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U.S. Ambassador sees Tokyo as 'equal partner'

Date Posted: 2009-10-08

John Roos said it clearly; Washington sees Japan as an equal partner, and will give the newly formed government a bit of breathing room to review plans for shifting American troops around Japan.

The American Ambassador noted that Japan’s new Prime Minister is contemplating how to chart a new, independent path separate from relationships with the U.S., and that he wants to reevaluate the military troop realignment plan agreed upon by the previous administration.

“As partners, we want to listen to what they have to say, and work with them on this issue,” Roos told journalists in Tokyo. The issue is a security agreement that linked moving Futenma to northern Okinawa’s Camp Schwab with moving 8,000 American Marines off Okinawa to Guam not later than 2014. There have been environmental disagreements with locating the new airfield at Camp Schwab, with V-shape runways extending into Oura Bay.

Roos says Japan must have time to get seated in government, just as President Barack Obama did eight months ago. He says Hatoyama must become familiar with policies from the previous regime, then analyze them before making decisions. “You have to give the government the opportunity of going through the process of analyzing, looking hard at the agreement and the alternatives, and then come to the same conclusion we did,” said the ambassador.

The U.S. Ambassador skirted controversial issues such as an announced plan for Japan to withdraw from the Indian Ocean refueling missions, “They’re considering a whole host of ways of contributing,” he says, “and as our close friend and partner, we’re going to work with them on that.” Roos says he doesn’t see problems in the U.S. relationship with Japan, calling “the alliance is incredibly strong, and I believe getting stronger.

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