U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone on Tuesday and agreed that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. She also met with Prime Minister Taro Aso and the Democratic Party of Japan chief Ichiro Ozawa. She invited Mr. Aso to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Feb. 24; Mr. Aso will be the first foreign leader to be invited to the White House since Mr. Obama took office.
Ms. Clinton apparently chose Japan as the first stopover in her first overseas trip as secretary of state to reassure Japan that the United States is not giving priority to its ties with China. But the U.S. regards Japan-U.S. ties as part of its large strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region. Japan needs to carefully study the Obama administration’s strategy. The U.S. may call for more Japanese contributions to the stabilization of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Japan should develop its own approaches to the issue based on its own principles and clearly present them to the U.S. before being told by Washington to do something.
Mr. Nakasone and Ms. Clinton agreed that the two nations must advance their efforts to “secure a complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea” through the six-party talks. Ms. Clinton denounced a reported move by the North to test-launch a ballistic missile. She also said the issue of abduction of Japanese citizens by the North remains part of the six-party talks. The agreement that Japan and the U.S. should act together toward North Korea is encouraging.
The top diplomats of Japan and the U.S. signed a new pact under which the Japanese government will make direct contributions of up to $2.8 billion for relocating some 8,000 U.S. marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam. Japan should make sure that the money is used solely for reasonable related projects. The pact says the marines’ transfer depends on the move of Futenma Air Station from Ginowan to Nago. The government should solve the Futenma issue as soon as possible by striking a feasible compromise with the Okinawan prefectural government.