United States, Japan Reaffirm Commitment on Security Cooperation
Washington - The United States and Japan reaffirmed the importance of their alliance and the security relationship on which it is based at a ministerial level meeting in Washington May 1.
A joint statement released following the "two-plus-two" meeting of the United States-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC) - referred to as such because it involves the two countries' top foreign affairs and defense officials - calls for expanded cooperation on a wide range of strategic objectives.
"This strong partnership is increasingly vital in meeting global challenges and in promoting fundamental values shared by both nations, including basic human rights, freedom, democracy, and the rule of law," according to the statement.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Aso and Japanese Minister of State for Defense Fukushiro Nukaga agreed to increase collaboration in several areas, including plans to rebuild infrastructure and strengthen democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, efforts to convince the government of Iran to suspend uranium-enrichment activities and reform initiatives in the Middle East region overall.
The officials also renewed their commitment to the joint statement negotiated at the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks in September 2005 on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. They urged the government of North Korea to "return expeditiously to the talks without preconditions, to dismantle its nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and to cease all illicit and [nuclear] proliferation activities." (See related article.)
REALIGNMENT OF U.S. FORCES IN JAPAN
Following up on an October 2005 SCC initiative, the ministers approved an implementation plan for realignment of U.S. military forces based in Japan.
"The measures to be implemented demonstrate the resolve of both parties to strengthen their commitments under the U.S.-Japan Security treaty, and at the same time, to reduce the burden on local communities, including those on Okinawa, thereby providing the basis for enhanced public support for the security alliance," according to the statement. (See related article.)
Details of the implementation plan have been laid out in a report, "United States-Japan Road Map for Realignment Implementation,"according to the officials.
Speaking with reporters following the SCC meeting, Rumsfeld said the two sides had agreed to relocate two U.S. air bases from urban to rural areas, and are planning to develop a larger role for the island of Guam in the U.S.-Japan alliance and the security architecture of the Asia-Pacific region.
The ministers also committed to continue joint efforts to achieve other SCC strategic objectives, including strengthening cooperation in ballistic missile defense, bilateral contingency planning, intelligence and information sharing and improved interoperability of U.S. forces and Japan's Self-Defense Force.
"We have no better friend than Japan," Rice said after the meeting. "All in all, this is a very strong relationship. It is a relationship that has evolved from its early days and is now truly a pillar not just of regional, but of global stability."
For additional information on U.S. policy, see East Asia and the Pacific.