Japan's Security Policy and the U.S. Rebalance to the Asia Pacific

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Japan's Security Policy and the U.S. Rebalance to the Asia Pacific The Honorable Seiji Maehara Chairman, Policy Research Council, Democratic Party of Japan Washington, DC September 12, 2012 Honorable Members of Congress, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Good evening. Thank you Congressman McDermott for that generous introduction. I am honored to have this opportunity to speak before such a distinguished audience. And I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Dan Bob of Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA as well as to the Congressional Study Group on Japan and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Japan for making this event possible. Yesterday marked the eleventh anniversary of the terrible 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since that dark day, the United States has focused much of its international security attention on fighting terrorism around the globe and prosecuting wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. This year, with the end of the war in Iraq and the wind-down of the war in Afghanistan, the United States has begun to implement a new security strategy based on rebalancing its attention and resources toward the Asia-Pacific. As that strategy is more fully realized over coming years, coordination with Japan, America’s most important and steadfast ally in the region, will become even more important than it is today. The strengthened U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific -- even in the face of greater budget austerity -will contribute greatly to regional security, stability and shared prosperity. It is a development I personally welcome as does my party and my country. One major factor underlying Japan’s support for America’s rebalancing effort is that even as the global economic center of gravity shifts to the region, Asia Pacific security dynamics have become increasingly complicated. Tonight I would like to give a few of my own thoughts on the situation in the Asia Pacific and on the future of the U.S.-Japan Alliance. Let me begin by touching on China. Beijing’s defense budget has grown annually by double digits, yielding a 30-fold increase in spending over the past 24 years – according to public Chinese government sources, which if anything, tend to under-report the size of the country’s military. Yet, even as China has constructed formidable armed forces, the country has steadfastly refused to tell the rest of the world what it intends to do with its growing military might. The expanding range and often antagonistic nature of Chinese naval operations is a particular source of concern throughout the region. Most notably, China’s actions in the South China Sea -- rooted in logic and claims inconsistent with established international maritime norms -- present a destabilizing element to the region. Such behavior suggests that China is far less concerned about the ramifications of challenging the current international order or accepted international values underlying that order than it used to be. Since 2010, China has also sent law enforcement vessels to the area near the Senkaku Islands -- which are inherent territories of Japan -- about once per month. China’s actions represent a clear attempt to defy accepted circumstances. Japan has responded in a calm but firm manner in order to prevent escalation, maintain the existing status of the area and protect the stability of the broader region. Yet last month, despite repeated warnings from Japan, activists from Hong Kong illegally landed on the Senkakus. And so, in accordance with domestic law, Japan deported the activists. Japan’s relationship with South Korea has also been tested recently. Like Japan, South Korea is a treaty ally of the United States. South Korea also happens to be an important partner of Japan. We share fundamental values, have important economic ties and both benefit from regional peace and stability. And while we place great value on Japan-ROK relations, President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Takeshima Island, and then his statement about the Japanese...
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