by the end of this year at the latest by accepting the current plan.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean has become another headache for the government. The MSDF's mission is set to be discontinued when a special law authorizing it expires in January, yet the government has not presented any alternative measure.

Hatoyama has insisted he will not agree to a simple extension of the mission. But he also seems unwilling to consider a "not simple" extension of the mission through a revision of the law that requires the prior approval of the Diet, for example.

The government intends to drastically increase its financial aid for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. But mere financial assistance pales as an alternative to sending personnel and providing actual physical support. Working hard on tough jobs with allies and sharing certain risks are essential for establishing international relationships of trust.


Remarks sowing confusion

Hatoyama said he would deepen the multilayered Japan-U.S. alliance as next year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the bilateral security treaty.

But his remarks on delaying resolution of the Futenma issue, ending the refueling mission and reducing the so-called sympathy budget allocations for U.S. forces stationed in Japan have all served to erode the alliance.

The bilateral alliance cannot be deepened unless Self-Defense Forces personnel are actively engaged in international peace and cooperation activities and Tokyo and Washington strengthen their defense cooperation.

One reason behind this disconcerting disarray is the Social Democratic Party--a coalition partner of the Democratic Party of Japan. The SDP has squawked at attempts by the Hatoyama administration to shift policy course on those issues.

Easy compromises are not an option on foreign policy and security issues that affect the very foundation of the nation. Hatoyama must reestablish and strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance relationship--even if he has to twist some arms in the SDP.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 7, 2009)
(2009年11月7日01時43分  読売新聞)


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