海兵隊移転協定 民主党は「反米」志向なのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 16, 2009)
DPJ taking wrong stance on marine relocation
海兵隊移転協定 民主党は「反米」志向なのか(4月16日付・読売社説)

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan has reiterated that the Japan-U.S. security alliance is the linchpin of this nation's security. But does the party really regard it this way?

The House of Representatives approved Tuesday an accord that commits Japan and the United States to following through on the planned transfer of U.S. marines from Okinawa Prefecture to Guam by 2014. But the DPJ voted against the accord.

Due to the constitutional superiority of the lower house, the accord will clear the Diet within 30 days regardless of how the House of Councillors votes on the bill.


Opposing accord unwise

Under the accord, 8,000 U.S. marines would be transferred to Guam, and Japan would shoulder 2.8 billion dollars for projects related to U.S. base facilities for the marines in Guam. This would result in a significant reduction in the prefecture's burdens in hosting U.S. bases. The measures must be implemented as stipulated.

The DPJ argued it opposed the accord as the disclosure of information on the relocation plan is not sufficient and the grounds for cost calculations have not been made clear.

Such problems have arisen mainly because the United States has yet to decide on certain details of the relocation plan. Of course, the government should call on the United States to cooperate in disclosing more information and see if it can reduce its financial burden.

But opposing the accord means something very different. It would not be wise to overturn the landmark accord that will see 8,000 U.S. marines leave the prefecture. Such a move would significantly damage the relationship of trust that exists between Japan and the United States.

The DPJ also opposes the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan within the prefecture. This relocation plan is seen as integral to the relocation of marines to Guam. The DPJ stance is that the functions of Futenma Air Station should be relocated outside the prefecture or abroad.

When Japan and the United States reached a basic agreement on the return of Futenma Air Station in 1996, it was premised on the air station being relocated within the prefecture. Even concerned local governments, including the Okinawa prefectural government, have accepted this, although they have called for minor adjustments regarding the location of alternative facilities. This is because the local governments want to see their burdens reduced as soon as possible.

Revisiting the plan to relocate Futenma within the prefecture would mean turning the clock back 13 years. Is the DPJ determined and confident enough to press ahead with undoing every bilateral agreement related to the relocation and to renegotiate with the United States to try to achieve a new agreement that would better serve Japan?

The DPJ also has called for the discontinuation of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean and for a review of the so-called sympathy budget allocation tied to hosting U.S. forces in Japan. DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa has said that the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet alone would be sufficient to secure the U.S. military presence in the Far East in connection with the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

Such remarks could be interpreted as meaning Ozawa is taking an anti-American stance rather than acknowledging the importance of the Japan-U.S. security alliance.


Recognize responsibilities

It is not a bad thing per se to make demands of the United States. But it is a serious defect of the DPJ to make demands while failing to talk about the burdens it would take on to strengthen the alliance.

Prior to the next lower house election, the DPJ should hold intraparty discussions on its foreign policy and security platform so it can present comprehensive policies on these matters. This would be the minimum responsibility that a political party seeking to take power should fulfill.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 16, 2009)
(2009年4月16日01時32分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-16 12:00 | 英字新聞

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