Japan’s leader vows to boost nation’s role in US alliance

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged yesterday to bolster his country’s role under its security pact with the United States (US) in “outer space and cyberspace” as the allies marked the 60th anniversary of a treaty that has been the basis for their post-war defence alliance.

Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who was prime minister at the time, signed the treaty in Washington on January 19, 1960, with President Dwight Eisenhower. The treaty allows for the stationing of tens of thousands of US troops and the deployment of American warships in Japan.

In exchange, the US is obligated to protect Japan in case of enemy attack.

“We have elevated the relationship to one in which each of us, the US and Japan, protects the other, thereby giving further force to the alliance,” Abe said in his opening remarks. “Going forward, it is incumbent upon us to make it even more robust.”

He further added, “To make it a pillar for safeguarding peace and security in both outer space and cyberspace.”

FROM LEFT: Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, granddaughter Mary Jean Eisenhower and the great grandson Merrill Eisenhower Atwater of former US President Dwight Eisenhower, Acting US Ambassador to Japan Joseph M Young and Commander of the US Forces in Japan Lieutenant General Kevin Schneider at the anniversary of the signing of the Japan-US security treaty at the Iikura Guesthouse in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP

The anniversary comes as Washington adds pressure on Japan to shoulder more of the financial cost and play a greater defence role in the Asia-Pacific region to make up for a receding US presence.

“As the security environment continues to evolve and new challenges arise, it is essential that our alliance further strengthen and deepen,” President Donald Trump said in a US statement marking the anniversary.

“I am confident that in the months and years ahead, Japan’s contributions to our mutual security will continue to grow, and the Alliance will continue to thrive.”

The bilateral security treaty, initially designed to facilitate a greater US presence in the Asia-Pacific region as deterrence to Soviet threats, is a legacy of the Cold War era.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington and Tokyo have redefined the pact as a pillar for maintaining stability and prosperity in the region in the face of new threats from China and North Korea.