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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 February 1 - 7  > End Abe politics putting absolute priority on Japan-US alliance
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2017 February 1 - 7 [POLITICS]
editorial 

End Abe politics putting absolute priority on Japan-US alliance

February 5, 2017
Akahata editorial

New U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis held talks with Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and Defense Minister Inada Tomomi during his first visit to Japan. Mattis announced the continuation of the planned construction of a new U.S. base in the Henoko district in Okinawa’s Nago City and offered the protection provided by the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” based on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. He also welcomed Japan’s share in the cost for the stationing of the U.S. military in Japan. Abe and Inada pledged to strengthen the nation’s military capabilities and expand the Self-Defense Forces’ role under the national security laws (the so-called war laws) which converted the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty into a global-scale military accord. Fully ignoring public opposition to the Henoko base construction and to Abe’s move to create a war-fighting Japan, the two governments’ top officials confirmed the Japan-U.S. alliance as being solid. However, its dangerous nature has become crystal clear.

Insulting stance toward Okinawans

Mattis was quoted as saying that Henoko is the only viable option. In the meeting with Abe, he stressed that the Trump administration maintains its predecessor’s position that Henoko is the only place to build a replacement base for the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station (Okinawa’s Ginowan City).

Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi was visiting the U.S. with the aim to convey Okinawans’ opposition to the U.S. base construction and lobby the U.S. government to consider other options when the U.S. defense chief made the remark insulting anti-base Okinawans. It is understandable that the Okinawa governor criticized Mattis by saying, “The Defense Secretary said rude things to Okinawans. If (the two governments) stick to the view that Henoko is the only solution (to resolve the Futenma issue), it will raise serious issues concerning the future of the bilateral alliance framework.”

Meanwhile, asked about Japan’s burden of hosting U.S. troops in Japan at a joint press conference after the bilateral defense summit, Inada regarded it as at an “appropriate” level and Mattis praised Japan as a “model among other allies.”

The FY 2016 budget allots 764.2 billion yen to the cost of maintaining U.S. military facilities in Japan. This budget allocation is remarkably high compared to other host nations. Germany, South Korea, and Italy, for example, bear 30-40% of the total expense of U.S. forces stationed in their countries while Japan bears about 75%. This is inconsistent with the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which stipulates that the U.S. administration should bear the costs of stationing its forces in Japan. Instead of shouldering a supposed “appropriate share of the burden”, Japan should reduce and eventually stop paying the costs for the U.S. military bases here.

It should also be noted that Mattis during talks with PM Abe reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to “defend Japan” and “maintain nuclear deterrence” based on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

However, in regard to the issue of “U.S. defense obligations towards Japan”, PM Abe said that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan has its homeport at the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka City in order “not exclusively to protect Japan” (February 2, Lower House Budget Committee). In addition to the aircraft carrier, the U.S. Marine Corps stationed mainly in Okinawa also has nothing to do with the “defense of Japan”. Nevertheless, Japan accepts the presence of the U.S. carrier vessel and Marines whose primary functions are to engage in military sorties anywhere in the world. Such a stance should be called into question.

Going against global move to abolishing nuclear weapons

“Nuclear deterrence” as Mattis reaffirmed in the meeting with Abe means to place Japan under the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” by not ruling out the use of nuclear weapons. U.S. President Trump in December last year said, “The United States should greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.” Japan, giving in to this U.S. pressure, voted against the UN General Assembly resolution calling for the start of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention. It is highly probable that Japan, in subservience to the Trump administration, will maintain the position of turning its back on the global effort to abolish nuclear weapons.

It has increasingly become a pressing challenge to press the Abe government to make a shift in its policy of embracing the “Japan-U.S. alliance as absolute”.

Past related article:
> Shii: Abe gov’t should abandon ‘Japan-U.S. alliance first’ approach [ January 27, 2017]
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