In their Washington meeting last Thursday, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed to establish new common strategic goals for the Asia-Pacific region and other parts of the world.

The agreement represents the two nations’ determination to deepen their relations because the ties have faced difficulties over the issue of the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Island and because the security situation in the region is deteriorating due to China’s military buildup and North Korea’s provocative actions.

Mr. Maehara and Ms. Clinton agreed that the six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization and bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang can resume only if the North stops its provocative actions and takes concrete steps to abandon its nuclear program. The North should take this call seriously and act accordingly. The two also agreed that China should play a constructive role as a responsible member of the international community. Given China’s military buildup, increased naval activities in the region and failure to use its political and economic leverage against Pyongyang to resolve the nuclear standoff, it is logical that Japan and the U.S. should strengthen their political and security cooperation.

But because the tension in the region is high, it is all the more important for both Japan and the U.S. to have close, multi-level communications with China to prevent crises. They should pursue a wise and coolheaded approach to China so that the type of confrontation as prevailed during the Cold War era will not re-emerge. Ms. Clinton said that the cooperation between the U.S. and Japan should cover the “full range of global and strategic issues, from nuclear proliferation to maritime security, and from global economic recovery and growth to energy security and climate change.” Japan should carefully weigh what it can do to enhance both its national interests and the global well-being in accordance with its pacifist constitutional principles.

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