WASHINGTON (Kyodo) A former top U.S. intelligence official has called for a “normal” Japan-U.S. alliance, urging Tokyo to reinterpret the war-renouncing Constitution to bring more balance to the relationship.
In a recent interview, former National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair was critical of the current security alliance under which the United States “would do all of the military work and Japan would simply pay . . . host-nation support and provide some bases.”
While noting that the Japan-U.S. relationship has been “the linchpin for both countries,” Blair said the existing security alliance arrangement may have been “OK in 1955, but it’s not OK in 2011.”
The 64-year-old retired admiral said the two countries must “develop a much more mature relationship where Japan plays much more of an equal role” than it did during the years following World War II.
“I’m all in favor of changing the Japanese Constitution, developing Japanese military capability so that they can take part in things like international peacekeeping and extended self-defense,” he said.
Japan takes the position that it can’t exercise the right to collective self-defense, or aiding an ally under enemy attack, due to limitations in the Constitution.
Commenting on the “Yoshida Doctrine,” named after postwar Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida and which places priority on economic development while depending on the U.S. for military defense, Blair said he has “always thought (it) was a little unhealthy now and in the future.”
Touching on a potential missile threat against the U.S., Blair said, “It would be a great mistake if, for instance, North Korea shot a missile that was coming at the United States and Japan did not participate in providing its radar data or its missile data to the United States because that’s forbidden under the Constitution.
“That’s just nonsense,” he said. “I think we need a normal alliance (in) which both sides have obligations that are relatively balanced.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned in January that North Korea could pose a direct threat to the U.S. within five years if it continues to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles and expand its nuclear weapons capability.
But Blair, who was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command for three years from 1999 and served as director of National Intelligence from January 2009 to May 2010, said, “I’m not that worried about it.”
He noted that although North Korea is capable of attacking U.S. bases in Japan or South Korea, it would not do so for fear of retaliation by the U.S.
“Right now, they can threaten American troops in (South) Korea . . . they can shoot missiles that will hit anywhere in Japan, including U.S. forces. But they know that if they were to do anything as foolish as that, they would just be obliterated,” Blair said.
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