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Koizumi Calls For Japan And US To Update Military Ties

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) May 09, 2006
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Monday he wanted to discuss the possibility of updating Japan's military alliance with America when he meets US President George W. Bush.

"I would like to clearly state my idea when I have talks with President Bush in the future," Koizumi, who is reportedly preparing to visit Washington in late June, told reporters at his office.

Koizumi was referring to a proposal made in Washington last week by his defense minister, Fukushiro Nukaga, to US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld that the two countries update the 1997 guidelines of Japan-US military cooperation.

"I wish to have talks on the basis of all aspects of future Japan-US relations," Koizumi added without elaborating.

When Nukaga, director general of the Defense Agency, made the proposal, he noted the need to consider the new security challenges that have faced the world since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The Nukaga-Rumsfeld meeting was held last Wednesday, two days after the defense and foreign chiefs of the two countries agreed on a package of measures to realign US forces in Japan.

If Koizumi and Bush meet, they are expected to seek "common views by discussing the Japan-US alliance in the world" at a time when the alliance is "matured," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said.

On Nukaga's proposal, the top government spokesman said, "There is a need for deeper discussions among the ministries and agencies concerned and with the US side."

Washington and Tokyo heralded a new era in military cooperation last week by adopting a roadmap for restructuring the US military presence in Japan at a cost of tens of billions of dollars.

They endorsed a package to implement an October 2005 accord for the realignment, which involved the relocation of a key US air base and troops from the southern Japanese island of Okinawa by 2014.

In the most sweeping reorganization of US troops and bases in Japan since the US military presence began at the end of World War II, the two nations would also improve their ballistic missile defense capabilities.

Tokyo has been in a hurry to build such a system with Washington since North Korea stunned the world in 1998 by firing a missile over the Japanese mainland into the Pacific.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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