U.S. – Japan Defense Background
Secretary Gates will visit Japan January 13-14, and will meet with Defense Minister Kitazawa and other senior leaders of the Japanese government, including Prime Minister Kan. The purpose of the trip is to discuss how best to address recent security developments in the region—including North Korean provocations—and to further develop our long-term agenda for strengthening and deepening the bilateral alliance. The visit will underscore the centrality of the U.S.-Japan relationship for addressing regional and global challenges, now and in the future.
In 2010, the United States and Japan celebrated the 50th anniversary of our Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security in its present form, which serves as the foundation of the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance. Our relationship with Japan continues to underpin the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. military presence in Japan is a fundamental component of the treaty and is essential to deter conflict and to ensure regional peace and stability. Under the terms of the treaty, the U.S. guarantees Japan’s defense and security, and in return, Japan provides basing for approximately 47,000 military personnel and strategic assets. Our Alliance is a unique relationship. Built on common interests and shared values, the relationship has adapted and continues to evolve to address complex security challenges.
Bilateral Areas of Security Cooperation
Broadening our cooperative relationship strengthens and advances our Alliance. For example, U.S. missile defense cooperation has become a central element in the defense relationship with both nations operating BMD-capable AEGIS ships, advanced radar systems, and PAC-3 Patriot missile systems to protect Japan and our forces stationed there. An additional area where we see the potential for greater cooperation is humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, or HA/DR. Both sides have given particular focus to enhancing U.S.-Japan HA/DR cooperation to ensure that we will have efficient participation on new operations. Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) are increasingly deploying alongside their American partners to address humanitarian challenges in the region, as they did in responding to the 2004 tsunami. In 2010, Japan deployed the SDF via U.S. mainland bases to provide relief to Haiti following that devastating earthquake and to Pakistan to assist it with flood relief.
Internationally, Japan has been a quality partner with our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In addition to contributions that have, most notably, helped construct the Ring Road and pay the salaries of the Afghan National Police, Japan’s $5 billion pledge towards civil-sector efforts in Afghanistan will go toward building civilian capacity, the reintegration of militants, demilitarization, and economic development—all critical components of this administration’s Afghanistan strategy. In addition, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force remains active in counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa—an operation that has contributed to regional security and the freedom of global commerce. This has been a ground-breaking operation for the Maritime Self-Defense Force and shows that Japan is committed to international cooperation on maritime security in the region and globally. Japan is a solid partner in our efforts to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Japan has been an active participant in the Proliferation Security Initiative since its inception in 2004, and has hosted multiple live exercises. Japan also has been active in helping other states establish and implement controls on the export of sensitive items, to prevent possible their possible use in an illicit weapons program.
The U.S. applauds the focus the Japanese government has placed on strengthening Japan’s ties with countries in the region. Perhaps the most significant and positive recent development in regional relations has been the strengthening of trilateral ties among the United States, Japan, and South Korea. Our three nations share values, interests, and a common view of the dangers posed by North Korea’s provocative behavior, especially in light of its missile and nuclear developments. Trilateral cooperation among the three nations has been vital in conveying a unified front and a common commitment to move toward complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. A strong U.S.-Japan alliance is also crucial to the success of multilateral cooperation in the region, and we are committed to working with Japan to ensure that Asia’s evolving multilateral organizations are inclusive, transparent, and solution-oriented. The United States and Japan can together make sure that these institutions have the capacity to bolster shared peace, stability, and prosperity throughout the region.
The Defense Policy Realignment Initiative (DPRI) is a bilateral effort to strengthen the operational capacity and political resilience of the Alliance in response to the evolving regional landscape. DPRI is proceeding very well. Concrete examples of its success are many. For example, the new Bilateral Joint Operations Command Center at Yokota has been successfully exercised. A new runway at Marine Corp Air Station Iwakuni allows for the relocation of the fixed wing naval aviation assets from Atsugi provides another example. Although progress on the Futenma Replacement Facility has gone less quickly, the discussions on these issues have served to reinforce a broad consensus in both countries that the bilateral alliance is vital to our shared interests and is bigger than any one issue. The Joint Statement issued on May 28 by Secretaries Gates and Clinton and their Japanese counterparts drew media attention because of its discussion of Futenma relocation, but its significance was far broader. In that document both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the 2006 Realignment Roadmap—an agreement negotiated by different governments on both sides—and in turn, to an enduring U.S. presence in Japan, including on Okinawa. We do recognize that the U.S. presence has real effects on local base-hosting communities. The U.S. is committed to reducing the impact of our presence on Okinawans, and we continue to discuss with the Japanese government ways to do so. Futenma relocation is central to this effort, and we are moving toward a final agreement on the way forward. The May 28, 2010 Joint Statement also added further areas of cooperation that will be leveraged to make our presence on Okinawa more positive. For example, the U.S. and Japan pledged to a “Green Alliance” program, pursuing wherever possible construction practices that would use environmentally friendly techniques. We will explore ways to deliver increased educational, cultural, and environmental programs to the people of Okinawa.