U.S. stresses commitment to defend Japan in Washington talks

WASHINGTON Fri Feb 7, 2014 3:32pm EST

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida listens to questions from a participant during a seminar in Tokyo January 17, 2014. Kishida spoke about Japan's diplomacy for 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida listens to questions from a participant during a seminar in Tokyo January 17, 2014. Kishida spoke about Japan's diplomacy for 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Yuya Shino

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday stressed its commitment to the defense of Japan and stability in the Asia-Pacific region against a backdrop of increasingly assertive territorial claims by China.

After a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship, which both countries say remains robust in spite of a bump after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a controversial war shrine in December.

Kerry said the United States and Japan were committed to closer security collaboration and stressed the long-standing U.S. commitment to defend Japan if it is attacked.

"I ... underscored that the United States remains as committed as ever to upholding our treaty obligations with our Japanese allies," Kerry told reporters after talks with Kishida.

"That includes with respect to the East China Sea," Kerry said. He reiterated that Washington "neither recognizes nor accepts" an air-defense zone China has declared in the region that it disputes with Japan and other Asia nations. Kerry also said the United States would not change how it conducts operations there.

"We are deeply committed to maintaining the prosperity and the stability in the Asia-Pacific," Kerry said.

The United States flew B-52 bombers through the Chinese air defense zone after it was declared last year. U.S. officials have warned that any declaration by Beijing of another such zone in the South China Sea could result in changes to U.S. military deployments in the region.

Kerry said he planned to visit China and other Asia countries next week.

Kishida's Washington visit comes at a time of growing concerns in Tokyo as to the long-term ability and willingness of the United States to defend Japan in spite of President Barack Obama's stated policy of rebalancing America's military and economic focus toward Asia in response to China's growing clout.

SECURITY REVAMP

Such concerns have added momentum to Abe's drive to beef up Japan's air and naval forces while loosening constitutional limits on action that its military can take abroad.

After an agreement drawn up by Kerry and Kishida and their countries' defense ministers last year, the allies have begun revising guidelines on defense cooperation last updated in 1997, aiming to complete a revamp by the end of this year.

Washington has long encouraged Tokyo to take a greater share of the bilateral security burden, but U.S. officials have not made clear if they want Japan to acquire greater offensive capability.

Kerry made no mention of Abe's controversial visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni war shrine, which prompted an expression of disappointment from Washington and chilled Tokyo's often thorny ties with the other key U.S. ally in North Asia, South Korea.

Kishida said there were "difficult issues" between Tokyo and Seoul, but pledged to try to improve ties.

"The Republic of Korea is an important neighbor for Japan, so going forward, we will make tenacious efforts to build our cooperative relationship with the Republic of Korea from a broad perspective," he told the joint briefing with Kerry.

Amid competing claims by Seoul and Tokyo for Obama's time during a planned visit to Asia in April, Kishida said the U.S. president was being invited for a state visit.

According to Japanese media, officials in Tokyo hope the ceremonial aspect of such a visit, rather than an official or working trip, would emphasize the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance and ease the mood over Abe's shrine visit.

Kerry and Kishida emphasized the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral trade pact Obama has been hoping can be concluded by the time of his Asia trip.

Prospects for that have dimmed due to opposition from within Obama's own Democratic Party to granting him fast-track Trade Promotion Authority given concerns that the TPP could cost American jobs.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Will Dunham and Dan Grebler)

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Comments (4)
carlmartel wrote:
The article talks about Abe wanting to “beef up Japan’s air and naval forces,” and a previous Reuters article said that he was considering the “ability to make a pre-emptive strike on enemy bases.” Didn’t Japan make a pre-emptive strike at a place called Pearl Harbor in 1941? How did that work out for Japan? I read about Curtis Lemay’s fire bomb raids with B-29′s in early 1945 that was followed by the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I suspect that Japan should reconsider pre-emptive strikes especially against countries armed with nuclear and thermonuclear weapons because Japanese aggression would not be covered under a “defensive” alliance, so the US could choose to let China clean Japan’s clock without violating its treaty with Japan. I wouldn’t want the former World War II war criminals to drag the US into a nuclear and thermonuclear war with China because Russia, China, and four central Asian countries are in a military alliance. Russia and China might be able to clean America’s clock, and I wouldn’t want that to happen.

Feb 07, 2014 6:45pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Pterosaur wrote:
The US foreign policy is out of control!

Feb 07, 2014 10:20pm EST  --  Report as abuse
yellowjap wrote:
Gods!
Our constitution have 2 major base edition. Now, we need 3rd like your bible having Jewish on 1st, Christians on 2nd, Muslims on 3rd major edition as base. No wonder you call “Tonhe” as lose in Japan. You never bother to learn history as sequence. Japan is the name western call us. So, it simply means US start leaning English from Korea in Chinese reading. “Tonhe” means east sea of China so they also call same in Korea. As educated Japanese I can write several versions of “Tonhe” in Chinese characters because I also trained to read Chinese classics as part of General education in Japan. Although youth in both red China and Korea can’t. In ROC they can.
No wonder ROC is shaking to join red China. So we were.
Constitution before WWII was changing constitution which finally became capitalist-junta based system after introduction of banking. All was after imperial revolution over feudal pyramid which is still in S. Korea and Philippines. (actually, I see the same situation in US, now. Make me worry and start wondering stability of US society.)
So, since Japanese politicians could not make democratic constitution, GHQ wrote draft and congress almost passed as is. GHQ had final rejection right and also repel elected Hatoyama’s cabinet. (This Hatoyama is grand-pa of Hatoyama which lead DPJ to win over LDP. So I shall call ground son as LDP Hatoyama.)
Please check history. Both DPJ and LDP is willing to leave the GHQ constitution. But DPJ Hatoyama is anti-USA, so they actually pass the budget bill to invite all military intel to let them steal your licensed technology to red China. (Old Hatoyama signed treaty with USSR and resigned.)
It’s all about whether we should accept US or repel US keep funding north Korea and red China. Confront start from student fight against current defense treaty in 1950.
I suggest you at least read about Zengakuren, Chongryon and Jeju Uprising. I know south will claim it’s because Japan. But you will find dig hole tradition still lives today in Chinese although red China is only 50 years old. Japan Airlines Flight 351 is a symbolic incident landing in Pyongyang for student fight in Japan. You can obviously smell sponsors at least red China through Korea.
Xi looks quite reasonable. He looks like understanding it takes time for people raised to hate to calm down. He is now just trying to shake our stability. And just trying not to lose joint (with both Korean) human resources in Tokyo. But not looks too hungry. Well, I guess when his dog hunt better in enemy’s land, why the emperor should bother.
Anyway, Korea is not a issue at all. Actually, it’s just a Chess move campaign to make you to push us to join China. We don’t like that. Although quite few of us hate US so much and loved to take invitation. So, we also have to keep distance with Korea and swaying around making next move direct to play with their cards they thought.
Play might be too complex now. So, US politics should shut up if your don’t want see Japan carrying red flag expelling all bases like Philippines. It only take 1 year to finish treaty.

Feb 08, 2014 4:21am EST  --  Report as abuse
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