Okada in Hawaii for talks with Clinton over security alliance
Tuesday 12th January, 06:58 AM JST
HONOLULU — Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada is visiting Hawaii for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the relocation of a U.S. Marine Corps base in Okinawa. Okada met with military leaders at the U.S. Pacific Command on Monday. He will also pay his respects at Punchbowl, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Okada will meet Clinton on Tuesday and discuss the fate of the U.S. Marine Corps airfield at Futenma in Okinawa.
The U.S. and Japan agreed in 2006 to move Futenma to another part of Okinawa. But Okinawa residents oppose the move and want the airfield shut down.
Clinton is stopping in Honolulu en route to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
In Tokyo, local media said that Clinton and Okada will make final arrangements for a statement stressing the crucial contribution of their alliance to global peace.
“The governments are preparing for the statement, with which Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and President (Barack) Obama will celebrate the 50th anniversary and commit to further deepen the alliance,” Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said, according to Jiji Press.
The security treaty, signed on Jan 19, 1960, has formed the bedrock of the post-war Japan-U.S. alliance, under which pacifist Japan relies on a massive U.S. military presence to guarantee its security.
Tokyo’s relations with its most important ally have hit turbulence over the controversial Futenma air base, which Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has suggested should be moved off the southern island of Okinawa or even outside Japan altogether.
The center-left Hatoyama, who took power in September, has pledged to review past agreements on the US military presence, including plans to shift Futenma within Okinawa, and to deal with Washington on a more “equal” basis.
The stand has raised questions about the future of the alliance.
Joseph Nye, a former senior Pentagon official, said in a commentary in the New York Times last week that Washington should proceed carefully on the base dispute.
“This is an issue with a long back story that could create a serious rift with one of our most crucial allies,” he warned.
“Some in Washington want to play hardball with the new Japanese government. But that would be unwise, for Mr Hatoyama is caught in a vise.”
Kurt Campbell, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Asia and Pacific affairs, said Clinton and Okada will also discuss mutual security concerns over the nuclear ambitions of both North Korea and Iran.
They will also talk about China’s rising power, as well as the military junta in Myanmar.
Clinton will meet with the U.S. military’s Pacific Command and visit the USS Arizona Memorial, which commemorates the Americans who died in the Japanese attack on Dec 7, 1941 that triggered war with the United States.
She will arrive in Port Moresby on Thursday to discuss economic development and efforts to combat climate change. It will be the first visit to Papua New Guinea by a U.S. secretary of state since Madeleine Albright visited in 1998.
On Jan 15, Clinton will travel to Auckland, New Zealand, and then Melbourne and Canberra, Australia.
Highlighting the region’s growing international clout, it will be Clinton’s fourth tour of Asia since she became secretary of state one year ago.
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