オバマ岩国演説 自衛隊と米軍の絆が示された

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Obama’s speech at Iwakuni base symbolizes SDF-U.S. forces bond
オバマ岩国演説 自衛隊と米軍の絆が示された

U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech at the Iwakuni base, it can be said, symbolizes the deepening of the Japan-U.S. alliance as well as the strong bond between the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military.

Prior to his recent visit to Hiroshima, Obama visited the Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture, which is jointly used by the U.S. Marine Corps and the Maritime Self-Defense Force. He made a speech before an audience of about 3,000 people, including not only U.S. servicemen stationed there but also about 300 SDF members. This was an exceptional audience for a U.S. presidential address.

Obama stressed the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance, saying, “It’s an indispensable source of stability and a foundation for prosperity in this region and around the world.”

Noting that “this base is a powerful example of the trust and the cooperation and the friendship between the United States and Japan,” Obama expressed gratitude to SDF personnel and local residents, saying “arigato” in Japanese.

We should never forget that the bilateral alliance is sustained not simply by what is defined by treaty but by the accumulation of persistent joint activities of many members of the SDF and U.S. forces.

With the new Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, compiled in April last year, the effectiveness of joint actions by the SDF and U.S. forces has been enhanced steadily.

In the aftermath of the Kumamoto earthquakes, a Japan-U.S. joint coordination center was set up in Kumamoto Prefecture. U.S. Osprey transport aircraft flying from the Iwakuni base transported water and food supplies from an MSDF destroyer off Yatsushiro port to disaster-hit areas.

Essence of alliance

One family in the prefecture, who received relief goods, is said to be planning to name a baby girl whom it is expecting this month after a female Osprey pilot who led her squadron’s mission to bring humanitarian aid and supplies to those in need, as a token of the family’s respect and gratitude.

Obama introduced the pilot, who was in the audience. He praised her squadron’s mission, saying it is “an incredible story that captures the essence of our alliance.” Indeed, the anecdote can be taken as proof that the new defense cooperation guidelines function properly.

Of concern is that the “free ride argument,” which was once seen, has shown signs of emerging again in the United States. The argument is based on the thinking that U.S. allies benefit unilaterally from the U.S. forces.

Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee in the November presidential election, has called on Japan to bear the entire cost of stationing U.S. forces in Japan and referred even to the possibility of withdrawing U.S. forces.

Japan’s expenditures in fiscal 2015 to host U.S. forces amounted to about ¥725 billion, including funds to help cover personnel costs and to carry out measures for the residents around U.S. bases. Japan’s burden of expenditures once topped 70 percent of the total cost.

Indeed, Japan bears its fair share of the costs. U.S. bases in Japan serve as a core stronghold in the U.S. forces’ forward deployment strategy and thus serve the national interest of the United States, too.

U.S. administrations to date have had such understanding. But it is uncertain to what extent Trump is informed in this regard.

As U.S. military and economic power has declined in relative terms, it may be inevitable for the country to incline increasingly toward “looking inward.” While assuming various developments, Japan must push ahead with proactive international contributions without neglecting efforts to build up its own defense capabilities.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 4, 2016)


srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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