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Group calls for stronger U.S.-Japan security ties

Jiji Press

Richard Armitage, left, and Joseph Nye in Washington in a 2007 file photo

Jiji Press WASHINGTON (Jiji Press) — The United States and Japan should strengthen their security cooperation, including joint base operations by the U.S. military and the Japan Self-Defense Forces, to deal with threats from China, a group co-chaired by former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in a report Wednesday.

Due to Trump’s “America First” agenda, the U.S.-Japan alliance’s future is “less clear today than at any other time in the 21st century,” the group, also co-chaired by Harvard University Prof. Joseph Nye, pointed out.

“While the United States and Japan debate 20th-century tariffs, the 21st-century threats to regional security and prosperity — particularly from China and North Korea — are growing,” the group said.

“The allies must move forward together and accept a greater leadership role in Asia and around the world,” it stressed.

The Armitage-Nye team compiled reports on strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance in 2000, 2007 and 2012, as well.

In the latest report, subtitled “Renewing the U.S.-Japan Alliance for the 21st Century,” Japan is urged to increase its defense spending to over 1.0 percent of its gross domestic product, in response to China’s military buildups, and North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

The two countries are advised to “move toward joint and combined use of allied bases” and “create a combined joint task force for the western Pacific,” in order to “operate more effectively together in a crisis.”

The report notes Japan’s contribution to saving the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiative after the United States’ withdrew from it, but claims that the country “could still go further in liberalizing its economy.”

“Tokyo must move beyond supporting Washington’s initiatives to become a truly equal partner and co-leader of the regional order, willing and able to advance proposals that propel our shared agenda forward — even where Washington is not supportive in the near term,” it said.

Meanwhile, with Trump leaving open the possibility of scaling down the U.S. military presence in South Korea, the report said, “Exercises, troop presence, and missile defense should not be bargaining chips for unverifiable and incomplete denuclearization promises from the North.”Speech

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