Alliance unfazed by Tamogami: U.S. general

by Jun Hongo

The revisionist essay by the former chief of the Air Self-Defense Force that has caused a controversy over Japan’s wartime role will not affect the country’s security alliance with the United States, the commander of U.S. Forces in Japan said Tuesday in Tokyo.

The essay by Gen. Toshio Tamogami has caused a stir both at home and abroad, as it defends Japan’s military aggression in the 1930s and ’40s and condemns the U.S.-led postwar military tribunal that convicted many Japanese leaders of war crimes.

However, Lt. Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr. was keen to stress that ties between Tokyo and Washington remain strong.

“The government of Japan was very quick to underscore that (Tamogami’s views) were not the official views of the government of Japan or the Self-Defense Forces. I am personally satisfied that that is the case,” he said in a speech Tuesday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

Tamogami was sacked from his post Friday and retired from the ASDF Monday after justifying Japan’s invasion of Asia in the essay submitted to a writing competition.

Tamogami also wrote that Japan was “trapped” by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt into attacking Pearl Harbor.

But Rice, who in February assumed his post as the top U.S. military officer in Japan, was keen to assure that the incident will not influence bilateral ties.

“As the commander of the U.S Forces in Japan, I intend to continue to work very closely with the SDF in accordance with the policies that have been outlined for us by our two governments,” he said.

Speaking on the eve of the U.S. presidential election, Rice stated that the U.S.-Japan alliance will remain strong regardless of who wins the race.

Ties between Tokyo and Washington “continue to constitute the bedrock of Japan’s defense, and remain the keystone to the security and peace and prosperity of all nations in the Asia and Pacific region” he said.

Rice added that the U.S. Forces in Japan will advise the new administration on specific areas of responsibility and prepare its smooth transition into office.

In assuring that the commitment Washington has shown to Tokyo during the last half century will continue, Rice explained that the bilateral alliance has been strengthened since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. through joint efforts such as operations in Iraq and the six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization.