U.S. defense secretary Cohen visits Yokosuka base

YOKOSUKA, Kanagawa Pref. — U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen, visiting Japan for talks with Tokyo, urged U.S. sailors at the Yokosuka Naval Base on April 8 to maintain America’s superpower capability in the Asia-Pacific region in the post-Cold War era.

“At the cornerstone of our relationship to be a Pacific power lies the country of Japan,” Cohen told sailors late April 8 aboard the Aegis-class cruiser USS Bunker Hill. “Without having such strong allies, we cannot be a superpower or we cannot have this kind of global reach as you represent today,” he said.

Pointing out that Asia-Pacific stability will enable the U.S. to share the region’s prosperity, Cohen reiterated the need for the U.S. to maintain its military might in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Although Cohen said the U.S. has no intention — and cannot afford — to become the world’s policeman, he added, “By the same token, we cannot afford to become a prisoner or victim of world events.” Cohen did not make a specific reference to a recent incident here in which a U.S. sailor allegedly assaulted a Japanese woman, but reminded the seamen to consider themselves goodwill ambassadors as well as warriors.

During his brief visit to the Yokosuka base, Cohen conferred decorations on a number of sailors aboard the warship and had a luncheon with those sailors from his home state of Maine.