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[EDITORIALS]The U.S.-Japan alliance

May 02,2006
On May 1 in Washington, the foreign ministers and defense ministers of the United States and Japan held a meeting of the Security Consultative Committee and confirmed a road map for the relocation of U.S. Army bases in Japan.
The relocation of the U.S. bases in Japan, which is planned to be completed by 2014, will enhance the two countries’ ability to conduct joint military strategies and will expand Japan’s Self-Defense Forces’ functions in the Asia-Pacific region.
The military integration of the Japan-U.S. alliance, claimed as an Asian version of the U.S.-Great Britain alliance, is coming into reality.
As United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, Japan has established its status as the closest U.S. ally, who shares in the responsibility to guarantee safety in the world.
The military cooperation between the two countries came at the same time that we are worried about Japan’s strengthening its military power. This can have an enormous impact on Northeast Asia. Some people already are concerned that U.S. bases in Japan could become the command posts should a war break out on the Korean Peninsula.
While China has been rapidly emerging as a new power, China and South Korea are having confrontations with Japan over Japan’s wrongdoings in the past and its territorial claims. There are also problems surrounding North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs and Taiwan’s relations with mainland China.
In this situation, the strengthening of the U.S-Japan alliance while U.S-China and China-Japan relations are strained could have a huge impact on the Korean Peninsula. The only realistic alternative to calm the worry is to strengthen the South Korea-U.S. alliance.
But what is the reality here? Transfers of the U.S. Army bases are facing difficulties because of opposition by vehement protests by people in Gyeonggi province. Negotiations on who pays the costs of the transfer are on hold. If China and Japan formed an alliance, we could be driven into a corner. The South Korea-U.S. alliance should be strengthened, at least in order to become mediator between the United States and China.
Contrary to some experts’ worries, others argue that the Pyeongtaek base could become an important link for a mediator. We also need to look at a free trade agreement with the United States in this respect.


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