ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Abe: Japan-US alliance back to normal
Publication Date : 24-02-2013
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declares "the trust and the bond" of the alliance with the US has been mended
Coming off a summit meeting Friday with US President Barack Obama, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared "the trust and the bond" of the alliance has been mended.
His remarks indicated his determination to rebuild a relationship that was damaged by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)-led administrations.
Abe now faces a crucial test of his ability to carry out critical pending projects, such as the relocation of the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture.
Standing next to Obama after their summit meeting Friday afternoon, Abe said, "I think I can declare with confidence that the trust and the bond in our alliance is back."
Abe has repeatedly remarked that Japan's neighbours have been rattling their swords since the alliance was damaged under the DPJ-led administrations. Abe sees a strong alliance with the United States as a key part of keeping countries like China and North Korea in check.
Recently, tensions have escalated between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. In addition, North Korea has conducted its third nuclear test and has been continuing its missile development.
During the summit Obama agreed to cooperate with Japan in resolving problems with North Korea. He also reportedly told Abe that strengthening the alliance would lead to stabilisation of the region. Obama, however, was silent when asked what he thought about the Senkaku Islands row.
The United States' policy that the Senkakus are to be protected under the Japan-US Security Treaty was reiterated to Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida by US Secretary of State John Kerry in their talks after the summit.
A Japanese government source said the US side decided not to touch upon the issue during the summit to avoid irritating China unnecessarily.
Regarding the relocation of the Futenma base to a coastal area of the Henoko district in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, Abe reportedly intends to submit an application to reclaim the relevant sea area to the prefectural government.
Seventeen years have passed since the countries agreed to put the station back under Japanese administration in 1996. The US government is said to have been irritated over the delay.
Abe apparently believes he can show proof of the deepened bilateral alliance by paving the way to realising early relocation of the airstrip, government sources said.
In a separate press conference Friday, Abe said he is eager to hold talks with Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping.
"Mr. Xi and I are similar in age. I recognise it is not easy to govern a country of 1.3 billion people...I think it'll be good for us to have a chance to discuss a variety of things," Abe said.
"I hope China will return to the principle of a 'mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.' The window for dialogue is always open," he added.