安保改定50年 日米同盟深化へ戦略対話を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 20, 2010)
Talks needed to boost Japan-U.S. alliance
安保改定50年 日米同盟深化へ戦略対話を(6月19日付・読売社説)

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the automatic ratification of the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty--without the approval of the House of Councillors--amid demonstrators surrounding the Diet building.

There is no question that the Japan-U.S. alliance has played an important role in ensuring peace, stability and economic prosperity in Japan and the rest of Asia during the past half century.

Setting aside the way the revised treaty was approved by the Diet, the political decision of the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi to revise the treaty and maintain the bilateral alliance was correct.

The conflicts surrounding the 1960 security treaty mirrored the Cold War between the East and West abroad and a showdown between conservatives and reformists at home. At that time, this country was completing its postwar reconstruction and entering a period of high economic growth. Public opinion was split over the revised security treaty, with memories of tragic war experiences still fresh in many people's minds.


Govt appeals to public

The government and the Liberal Democratic Party, which were promoting revision of the security treaty, appealed to the public by promising to correct inequalities of the original security treaty signed in 1951 and clarify the U.S. obligation to defend Japan. A group opposing revision, including the Japan Socialist Party, insisted the pact be abolished, saying it would make it easier for Japan to become embroiled in a war.

Lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties, as well as the general public, spent a huge amount of political energy on the issue. After the LDP steamrolled a bill to ratify the revised security treaty through the House of Representatives on May 19-20, 1960, large-scale demonstrations against the security treaty took place.

In mid-June of the year, Michiko Kanba, a 22-year-old University of Tokyo student, was crushed to death during a clash between demonstrators and riot police, and a planned visit to Japan by then U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower was canceled. The Yomiuri Shimbun and six other Tokyo-based newspaper companies issued a joint appeal to the demonstrators that said, "Abandon violence and protect parliamentarism."

Kishi announced his resignation right after the security treaty went into effect on June 23, 1960.

The Japan-U.S. alliance, which was born after many difficulties were overcome, effectively staved off the military threat posed by the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In the post-Cold War period, the bilateral alliance functioned as a deterrent to new threats from regional conflicts, including that on the Korean Peninsula, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. By redefining the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, Japan and the United States came to regard their alliance as a kind of public asset to bolster the stability of Asia-Pacific region.

The Japanese and U.S. governments later reviewed the Guideline for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, increasing the effectiveness of the bilateral alliance.


Reconsidering relationship

South Korea and Southeast Asian nations were now seriously concerned about the deterioration in the Japan-U.S. relationship caused by former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's poor diplomacy--evidence that other Asian nations also perceive the Japan-U.S. alliance as a public asset.

Ironically, Hatoyama's words and deeds, which could have been interpreted as distancing Japan from the United States gave many people a good opportunity to reconsider the Japan-U.S. relationship. It is vital for us to think about how to deepen and develop the Japan-U.S. alliance based on history and past developments in the relationship between the two countries.


The issue of relocating functions of the U.S. Marine Corp's Futenma Air Station is the first thing that needs to be worked on.

In doing so, the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan needs to realize not only that the relocation plan returned to the original plan--building alternative facilities near the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture--but also that the situation has become much worse, as many Okinawans have turned against the plan.

First of all, the government should properly implement the Japan-U.S. agreement reached late last month, which says the location of the alternative facilities and the method for building runways will be decided by the end of August. It also is important to patch up strained relationships with Okinawa Prefecture and the Nago city government, and make tenacious efforts to seek acceptance of the plan.

In November 2003, when he was president of the Democratic Party of Japan, Kan said it was possible to maintain the security of the Far East without U.S. Marine Corps bases and troops being stationed in Okinawa Prefecture.

Kan has clarified he will adhere to the Japan-U.S. agreement on the base relocation plan, but this should not be just ad hoc realism. To build a relationship of mutual trust with the United States, it is necessary for him to break away from his past position on the issue.


Making ties even stronger

Japan and the United States should continually hold strategic dialogues.

How can the two nations realize stability on the Korean Peninsula and persuade China to act responsibly as a major power politically and economically? How should Japan and the United States cooperate with each other and other nations to tackle such issues as global warming, the war on terrorism and disarmament?

By deepening discussions on such issues and by Japan playing more active roles in the international community, the nation could build an even stronger alliance with the United States.

Security is the core of the bilateral alliance. North Korea has been developing nuclear missiles and sank a South Korean patrol vessel in March. China has rapidly been building up and modernizing its military. The Chinese Navy is expanding its operations to wider areas, causing friction with neighboring nations. Japan cannot be so optimistic about its security environment.


Fully preparing for emergencies through close cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces in peacetime will ultimately serve as a deterrence against such emergencies.

The alliance sometimes is compared to riding a bicycle: The inertia of a bicycle will carry it forward, but unless we pedal, the bike will eventually slow down and fall.

To maintain the alliance, it is vital for the two nations to set common goals and work hard together to achieve them. It is also indispensable to make ceaseless efforts to settle pending issues one by one.

It is not enough to merely chant, "The Japan-U.S. alliance is the foundation of Japan's diplomacy."

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2010)
(2010年6月19日01時33分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-20 07:59 | 英字新聞

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