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Sunday, October 30, 2005

U.S. and Japan Agree to Strengthen Military Ties - New York Times

U.S. and Japan Agree to Strengthen Military Ties - New York TimesOctober 30, 2005
U.S. and Japan Agree to Strengthen Military Ties
By THOM SHANKER

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 - The United States and Japan announced Saturday a sweeping agreement to reshape their military alliance, including the reduction of marines on Okinawa and the construction of a new generation of radar equipment in Japan as part of a missile defense system.

After a morning meeting of the two nations' foreign and defense ministers and secretaries, a joint agreement was released calling on Japan to accept more responsibility for its own defense, and requiring the United States and Japan to further integrate planning in case of conflict. The two sides agreed to greater sharing of intelligence and to expand joint military training and exercises.

The document is yet another step in the evolution of modern Japan, which has already grown from a defeated adversary to an occupied nation to an economic powerhouse under the American security umbrella.

The agreement and subsequent statements gave a clear indication of Japan's desire to take an even greater role in global security missions within constitutional constraints imposed at the end of World War II. The meeting came as Japan has troops on a humanitarian mission in Iraq, the first time Tokyo has deployed its forces into a combat zone since World War II.

At a Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the agreement would "ensure a durable, more balanced and surely more capable alliance."

His counterpart, Yoshinori Ono, the director general of the Japanese Defense Agency, said that Japan is ready to move beyond territorial defense to play a greater role in contributing to "peace and security around the world."

But Mr. Ono said Japanese military missions across Asia or around the globe would be for humanitarian and reconstruction efforts, or for logistical support to counterterrorism missions conducted with the United States.

Although the use of the Japanese military beyond its territorial waters has been a striking extension for a nation that accepted pacifist limits in its postwar Constitution, Japan still would not insert combat troops into combat operations outside Japan.

Ending a decade of negotiations on the placement of American troops within Japan, the agreement seeks to remove a severe irritant in relations by reducing American military personnel on Okinawa, where residents complain of noise and crime.

The number of American military personnel in Japan, now about 50,000, will fall by 7,000 with the relocation of some Marine Corps units from Okinawa to Guam.

Anger among Okinawans at the American military reached near-crisis levels in 1995, when a local schoolgirl was raped by American servicemen.

The move also has significance for Guam, an American territory that is taking on increasing strategic importance in the Pacific.

The agreement calls on Japan to deploy the American X-band radar, a part of missile defense that identifies and tracks incoming warheads. North Korea fired a missile over Japan in 1998, shocking the public there.

The relocation of American forces on Japan and the reshaping of bilateral military headquarters is to be completed in six years. The cost of all movements of American forces in Japan will be paid by the Japanese government; no cost estimate was released Saturday at the conclusion of talks among Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Ono, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Japanese foreign minister, Nobutaku Machimura. President Bush is to visit Japan next month.

American and Japanese officials also announced an agreement to remove American aircraft from Futenma Marine Air Corps Station in a southern part of Okinawa that is now highly urban. A large part of the aircraft and crews will move to expanded facilities at an existing base, Camp Schwab, farther north.

The Pentagon news conference was held a day after Japan announced it had agreed to base a Nimitz-class American aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, 30 miles south of Tokyo, in 2008, the first time a nuclear-powered carrier has been allowed to use Japan as its home port.

The Japanese public is especially concerned about the basing of nuclear-powered warships in its territory because Japan is the only country ever attacked with atomic weapons.

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