• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said Saturday both Japan and the United States should be flexible in discussing the U.S. military deployment in Japan.

His comment came amid concerns that the area to be covered by new U.S. military operations may be beyond the scope of the bilateral security treaty.

“It would narrow the range of discussions” if both countries stick to the current geographical restrictions stipulated in the Japan-U.S. security treaty too strictly during talks on the issue,” he told a news conference.

Machimura was referring to the article in the security pact stipulating that the United States is granted the use by land, air and naval forces of facilities and areas in Japan for the purpose of contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security “in the Far East.”

The clause has recently drawn attention because some of the realignment proposals which Japanese government sources said have been floated by the United States could require Japan to host military functions covering areas from Northeast Asia to the Middle East.

The proposals include the transfer of the U.S. Army’s 1st Corps Headquarters in Washington state to Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Japan has refused this plan as “politically unacceptable” due to concerns that the regions to be covered by the new headquarters would be far beyond the scope of the bilateral treaty.

Machimura said that such a flexible position should be allowed so the two countries can study as many options as possible, but indicated the final agreement should be in line with the legality of the treaty.

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