A Japan-U.S. security statement to be released next year
will single out China and North Korea as sources of
instability and provide for closer military cooperation
between Tokyo and Washington against threats in the
Asia-Pacific region, a Japanese newspaper said on
The report by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper
coincides with growing concern in Japan about China's
military build-up and North Korea's missile and nuclear
programmes.Designating China as a potential threat would
anger Beijing, already upset over a similar statement in
a sweeping review of Japan's defence policy this month.
Calls have emerged in Japan to revise the 1960
U.S.-Japan Security Treaty -- the pillar of Tokyo's
post-World War Two defence policy -- to accommodate U.S.
requests for Japan to host a U.S. Army command covering
the Pacific Rim as part of Washington's realignment of
its forces around the globe. Revising the treaty would
be politically difficult given lingering pacifism and
opposition to the tightening of U.S.-Japan security ties
since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Most Japanese voters opposed Japan's deployment of
troops on a reconstruction mission in Iraq, its riskiest
military venture since 1945. The Nihon Keizai newspaper
said the two allies would not revise the bilateral
security treaty, which limits the role of U.S. troops
based in Japan to the Far East. Instead, they would
outline in a statement how Japan and the United States
would cope with threats such as terrorism, North Korea
and tensions between Taiwan and China, it said.
A Japanese military source said drafting the document
was likely to take several months. "We have to discuss
common strategic objectives, roles and missions, and the
U.S. military posture in this region and Japan in the
future," he said. Whether and how China would be
mentioned remained to be seen, but the source added: "We
have to discuss how to address common strategic
objectives, how we see the international environment.
We should discuss each issue, such as the Korean
peninsula, the Taiwan Strait, southeast Asia and the
global war on terrorism." In a revamped defence policy
this month, Japan mentioned China's military build-up as
a cause for concern along with the potential threat from
North Korea. Beijing denounced that designation as
"groundless and extremely irresponsible". Sino-Japanese
ties have grown frosty of late, most recently because of
Japan's decision to issue a visa to former Taiwan
President Lee Teng-hui to visit as a tourist. Beijing,
which sees self-ruled, democratic Taiwan as a renegade
Chinese province, has protested and urged Japan not to
let in the 81-year-old Lee, an outspoken advocate of
independence for Taiwan.
China, where bitter memories of Japan's past militarism
run deep, is also annoyed over Japanese Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to Yasukuni shrine,
where World War Two war criminals are honoured along
with Japan's other war dead.