TOKYO Oct 3 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.
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
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.
North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs have
become an increasing threat for U.S. allies in the region.
Pyongyang conducted a successful ballistic missile launch in
December and a third nuclear test this year, but experts say it
will probably need more tests before it can develop a nuclear
The pariah state has also threatened a nuclear attack on the
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 $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 $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.
The U.S.-Japanese agreement also calls for additional
efforts to realign U.S. forces in Japan and hand back land to
local communities to ensure the political sustainability of the
U.S. defense presence in the country.
The ministers also agreed to rewrite the guidelines for
U.S.-Japanese Defense Cooperation for the first time since 1997.
The guidelines will be updated to bolster the allies'
ability to respond to an armed attack on Japan, expand
cooperation on areas such as counter-terrorism and promoting
deeper security cooperation between the two partners, the joint
The meeting comes as concerns are growing that Japan cannot
protect itself from malicious internet hackers.
"Cyber attacks are getting more and more sophisticated, and
sometimes we cannot defend against them using the systems we
currently have in place," Kazunori Kimura, the Defense
Ministry's director of cyber-defence planning, told Reuters TV.
(Additional reporting by Ruairidh Villar; Writing by David
Alexander; Editing by William Mallard and Raju Gopalakrishnan)