Sunday, February 05, 2017

Mattis: Japan’s cost-sharing for U.S. troops appropriate

The Yomiuri ShimbunVisiting U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Saturday expressed a view that Japan’s cost-sharing for U.S. forces stationed in Japan is appropriate.
At a press conference held after a meeting with Defense Minister Tomomi Inada in Tokyo, Mattis described Japan’s cost-sharing as a “model.”
“We can point to our Japanese-American cost-sharing approach as an example for other nations to follow,” he said. The issue of cost-sharing, however, was not taken up during the meeting, which was held for about 1 hour and 25 minutes at the Defense Ministry.

As in the previous day’s meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mattis again expressed concern over China’s aggressive expansion in the East and South China seas and made it clear that Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which obliges the United States to defend Japan, would be applied to the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
Saturday’s meeting was aimed at confirming Japan-U.S. security cooperation ahead of Abe’s meeting with Trump, scheduled for next Friday. Mattis became the first of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Cabinet members to make a visit to Japan.
Regarding the Senkaku Islands, Mattis explicitly said, “The United States will continue to recognize Japanese administration of the islands, and as such Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty applies.”
Given that Chinese government ships have repeatedly intruded into Japan’s territorial waters around the islands, Mattis said he would oppose any unilateral action intended to undermine Japan’s administrative control.
As for China’s land reclamation work on rock reefs and construction of military facilities in the South China Sea, Inada expressed support for the U.S. military’s stepping up of its pressure on China through “freedom of navigation operations.” She then said that Japan will also strengthen its commitment through Capacity Building Assistance programs extended to member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
On North Korea’s accelerated moves to miniaturize nuclear warheads and develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, Inada and Mattis agreed that these actions have become grave security threats to Japan and the United States as well as to regional stability. The defense chiefs also reconfirmed that the two nations would maintain extended deterrence with the United States’ nuclear umbrella.
With regard to the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to the Henoko district in Nago in the same prefecture, Inada and Mattis shared the view that the current plan is the only solution. Inada called on the U.S. side to cooperate in reducing the burden on Okinawa Prefecture in hosting U.S. military bases.
Although the issue of cost sharing for U.S. forces in Japan was not taken up during Saturday’s talks, Inada said at a joint press conference, “I consider Japan’s share of the burden as appropriate.” She then stressed, “Japan intends to strengthen its defense capabilities both in quality and quantity and expand the roles it can fulfill.” Mattis positively evaluated Japan’s efforts, saying that related budgets have increased under the Abe administration amid a worsening security environment.
However, Trump indicated during the presidential election campaign that he would seek increases in the costs shouldered by Japan and South Korea for U.S. troops stationed in each nation. This issue will likely remain a focal point during the Abe-Trump meeting, according to sources.
Main points from Inada-Mattis meeting
■The cost of hosting the U.S. military in Japan was not discussed at the meeting, but in the joint press conference, Mattis expressed recognition that Japan’s contribution is appropriate.
■They agreed on strengthening the capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance in relation to deterrence and countermeasures.
■The serious threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile development to the security of Japan, the United States and the region was addressed.
■Security concerns relating to China’s activities in the East and South China seas were discussed. Mattis confirmed that the Senkaku Islands are within the scope of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
■They confirmed the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to the Henoko district of Nago. Inada requested a reduction of the burden of hosting U.S. military bases in Okinawa Prefecture.Speech

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