Japan to host US anti-missile radar system
AGAINST the backdrop of pressing regional tensions, the United States and Japan agreed yesterday to broaden their military alliance.
The agreement includes adding a new missile-defence radar system in Japan and cooperating to combat cyberthreats.
The pact, signed during a joint visit here by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel at a meeting with their Japanese counterparts, is likely to alarm China, which has had increasingly testy relations with Tokyo.
The agreement comes at a time when the Japanese government is seeking to enhance its military capabilities greatly and to revise its pacifist Constitution, drafted after World War II, paving the way for it to become a more-equal partner with the US in times of conflict.
"Our bilateral defence cooperation, including America's commitment to the security of Japan, is a critical component of our overall relationship," Mr Hagel said during a news conference in Tokyo, "and to the Obama administration's rebalance to the Asia-Pacific".
Most significantly, the US will deploy a new X-band radar system in Kyogamisaki over the next year, to better protect both nations against threats from North Korea.
"Today we have seen a meeting of minds between Japan and the US with respect to this situation," said Mr Fumio Kishida, the Japanese minister dealing with North Korea.
Further, the US Marine Corps will replace ageing helicopters here with two squadrons of MV-22 aircraft and will deploy surveillance drones to be based in Japan for the first time. The drones - two or three that will fly out of a US base - are designed in part to help step up surveillance around the Senkaku islands, a source of heated debate between Japan and China.
Addressing a vexing local issue, 9,000 Marines in the base in Okinawa will be relocated out of Japan, with 5,000 of those forces deployed to Guam. The Japanese will pay up to US$3.1 billion (S$3.9 billion) for the transfer, saving the fiscally strained US Defence Department from the expense.