Monday, October 31, 2005

US To Move 7,000 Marines From Japan

The United States will remove 7,000 Marines from Okinawa in a major overhaul of American troops and bases in Japan under a US global plan to make its military more flexible, top officials said.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld shakes hands with Director General of the Japan Defense Agency Yoshinori Ohno
The base realignment unveiled by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Japanese counterpart, Yoshinori Ohno, also boosts bilateral military cooperation in areas ranging from disaster relief to ballistic missile defence to counterproliferation. Japan’s embrace of a sweeping plan to build up joint defences with the United States signals Tokyo’s acceptance of a growing military responsibility in the world and concern about the ambitions of North Korea and China, analysts said. “This relationship must and is in fact evolving to remain strong and relevant,” said Mr Rumsfeld, whose Pentagon has long urged Japan to contribute more to global security. Mr Ohno told reporters ‘we are in fact opening a new era’ in the evolution of the bilateral alliance beyond its initial narrow role of protecting Japan to cover contingencies in areas surrounding the Pacific Ocean island nation. “We’re now talking about joint activities in various areas between Japan and the United States in order to improve the peace security around the world,” he said. Mr Ohno, in a nod to sensitive public opinion at home and in neighbouring Asian countries invaded by Imperial Japan, stressed that Japanese activities would adhere to its war-renouncing constitution and ‘not involve use of force’. China was upset after a February round of US-Japan talks when the two allies listed Taiwan as a mutual security concern.