A senior Defense Agency official indicated Friday that Japan will pursue a redefinition of the Japan-U.S. security arrangement when the two countries discuss the proposed realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

“While a basic policy on the reorganization is being considered, a new Japan-U.S. security arrangement should be discussed,” said the official, who asked not to be identified.

The redefinition should take into account new threats, including terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said.

The official also said the so-called two-plus-two meeting of the Japanese and U.S. defense and foreign ministers to discuss the reorganization would be difficult to convene this year due to the extraordinary Diet session and U.S. presidential election.

The U.S. election is set for Nov. 2, while the Diet session, which started this week, is scheduled to last until early December.

The Defense Agency official said Japan plans to steadily implement a 1996 agreement with the United States to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa.

The two countries should discuss how to position the relocation in the reorganization of U.S. forces in Japan, he said.

Chopper move OK’d

YAMAGUCHI (Kyodo) The Iwakuni municipal and Yamaguchi prefectural governments on Friday approved a plan to transfer five CH-53D helicopters to a U.S. military base in Iwakuni from Okinawa, where one such model crashed into a university campus.

“The transfer is unavoidable as measures to prevent a recurrence (of the accident) have been taken, but we want safety measures to be strengthened,” Iwakuni Mayor Katsusuke Ihara was quoted as saying in a meeting with officials of the Defense Facilities Administration Agency and the U.S. military in Japan.

Ihara made the remark after the agency and U.S. military officials explained the cause of the accident and a plan to transfer the five CH-53D transport helicopters from the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan to Iwakuni Air Station, municipal officials said.

In a separate meeting, Yamaguchi Gov. Sekinari Nii expressed concern over the resumption of the helicopter flights, but said the transfer is inevitable, prefectural officials said.

The municipal and prefectural officials said there were no details of when the five helicopters will be moved.

The five choppers, as well as seven others of the same type, including the one that crashed, belong to the Iwakuni base but had been moved to Futenma.

After the Aug. 13 crash, six of the CH-53Ds at Futenma left for Iraq.

On Wednesday, the Marines resumed the helicopter flights, following the central government’s approval the previous day, which came despite opposition from local residents.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.