Washington has told Tokyo of its plan to beef up its military presence in Japan to prepare for a possible emergency amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, it was learned Sunday.
The buildup includes F-15 fighter bombers and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, according to sources.
Tokyo has welcomed Washington’s plan, citing “the need for deterrence under the Japan-U.S. security arrangement in the Asia-Pacific region to remain effective” even if the U.S. attacks Iraq, the sources said.
The plan was reported at a “strategic dialogue” meeting in Washington last Monday, as well as on other occasions, the sources said. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Yukio Takeuchi are said to have attended the meeting.
The United States told Japan of the possibility of dispatching a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson, from its base in Hawaii to seas near Japan, the sources said. The move would fill the gap left when the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, based at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, set sail for seas near Iraq.
The majority of U.S. forces massing around Iraq are coming from the U.S. mainland, but some have also been shifted from Japan.
The Japan-U.S. security treaty requires advanced bilateral consultations for any sizable changes in the deployment of U.S. forces in Japan. According to the sources, however, the latest move will not be large enough to require such consultations.
The U.S. government has expressed serious concerns about North Korea making a provocative military move, such as lifting its freeze on missile launch tests.
Washington has increased its preparedness to beef up military forces in line with a request from the U.S. Pacific Command. The U.S. government told Tokyo that it will decide on dispatches as needs arise and depending on how the situation with Iraq evolves, the sources said.
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