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2016年9月18日 (日)

日米防衛相会談 北の脅威に共同対処を強めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Bolster Japan-U.S. joint actions to cope with North Korean threats
日米防衛相会談 北の脅威に共同対処を強めよ

It is essential for Tokyo and Washington to establish a closer cooperation system for conducting joint operations flexibly and expeditiously amid the increasingly severe security environment around Japan.

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada met with her U.S. counterpart Ashton Carter in Washington to discuss security issues. Regarding North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, Inada and Carter agreed they pose “grave threats to the national security of both Japan and the United States.”

North Korea has been pushing its nuclear weapons program with the aim of completing and deploying missiles equipped with nuclear warheads. It is necessary to seriously recognize that North Korea’s nuclear miniaturization technology and missile firing accuracy have improved considerably after the repeated tests and launches.

Carter reaffirmed the United States’ nuclear deterrence for the defense of Japan. This can be regarded as enhancing the deterrence against Pyongyang’s provocations.

It is imperative for the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military to steadily expand their range of information sharing and joint warning and surveillance activities. We suggest the encirclement around North Korea be strengthened by making greater efforts to conduct multilateral military exercises and promote defense cooperation with countries including South Korea, Australia and India, in addition to Japan and the United States.

With regard to the frequent intrusion of Chinese government vessels into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands, Inada said it amounted to an “infringement of Japan’s sovereignty,” so “is absolutely intolerable.”

Carter reaffirmed that the Senkakus fall under Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and expressed opposition to China’s unilateral action. This is very significant.

Strengthen encirclement

Regarding China’s militarization of man-made islands in the South China Sea, Inada and Carter shared the view that it amounts to an act that heightens regional tensions and is a matter of concern for the international community.

Beijing has not changed its stance of disregarding an arbitration court ruling in July that invalidated Chinese sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. Any attempt to change the status quo by force and to make it a fait accompli cannot be allowed. Both Japan and the United States should continue assisting coastal nations of the South China Sea to enhance their maritime security capabilities through the provision of patrol boats and fostering personnel.

At a lecture in Washington, Inada strongly endorsed the patrol activities of U.S. military vessels around the artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea. She also mentioned a plan for Japan to increase its engagement there, including through joint naval exercises with the U.S. military.

To prompt China to exercise self-restraint in expanding its maritime advances backed by military force, it is imperative for not only the United States but also Japan and other relevant countries to work together actively and apply pressure on China.

Concerning the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, Inada reassured Carter the Japanese government’s position that “the relocation to the Henoko district is the only solution” is unchanged. She called for U.S. cooperation in tackling the issue of moving Osprey transport aircraft training sites outside Okinawa Prefecture. Carter took a forward-looking stance toward her request.

To ensure the continued and smooth stationing of U.S. troops in Japan — the bedrock of the bilateral alliance — the two countries must make greater efforts to reduce the burden on Okinawa.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 17, 2016)


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