Hatoyama praises security pact deterrence on 50th anniversary

by Masami Ito

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the revised Japanese-U.S. security treaty, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Tuesday praised the pact for maintaining Asia-Pacific peace and stressed that U.S. forces here have been and will continue to be a deterrent amid uncertain times.

The past 50 years have witnessed significant changes, but the world continues to face danger, Hatoyama said, citing the rise of terrorism after the 9/11 attacks and Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats.

“It can be said that the Japan-U.S. security pact will continue to be indispensable not only for our nation’s defense but also for the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region,” he said in a prepared statement.

“Under the security environment, which continues to have unstable and uncertain factors, I think that the presence of the U.S. military based on the Japan-U.S. security treaty will continue to serve (the public good) by giving a great sense of security to the countries in the region.”

Hatoyama said Japan will work with the U.S. to deepen the bilateral alliance and present the results of the discussion to the public before the end of the year.

The original security pact was signed by Tokyo and Washington in 1951 but was revised in 1960 to correct an imbalance and erase a clause permitting the U.S. to intervene against “large-scale internal riots and disturbances in Japan.”

The current treaty also clarifies the U.S. role in defending Japan if it is under attack and enables the U.S. forces to use “facilities and areas in Japan.”

Later in the day, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued a joint statement vowing to lessen the military burden on Okinawa but not the deterrence capacity of the U.S. forces.

The ministers “endorse ongoing efforts to maintain our deterrent capabilities in a changing strategic landscape, including appropriate stationing of U.S. forces, while reducing the impact of bases on local communities, including Okinawa, thereby strengthening security and ensuring the alliance remains the anchor of regional stability,” the statement said.

Okinawa is home to 75 percent of all U.S. forces in Japan and people there have repeatedly urged the central government to reduce the burden.