US, Japan to modernize alliance; 1st time in 16 years
Reuters and APTOKYO -- The United States and Japan agreed on Thursday to modernize their defense alliance for the first time in 16 years to address growing concerns about North Korea's nuclear program, global terrorism, cyber intrusions and other 21st century threats.
October 4, 2013, 12:17 am TWN
The move to modernize the U.S.-Japanese defense alliance follows President Barack Obama's decision to strategically rebalance U.S. forces to the Asia-Pacific region following a dozen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Washington's desire for Japan to take a greater role in its defense dovetails with the rise of nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has taken a more assertive approach toward such security issues as a territorial dispute with China and the threat from nearby North Korea.
“Our goal is a more balanced and effective alliance,” U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a news conference after the first “2+2” meeting to be held in Tokyo.
He was joined by Secretary of State John Kerry, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.
The two countries pledged in a 10-page statement to rewrite their guidelines for security cooperation, begin rotational deployments of U.S. Global Hawk reconnaissance drones to Japan and work to address challenges in cyberspace.
The ministers agreed to locate a new X-band U.S. missile-defense radar system at Kyogamisaki air base in Kyoto prefecture in western Japan and formalized a decision to relocate 5,000 U.S. Marines from Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
The decision to bolster anti-missile radar coverage in Japan and move Marines to Guam had been announced earlier, but the joint statement fixed the location of the new missile tracking system for the first time and specified Japan's share of the cost of the move to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Tokyo agreed to contribute up to US$3.1 billion to help move the Marines to Guam from Okinawa, where their presence has often been a source of friction with the local government and population. The move is expected to cost some US$8.6 billion.
U.S. Defense and State Department officials say the location of the new anti-missile radar, which is expected to be installed with a year or so, will help improve tracking coverage of rockets launched toward both Japan and the United States.