• Compiled From Staff, Kyodo Reports


Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono told a Diet session Wednesday that relocating the headquarters of a U.S. military unit to Japan would not violate the Japan-U.S. security treaty — even if the range of the unit’s activity goes beyond the Far East.

The security treaty stipulates that the U.S. military forces can use military facilities in Japan to contribute to the security of Japan and the maintenance of peace and security in the Far East.

According to a 1960 unified government’s view, “the Far East” defined in the security treaty refers to areas north of the Philippines, Japan and its surrounding areas, including South Korea and Taiwan.

Ono made the remark before the House of Councilors Budget Committee, quickly adding that it was his personal view and not a unified view of the government.

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said the Japanese government intends to retain the Far East clause in the security pact when negotiating U.S. troop realignment plans.

But Hosoda indicated that Japan will continue to tacitly allow U.S. troops to be deployed from Japan to final destinations beyond East Asia, such as the Middle East, a policy critics say is inconsistent with the treaty.

The top government spokesman made the distinction after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday that the global context of the Japan-U.S. alliance, as well as the bilateral security treaty, should be taken into account in negotiations over reducing U.S. forces in Japan.

“There is a view that the review of U.S. forces in Japan will lead to a change in the security treaty’s Article 6, but we will have to ensure its consistency,” Hosoda told a regular news conference, referring to the so-called Far East clause.

“On the other hand, the United States is engaged in global security operations, and Japan-U.S. cooperation in the global context should be separated from (the context of) the bilateral security treaty . . . I think they should not be mixed.”

Tokyo has tried to separate its support for the U.S.-led antiterrorism campaign in Afghanistan and its invasion of Iraq from the bilateral alliance by citing United Nations resolutions.

Japan has hosted U.S. bases under the security treaty, which limits its purpose to peace and security in East Asia as well as Japan’s defense.

Although U.S. troops have been sent to Iraq from Okinawa, Tokyo has claimed it did not know their destinations when they departed.

According to a document the two countries exchanged in concluding the 1960 security pact, Washington is supposed to hold prior talks with Tokyo if its military bases in Japan are to be used for combat operations other than to defend Japan.

But the United States did not hold talks of this nature before the deployment of the Okinawa troops to Iraq.

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