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日米防衛相会談 指針改定で安保協力の強化を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 6, 2012)
Revise defense guidelines to boost security cooperation
日米防衛相会談 指針改定で安保協力の強化を(8月5日付・読売社説)

To maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia, it is essential to steadily strengthen and expand defense cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces.

Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta agreed in a meeting at the Pentagon on Friday that the two countries would jointly "study and discuss" the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, which stipulate methods of cooperation between the SDF and U.S. military during contingencies.

The guidelines were drastically revised in 1997 on the assumption of contingencies on the Korean Peninsula. Over the years, however, the security environment in Northeast Asia has dramatically changed, and defense cooperation between the two countries has developed in various ways. It is time for Japan and the United States to seriously consider revising the guidelines again to deepen their alliance.

In their meeting Friday, the defense ministers also agreed on concrete measures for "dynamic defense cooperation" between Japan and the United States. The two countries will consider conducting surveillance activities in waters around Japan by using the U.S. military's unmanned reconnaissance planes and boost the two countries' joint drills around Guam.


Enhancing deterrent to crises

Dynamic defense cooperation is meant to be a joint undertaking by SDF and U.S. military units. The program aims at enhancing the deterrent against emergencies through repeated joint information-gathering and reconnaissance activities, as well as drills and sharing of facilities.

The two countries are planning to base their surveillance activities in Guam and utilize the U.S. military's Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance planes. These steps are expected to help the two countries share information before the outbreak of various incidents, and consider and discuss how to jointly deal with such events as situations develop.

Also being considered is the preparation of military facilities in Guam and Tinian, part of the Northern Mariana Islands, to be shared by the SDF and U.S. forces, and conducting landing drills and other exercises. We believe such activities will be useful in boosting the defense of remote islands in and around the Nansei Islands, an area of increasing importance.

As for the scheduled deployment of MV-22 Osprey new transport aircraft in Japan, the two defense ministers agreed that the United States will refrain from test-flying the aircraft in Japan until the safety of its flight operations is confirmed. They also agreed that Japan and the United States would give utmost consideration to ensuring the safety of local residents when the aircraft conduct low-altitude flight exercises.

It is quite significant for the defense ministers to have reconfirmed that they would ensure both the Osprey aircraft's safety and their deployment in Japan.


Make most of Osprey info

Based on the latest agreement, the U.S. government is urged to make utmost efforts to provide information on the aircraft's safety and past crashes, and thoroughly implement effective measures to prevent similar accidents from happening again.

The Japanese government will dispatch a team of analysis and evaluation experts to the United States as early as by the end of this week to receive explanations on a report regarding an Osprey crash in Morocco in April. It will be important to closely analyze and verify the accident's causes from Japan's point of view.

After the bilateral meeting, Morimoto took a flight on an Osprey aircraft. He is scheduled to visit Okinawa Prefecture this month to explain Japan's analysis of the U.S. report on the Osprey accident in Morocco.

It will not be easy to dispel local governments' concerns over the aircraft's safety, given their already heightened anxiety. But the government must tenaciously continue explaining in an effort to broaden their understanding.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 5, 2012)
(2012年8月5日01時15分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-07 06:45 | 英字新聞

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