A split is emerging between the United States and Japan over the new Tokyo government's anti-globalisation rhetoric and its threats to end a refueling agreement for US ships in support of the war in Afghanistan.
By Julian Ryall in Tokyo
Published: 4:38PM BST 11 Sep 2009
Yukio Hatoyama, the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, has caused alarm in Washington after publishing an article blaming the US for the ills of capitalism, the global economy and "the destruction of human dignity".
He also intends to examine an agreement that permits US warships to dock at Japanese ports, in violation of the nation's non-nuclear principles. Mr Hatoyama says he will also look again at the $6 billion cost faced by Japan to transfer thousands of US troops from their base in Okinawa to the Pacific island of Guam amid a wide-ranging review of the American military presence on Japanese soil.
His election campaign promised a more "independent" foreign policy from Washington and closer relations with Asian neighbours, including China. On Thursday, he repeated his intention to defy the US and end the Maritime Self-Defence Force's resupply mission in the Indian Ocean.
Mr Hatoyama will be sworn in on Wednesday after an historic victory that ended decades of near unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party. He will have his first meeting with Barack Obama, the US president, at the United Nations on Sep 22.
The Pentagon reminded Japan of the expectations it faced as a "great power and one of the world's wealthiest countries". Geoff Morrell, a spokesman, said: "There is an international responsibility, we believe, for everyone to do their share, as best they can, to contribute to this effort to bring about a more peaceful and secure Afghanistan."
The Defence Department would not "prejudge" Japan's new political leadership, he added.
"We think that when the responsibility of governing comes about that people will appreciate, as we have every reason to believe they do, the importance of this alliance and the importance of working together on these [security] agreements," he said.
Makoto Watanabe, a professor of media and communication at Hokkaido Bunkyo University, said: "The US has been critical of new trends in Japan, but we are not a colony of Washington and we should be able to say what we want.
"The Japan-US relationship will remain our most important bilateral link, but while under previous governments Japan had become a yes-man to the US, this suggests to me that healthy change is taking place."