U.S. to Abe: Collective self-defense off agenda


Washington does not want Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bring up the issue of collective self-defense at the Japan-U.S. summit to be held later this month, diplomatic sources said.

The U.S. reaction comes as Abe hopes to bolster bilateral security ties by gaining President Barack Obama’s support for lifting Japan’s self-imposed ban on the right, which conflicts with Article 9 of the Constitution.

Washington has told Tokyo that if Obama openly welcomes Abe’s drive to allow Self-Defense Forces troops to engage in collective self-defense — the right to come to the defense of an ally under armed attack — it risks upsetting Beijing, which might interpret the gesture as an attempt by Japan and the U.S. to increase pressure on China, according to the sources.

U.S. officials also said during preparatory talks for the summit, set to be held Feb. 21 or 22, that heightening Sino-Japanese tensions with Washington’s close involvement could damage regional stability and harm the interests of Japan and the U.S., they said.

Ties between Tokyo and Beijing have sunk to their lowest level in years due to conflicting sovereignty claims over the Japan-held Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The sources quoted a senior U.S. official as telling Japan that the United States does not want the issue to be publicized at the summit. Tokyo will now need to quickly find another way of showing the rest of the world that the Japan-U.S. alliance is stronger, Japanese government sources said.

The U.S. Department of State is also reluctant to accept Tokyo’s proposal that Abe and Obama call for restraint on China’s maritime activities around the Senkakus, saying it could affect Washington’s relations with Beijing, they said.

Under the government’s current interpretation of the pacifist Constitution, Japan cannot permit itself to exercise the collective right of self-defense because doing so would go beyond the scope of self-defense as stipulated by the charter.

Futenma deal still eludes

NAHA, Okinawa Pref.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima failed Saturday to reach an accord on the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

At a meeting in Naha during Abe’s first visit to Okinawa since taking office in December, Nakaima repeated his constituent’s “strong wish” to have the Futenma facility removed from the prefecture, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military forces deployed in Japan.

“The Futenma base must not be fixed at the current place” in the crowded city of Ginowan, Abe said. “We will proceed based on our agreement with the United States (to relocate the base further north on Okinawa Island).”

Abe also told Nakaima that in its draft budget for fiscal 2013, his government boosted spending for Okinawa’s development to beyond ¥300 billion compared with a year ago.

“I will listen to your voices,” Abe stressed. “I hope to begin by re-establishing trust between us.”

Speaking to reporters afterward, Abe said his administration has no plans to submit a request to the Okinawa Prefectural Government for permission to conduct the landfill work required for the current Futenma relocation plan before he visits the United States later this month.

  • Jerry Stackey

    America doesn’t want to go to war over distant barren islands that Japan annexed from a weak China.
    The USA have stated publicly and rightly that it doesn’t take sides on the sovereignty issue and wants both China and Japan to diplomatically resolve the issue.
    However Mr. Abe’s denying that there was even a past agreement on shelving the issue and that there is therefore no territorial dispute that needs to be discussed means that Japan is prepared to go to war with China effectively dragging Uncle Sam hook, line and sinker.

  • nosnurbd

    What is the mission of the US Marines stationed on Okinawa? They are essentially an arm of the US Navy and what is their military reach with the Osprey aircraft? It would be a great boost to relations with China and Japan if the US Marines were relocated out of Okinawa. Australia and Philippines where the US seems more welcome might be appropriate, and with no serious degradation of “strategic” location.

  • Steppenwolf323

    One cannot help but wonder how the massive amount of US debt held by China affected the US decision.
    It is time to reassess the entire US presence in Japan as it costing us taxpayers quite a large amount in facility and personnel costs for these bases.
    The days of marching armies (or Marines) is over. State actors play a very little part in modern combat and as can be seen in wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan all the fancy US military toys have very little impact in stopping determined suicide bombers and peasant fighters supported by local populaces.
    Please go home

    • mr. j

      So what economic and security gains do you think Japan has been able to achieve through the protection of the US security umbrella? It sounds like all opposed make out that Japan has stood to gain nothing from the US. Who do you think won the Cold War? US, The USSR… of course not, Japan did. How do you think their economy was able to rebound – it wasn’t a miracle…

      Of course the US debt issue with China plays a part in it, why wouldn’t it. And why should the US be going in to bat for Japan, possibly to the detriment of wider relations with others, when Japan still fails to accept much of the responsibility for the aggression that has created the situation that now exists in the region?

      To say that state actors play very little part in modern combat is not accurate. Asymmetrical warfare is more prevalent, but states are still involved in many ways, not just the obvious combat scenarios of say the US vs. the Taliban. The state keeps the structure of societies in place and hopefully working well enough to help prevent the scenarios in which terrorism becomes the only response.

      Perhaps the US should leave, but not for any other consideration than its own future and economic situation. I doubt that the Japanese government would really want the US to leave, though. How would Japan counter the threats from its enemies without the US? They can’t even afford to buy new office furniture in most government buildings etc., what’s the likelihood of them being able to fill the gap that America would leave if they departed?

      If it is the rising power that poses the most threat to the established hegemon, then China or India will most probably be the challenger for control in the wake of US withdrawals or decline in influence in the region. Who do you think would be the most responsible power? Who has a more sturdy and liberal form of governance that has checks and balances in place and permits the expression of oppositional theories and debate?

      Even if the presence of the US is unwanted and costly, would their withdrawal and the ensuing situation be better for Japan than what it is now?

  • disqus_yfveKyl5pm

    The US Marines are in Japan to defend countries outside of Japan. If Japan cannot defend the Japanese islands with its GSDF it should

  • The US should defend Japan as per the treaty signed more than 60 years ago or else lift the ban on Japan from arming itself to defend its soveriegnity.

    • MrsERP

      I agree with you on this. I just hope that before they do resort to using force against China, they’d sit down and REALLY talk about the issue as diplomatic as possible. Peace should be maintained at all cost and no country can grow well in times of war. It’s best to settle issues amicably: no threats, no bloodshed.