Top US and Japanese defense and foreign affairs officials on Tuesday reaffirmed the US-Japan Alliance and called for peaceful resolution of disputes in the Taiwan Strait through dialogue, while admitting that plans to relocate US troops from a military base in Okinawa would miss their deadline.
The Security Consultative Committee meeting, held in Washington, involved US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Takeaki Matsumoto and Japanese Minister of National Defense Toshimi Kitazawa. This was the first meeting of the committee, informally known as the “2+2 ministerial,” in four years.
In a joint statement, the committee said it recognized the need to address a number of challenges in an “increasingly uncertain security environment,” which included expanding military capabilities and activities in the region, as well as the emergence of non-traditional security concerns.
The US government reaffirmed its commitment to the defense of Japan and to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, including through regional alliances and the full range of US military capabilities, both nuclear and conventional.
Japan reaffirmed its commitment to provide stable use of facilities and areas by US forces and to support their smooth operation.
The statement said it welcomed continued developments and cooperation with Japan on theater ballistic missile defense — which for years has met strong opposition from Beijing — and called for the study of future issues in preparation for transition to production and deployment of the SM-3 Block IIA missile defense system.
The US also reaffirmed its commitment, first made in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, to strengthen regional deterrence and to maintain and enhance its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
More specifically, in comments that ostensibly targeted China, it stated its intent to tailor its regional defense posture to address proliferation of nuclear technologies and theater ballistic missiles, anti-access/area denial capabilities and other evolving threats, such as to outer space and cyberspace.
On China, the statement said the US and Japan encouraged Beijing’s responsible and constructive role in regional stability and prosperity, cooperation on global issues and its adherence to international norms of behavior. It also reiterated the need for China to improve openness and transparency with respect to its military modernization and activities, and to strengthen confidence-building measures.
Although Taiwan was not mentioned, the statement said members welcomed progress in improving cross-strait relations.
A similar statement following the committee meeting in 2005 resulted in strong condemnation by Beijing, which said at the time it “resolutely opposes the United States and Japan in issuing any bilateral document concerning China’s Taiwan, which meddles in the internal affairs of China, and hurts China’s sovereignty.”
At press time, Beijing had yet to respond to Tuesday’s joint statement.
Meanwhile, the US and Japan also acknowledged they would miss a 2014 deadline for the relocation of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa.
The force realignment plan aims to reduce the US military footprint on Okinawa, which hosts more than half of the 47,000 US troops in Japan. Despite the delay, the two sides confirmed that Marine air operations would be shifted to a less crowded part of Okinawa, where a new airfield is to be built, while about 8,000 Marines are to be shifted to Guam.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AP
LAND ALERT UNCERTAIN: The CWB was waiting to observe how In-Fa shifts as it moves north to determine when to issue a land alert, a forecaster at the bureau said Residents of northern Taiwan should brace for heavy rain today and tomorrow as Typhoon In-Fa approaches the northeast, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday. A land alert for the typhoon would be issued depending on the angle at which it moves north today, the bureau said. The bureau on Wednesday issued a sea alert for the typhoon, which applies to ships operating off the nation’s northern, northeastern and southeastern coasts. As of 8:30pm yesterday, In-Fa’s center was 470km southeast of Taipei, moving northwest at 6kph. It was carrying maximum sustained winds of 180kph, and had a radius of 200km. The typhoon was moving
‘BREAKTHROUGH’: All countries should be free to pursue closer ties with Taiwan, a leading democracy, a major economy, and a force for good in the world, the AIT said Taiwan is to establish a “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania,” the first office in Europe to be called Taiwanese, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday. “It is an important diplomatic breakthrough,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) wrote on Facebook, thanking diplomatic personnel for the significant achievement. To expand the nation’s relations with central and eastern Europe, especially with Baltic nations, the government decided to establish the office in Vilnius, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) told an online news conference. The plan signals progress in Taiwan-Europe relations, as it has been 18 years since the nation last opened an office on the
TARGET RAISED: The CECC said vaccination coverage has reached 24.35%, while Premier Su Tseng-chang said the government hopes for 30% by the end of July The government has signed a contract to buy an additional 36 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, 1 million of which are to be delivered in the fourth quarter, the Executive Yuan announced yesterday, as it updated its vaccination target to 30 percent coverage by the end of the month. The two-year deal with the US company covers “prime series” vaccines and future booster shots to protect against SARS-CoV-2 variants, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) quoted Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as saying during an Executive Yuan meeting in Taipei. In the two weeks since vaccine registration opened, more than 9.8
STAY VIGILANT: Although a level 2 alert would raise the limit on indoor gatherings to 50, people should still wear masks and practice social distancing, the center said A nationwide COVID-19 alert is to be lowered from level 3 to 2 on Tuesday, but strict border controls would remain, the government said yesterday. The level 3 alert in place since May 19 is to end on Monday, with a level 2 alert in place from Tuesday until Aug. 9, the Executive Yuan said. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), told a news conference in Taipei that over the next two weeks, people should still wear masks at all times outdoors, except while eating or drinking, and practice social distancing. The maximum