Cheney: Japan's security a priority for U.S.
TOKYO — Any possible change in force posture of U.S. forces worldwide would affect neither the U.S.-Japanese alliance nor Japanese security, Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday.
And asked why there have been no discussions on Japanese concerns about U.S. military facilities in densely populated areas, the vice president said the United States will do its best to minimize any frictions that could arise among the U.S. bases and their Japanese neighbors.
Cheney, whose three-day visit here coincided with three Japanese civilians being taken hostage in Iraq, also encouraged Japan to continue its recent more activist — and controversial — role in international affairs.
“Today, our alliance is far more than a bilateral security pact,” he said. “It is a global partnership dedicated to promoting our common vision, solving problems and meeting challenges wherever they may arise.”
Cheney was in Tokyo at the invitation of the Yomiuri Shimbun and The Washington Post, to give a special lecture commemorating 150 years of U.S.-Japanese relations. The vice president later Tuesday traveled to China for meetings with senior Beijing officials.
A theme of his visit to both Japan and China, The Washington Post reported, is Asia’s emerging new leadership. “Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi,” the newspaper reported, “impressed Cheney and his aides with his refusal to bow to public opinion over the Japanese hostages. Before leaving Japan, Cheney declared in a speech that under Koizumi’s leadership Japan ‘is entering a new era of growth, dynamism, rising confidence and global influence.’”
Cheney referred to global U.S. force posture changes now being considered as “simply a matter of modernizing and upgrading our military posture and keeping with the threats and needs that we face out there today.”
“We are currently involved in thinking about what our force posture ought to be on worldwide basis, not just in respect to the Pacific and Japan but forces in the U.S., Europe and Asia elsewhere. It’s conceivable, as part of that, adjustments will be made in the posture of U.S. forces in years ahead,” he said.
But “the U.S. forward deployments, our commitments to the security of Japan, our very strong alliance relationship now that’s been so important to both the nations for 50 years, will in no way be diminished by these activities.”
The U.S. military also will strive to strengthen relations between its bases and local communities, the vice president said.
“Certainly ... we’ll want to take in account the need to be sensitive to the concerns of local folks and to remove, as much as possible, sources of friction there,” he said. “We recognize that the presence of the U.S. forces can in some cases present a burden to the local community. We are not insensitive to that. We work almost on a continual basis with local officials to do everything we can to remove points of friction and reduce the extent of which problems arise.
“Our peoples are closer now and our alliance more important than ever before. We’re drawn together not only by converging strategic and economic interest but above all by our shared values ... our belief in constitutional democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of individual liberties.”