China focus of Japan-U.S. defense deal


The Japanese and U.S. governments are arranging for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and President Barack Obama to promote “dynamic defense cooperation” in a joint statement after their summit Monday in Washington, sources said.

The aim is to enhance deterrence with an eye to engaging China, whose navy is becoming increasingly active. This would be done by strengthening cooperation on surveillance between the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military, with an emphasis on mobility and readiness in Okinawa and the other Nansei Islands, the sources said Saturday.

Noda, who was slated to depart on Sunday, also intends to work closely with Obama to prevent North Korea from conducting its third nuclear test following a failed rocket launch earlier this month.

In a joint statement issued Thursday in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said that bilateral dynamic defense cooperation will strengthen deterrence.

The SDF and the U.S. military are now expected to strengthen their surveillance and reconnaissance activities through joint drills and the sharing of facilities in such areas as Guam and Tinian in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the sources said.

In the summit statement, the leaders will also call for deepening the alliance, establishing a new order in security and economics in the Asia-Pacific region, and promoting cooperation on outer space and cyberspace, the sources said.

They are also expected to exchange views on Myanmar and Iran, but could forgo detailed talks on the stalled plan to move Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture, they said.

As for Japan’s participation in U.S.-led talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Noda does not intend to clarify his intention to join the trade talks in light of lingering opposition within his ruling Democratic Party of Japan, the sources said.

Reversion rally revived

NAHA, Okinawa Pref.

Reviving an annual rally that ended 43 years ago, residents of two municipalities met Saturday where the border between Japan and U.S.-occupied Okinawa once ran to celebrate the islands’ reversion to Japanese territory 40 years ago next month.

About 100 representatives of Okinawa’s northernmost village of Kunigami and Kagoshima Prefecture’s southernmost town of Yoron gathered on 25 boats near the former border on the 60th anniversary of the coming into force of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which placed Okinawa under U.S. administration while ending the Allied Forces’ occupation of Japan.

By joining their boats with ropes, Kunigami Mayor Hisakazu Miyagi and Yoron Assembly member Sairyo Fumoto and other participants shook hands shortly before noon. The rally had been held annually between 1963 and 1969.

Yoron and other Amami Islands were also put under U.S. rule by the treaty, which came into force on April 28, 1952. Under the treaty, Japan regained the Amami Islands the following year but Okinawa was not returned until 1972.

“The people of Okinawa suffered through the 27 years (under U.S. rule). We hope for a lasting peace in order never to repeat this miserable history,” Miyagi said in a statement.