Saturday, February 23, 2013
Japan-U.S. Alliance Is Alive And Well: Abe
WASHINGTON (Nikkei)--In remarks meant to be heeded both here and in Beijing and Pyongyang, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will stress that Japan holds fast to its alliance with the U.S.
Abe maintains the relationship suffered under three years of rule by the Democratic Party of Japan. By touting the strength of the alliance, the prime minister is looking to send a message to a China growing bolder on the high seas and a North Korea pursuing nuclear ambitions.
"I make a pledge. I will bring back a strong Japan," Abe will say Friday at the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies.
This effort will include higher defense spending -- the fiscal 2013 budget plan calls for the first increase in 11 years. Abe's Liberal Democratic Party government is also moving to take up the constitutionally delicate issue of exercising collective self-defense.
The idea is to back America's strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region. A strong Japan can "do even more good for the betterment of the world," the prime minister will argue.
"No one should ever doubt the robustness of the Japan-U.S. alliance," Abe will say, a pronouncement tied in with a his reaffirmation of Japan's sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, which China disputes.
At the same time, he will show his openness to dialogue with China, tacitly acknowledging American concern about friction between the two Asian powers. "I have absolutely no intention of climbing up the escalation ladder," Abe will say. "For me, Japan's relations with China stand out as among the most important."
Abe will also articulate a values-based approach to foreign policy, stressing that "Japan must work even more closely with the U.S., (South) Korea, Australia and other like-minded democracies."
(The Nikkei, Feb. 23 morning edition)