Saturday, September 10, 2011

Noda Urged To Act on Futenma, Guam Agreement


IF NEW Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda does not advocate for the implementation of the 2006 bilateral agreement with the U.S., the military buildup on Guam could cease to transpire, research analysts recently reported.

A research report written Aug. 30 by Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow for Northeast Asia, and Dr. Derek Scissors, research fellow in Asia economic policy in the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, states that Noda must not ignore Japan’s pressing security issues in light of China’s growing assertiveness.

Instead, Noda must bolster his relations with the U.S. and emphasize his position on national security if a military buildup on Guam is to pull through, the analysts said.

“Noda should move behind mere words of support to actually making progress toward building the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) in Okinawa,” the two wrote. “Failure to do so would make proposed U.S. Senate funding cuts to required construction on Guam more likely, thus jeopardizing the entire Guam agreement.”

Several U.S. senators have proposed to reduce military spending overseas, including Guam. One senator proposed to ax the entire Guam military buildup. In his “Back in Black” proposal, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, said the 8,000 marines and their 9,000 dependents could be maintained in the U.S. mainland instead of on Guam.

“Washington should press Tokyo to fully implement the Guam agreement. The U.S. should emphasize that redeployment of 8,000 marines to Guam and return of U.S. bases to local control is dependent on the construction of a replacement airfield on Okinawa,” the analysts maintained.

Klingner and Scissors acknowledged that Noda faces a daunting task of reforming the Japan government following the downfall of former Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

The two criticized Kan for his inability to overcome partisan bickering between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan, and for losing his grip on a country torn apart by multiple natural disasters.

The analysts said Noda must move the tsunami-ravaged country toward living within its means, and identify necessary spending cuts. But, they said, he must make good on Japan’s long-term obligations.

“Noda must emphasize to Okinawa that Japanese national security and Asian peace and stability must trump local convenience. Tokyo should make clear that Japanese expenditures for Okinawan development (which are up for renewal) are conditional on FRF relocation. Non-compliance by Okinawa could result in reductions in Japanese subsidies,” they wrote.

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