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Japan ~ U.S. alliance at heart of Futenma dispute

Date Posted: 2010-01-21

Senior U.S. officials are scrambling to reassure the world that the dispute over where to relocate Futenma Marine Corps Air Station on Okinawa will not endanger the alliance between Japan and the United States.

“The first thing I would say is that there is no crisis in the U.S. ~ Japan alliance,” said one spokesman this week. “The alliance is very much larger than questions about the particular boundaries or particular locations of one base.” Speaking with reporters, he said the alliance “has for the last half century provided the basis for peace, prosperity and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region, more specifically in east Asia.

His remarks were somewhat askew from those of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following her meeting with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Hawaii. She emphasized that the commitment between the two nations is strong, but still urged Tokyo to keep its promises, including that of the 2006 Japan ~ U.S. agreement to relocate Futenma to northern Okinawa’s Henoko district and Camp Schwab.

Clinton underscored the fact Japan has to date failed to clarify its stance regarding the bilateral alliance, and wants Tokyo to firmly guarantee its recognition of the alliance. Even as she spoke in Hawaii, the former senior director for Asian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council was expressing concerns Japan’s overtures toward China could rock the Japan ~ U.S. relationship. Michael Green said a visit to China by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s chief advisor, Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, could be construed as interest by Japan’s new government to put China ahead of the U.S. in its policy deliberations.

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