Japan And Us Cement Military Ties

A Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman said Friday that in the course of his upcoming visit to the United States slated for September 8, Defense Minister Youshimasa Hayashi plans to discuss a string of key issues on boosting bilateral military cooperation.

Among other things , the forthcoming talks are expected to focus on rendering a so-called logistical support by Japan to a group of US battleships in the Indian Ocean that are involved in a military operation in Afghanistan. The move should at first get the nod from Japanese Parliament which is to prolong a relevant bill – something that will certainly unnerve many MPs. As for the upcoming visit, it will also highlight efforts to hammer out a plan on reorganization of the US presence on Japanese soil. Although the accord was clinched as back as in 2006, its implementation currently sees a public outcry among local population. Suffice it to mention mass rallies organized in the wake of the deployment of a US military base on the Okinawa island. Many military experts believe that the situation around South Ossetia and Abkhazia as well as Washington attempts to involve Tokyo into an anti-Russian ballyhoo will also top the negotiations’ agenda. At the same time, some analysts hint that Tokyo will hardly move to begin spoiling ties with its immediate neighbor.

Nonetheless, the last few years saw Japan and the US successfully cement bilateral military cooperation, including the joint deployment of missile defense systems. One of these systems is now being installed on Japanese territory and aims to protect both Japan proper and American bases and troops deployed there from a possible North Korean atomic threat. Generally speaking, inflaming tensions around the North’s nuclear program in an artificial way may only add to destabilizing the situation in the Asia-Pacific region. Washington and Tokyo also cite the North’s alleged atomic threat when justifying their drive to continue to expand bilateral military partnership by, notably, creating a joint missile defense shield. As far as Japan defense strategy is concerned, Tokyo pins its high hopes on the American 100,000-strong troops of nuclear deterrence currently deployed in the region. Even more, Japan has its own ground, naval and air Self-Defense Forces as well as space missiles designed to carry out air reconnaissance over neighboring countries. Here, one cannot but mention tremendous funds the Japanese government currently allocates for injecting into the military budget. As for the US missile shield in Asia, it is aimed at targeting not only North Korea but China as well, warns Andrew Chang, a Hong Kong-based military expert. He added that it is inadmissible to point to threats emanating from Pyongyang when justifying the creation of the regional missile defenses. Mr. Chang also pointed out that China has every reason to voice unease over the matter, adding that US plans stipulate the deployment of elements of the missile defense shield also in Japan and Australia.

Aside from missile interceptors, an array of high-power radars will be deployed in the areas – a move that will make it possible for the US to track down China’s launchings of its missiles from the main launch pad in the Shangsi province.

[Source: By Alexander Redchenko, The Voice of Russia, Moscow, 29Aug08]

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