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2010年4月 1日 (木)

日米外相会談 同盟深化の共同作業を怠るな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 1, 2010)

To solve the base problem, mend fences with U.S. first
日米外相会談 同盟深化の共同作業を怠るな(3月31日付・読売社説)

To settle the dispute over where to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, it is vital to steadily promote the joint process aimed at deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday and reaffirmed the Japanese government's goal of resolving the Futenma relocation issue by the end of May.

Okada explained the Japanese government's relocation proposals, which comprise the options of moving the base's functions to a land-based section of Camp Schwab, which straddles Nago and Ginozason in the prefecture, and an offshore area of a U.S. naval facility in White Beach on the Katsuren Peninsula in Uruma, also in the prefecture.

But the United States is sticking to its position that the existing plan of relocating the Futenma functions to the coastal area of Camp Schwab is the best option.


Govt lacks a strategic vision

Since the launch of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's administration, the dispute over the Futenma relocation has taken twists and turns because of the prime minister's irresponsible statements and immature political style. But the government can no longer be allowed to postpone dealing with this problem.

Because the government-proposed plans entail a number of problems, such as opposition from local governments concerned, it is advisable that the Hatoyama Cabinet not exclude the option of relocating the air station to the coastal area of Camp Schwab so the issue can be settled by the end of May as promised.

What is needed now to resolve the Futenma issue is the restoration of a relationship of trust between Japan and the United States.

A relationship of trust between the two countries cannot be nurtured with such superficial statements as "The Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of [Japan's] diplomacy," or "Trust me."

The realignment of U.S. forces stationed in Japan is essentially aimed at simultaneously attaining two goals--maintaining the deterrence capability of the U.S. forces and reducing the burdens on local governments and residents hosting U.S. military facilities.

But the Hatoyama administration has put too much emphasis on the second goal and lacks a strategic vision concerning how Japan and the United States should jointly deal with security issues in East Asia. This has resulted in growing suspicions and frustrations within the U.S. government over whether it can really regard Japan as its ally.


Build trust step by step

So what needs to be done?

Current circumstances and future developments in China and North Korea need to be analyzed and evaluated, and the results of such studies shared by the two countries' leaders and ministers. In addition, discussions should be deepened on what forms of cooperation Japan and the United States should promote in both the diplomatic and defense fields.

As for issues taken up during Japan-U.S. foreign ministerial talks, such as Iran's nuclear ambitions and Myanmar's democratization movement, the two countries will need to discuss how they should work with other countries and put into action what has been agreed.

Undertaking a series of such efforts will help restore the two countries' relationship of trust as allies. Only through such confidence-building measures will the two countries be able to make concessions on the points on which they can do so and find areas of compromise in such difficult negotiations as the Futenma relocation issue and the so-called sympathy budget, or the portion Japan pays of the cost of maintaining U.S. forces stationed in the country.

As Gates has pointed out, it will be difficult for the two countries to come up with a successful outcome in deepening the alliance to mark the 50th anniversary of the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

It is important for the two countries to prevent the Futenma issue and the process of deepening the alliance from falling into a vicious circle and act in a way so progress is made in a virtuous circle.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,March 31, 2010)
(2010年3月31日01時25分  読売新聞)


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