In a joint statement today, U.S. and Japanese diplomatic and military leaders agreed to revise the 1997 Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, increase security and defense collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and advance the realignment of American troops in Japan.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with their counterparts, Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, in a series of meetings today that culminated in a “two-plus-two” engagement. At a news conference following the engagement, Hagel said all four discussed, “Our goal … [of] a more balanced and effective alliance, where our two militaries are full partners working side-by-side with each other, and with other regional partners, to enhance peace and security.”
Kerry and Hagel are the first U.S. secretaries of state and defense to attend such a meeting here together. The gathering was highlighted by intense interest in Japan as the nation’s government is reportedly considering expanding the role of its self-defense forces.
Hagel said during the news conference that after 16 years, revising the defense guidelines makes sense. The close alliance between the two countries, rising security threats in the region and the increasingly global nature of those threats, he said, all urge a reexamination of the agreement governing each nation’s roles and responsibilities in defense and contingency operations.
Other key agreements the four ministers announced include:
- A second Army Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance system, or AN-TPY-2, will be placed at the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force base at Kyogamisaki, where it will augment one previously set up in Shariki on the northern part of Honshu Island.
The new radar will “close the gaps,” a U.S. official said, and will increase protection for the United States while defending Japan against possible North Korean missile strikes.
The “Tippy-Two,” as it’s commonly known, is an X-band, high-resolution, phased-array radar designed specifically for ballistic missile defense. It searches for and tracks inbound threats, and can be integrated with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system and ground-based interceptors.
- Increase bilateral cooperation in the region on space and cyberspace; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; planning, use of facilities, extended deterrence, information security, training and exercises.
- Reinforce trilateral and multilateral cooperation “that preserves and promotes a peaceful, prosperous and secure Asia-Pacific region.” The statement adds, “Our mutual cooperation is to expand over time, and we are committed to working in partnership with other like-minded countries to build sustainable patterns of cooperation.”
- Implement agreements on realignment of U.S. forces in Japan “as soon as possible while ensuring operational capability, including training capability, throughout the process.”
The realignment plan will relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, now in the center of Okinawa’s Ginowan City, to a more remote area of the island. It also moves a Marine Corps squadron of KC-130 Hercules aircraft from Futenma to MCAS Iwakuni, transfers elements of the Navy’s Carrier Air Wing 5 from Atsugi Air Facility to Iwakuni, and shifts thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam in the first half of the 2020s.
- Deploy more advanced U.S. capabilities to Japan such as the U.S. Marines’ MV-22 Osprey aircraft, two squadrons of which are here and will be training with Japanese self-defense forces. Other equipment headed to Japan in the coming years includes Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, in what will be its first deployment outside the United States; rotational deployment of Global Hawk unmanned aircraft; and, in another first deployment outside the United States in 2017, the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing joint strike fighter variant for the Marine Corps.
The four ministers also addressed territorial disputes in the East China Sea, where Japan and China both claim rights to the Senkaku Islands.
While U.S. policy is that sovereignty in such disputes is an issue for the disputing nations to resolve, Hagel reiterated a statement he made in April: since they are under the administrative control of Japan, they fall under U.S. treaty obligations to Japan.
“We strongly oppose any unilateral or coercive action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administrative control,” he said. “We will continue to consult especially closely on this issue.”
Hagel closed his statement at today’s news conference with a strong endorsement of the alliance.
“The United States-Japan relationship has underwritten the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region for more than half a century,” he said. “Today, we have helped ensure this alliance continues to do so in the 21st century.”
The secretary also thanked U.S. troops serving here. He will visit some of them tomorrow, before concluding his weeklong trip that also took him to South Korea.
Following the press conference, Hagel and Kerry were scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.