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Where does Japan stand on relations with the U.S.?

With Japan’s government still finding its ideological way after unseating the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its foreign minister, Katsuya Okada, has emerged as one of its clearer and more consistent voices. And with Japan set to chair the U.N. Security Council this month, where the subject of Iran may arise, that could be significant.

Okada stopped in Washington earlier this week and reiterated his belief that the U.S.-Japan security alliance is crucial, for Japan and Asia more generally. He also doesn’t hesitate to say that China is the reason the alliance is so important.

“Of course China is very necessary for Japan and very important economically,” he said during a visit with Post editors and reporters. “However, its political system is very different. So we believe that a strong alliance between Japan and the United States, which share a political philosophy, is important for the stability of Asia, and other Asian countries also feel that way.”

Okada stressed that the goal is “to engage China in the international community,” adding, “Its military capability is increasing, its military budget is increasing, and transparency is not sufficient.”

All of that may seem self-evident. But statements from other actors within Japan’s government have bred uncertainty in Washington about how committed Japan will remain to the U.S. alliance, as opposed to favoring better ties with Beijing or broader East Asian groupings.

My sense is that Okada is a good barometer of where Japan will end up, not only because he is right about the affinity between democracies but also because most Japanese people agree with him: They want friendly relations with China, but they also want the reassurance of a U.S. alliance as China’s power grows.

As for upcoming discussions on Iran, Okada said that he had told his Iranian counterpart that there is “not much time left. Unless Iran quickly shifts policy, the situation will become very difficult and severe for Iran.”

By Fred Hiatt  | April 2, 2010; 11:38 AM ET
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Comments

Corporate suicide for Japan. Religious suicide for Iran and cultural suicide for Obama US.

Posted by: tossnokia | April 2, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

i think that the friendly relations between US and japan back to one reason which is "interest" so Japan follow any thing US do and say

Posted by: atoota_net | April 5, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Fred Hiatt writes straightforwardly, “Where does Japan stand on relations with the U.S.?” Yes, China is constant headache to many a country today. Imperialism has been amalgamated with communism is always of serious concern.
Okada stressed that the goal is “to engage China in the international community,” adding, “Its military capability is increasing, its military budget is increasing, and transparency is not sufficient.”—This is, indeed, a great hindrance.
Although China is, at present, equally important to some of the countries continental’s vast market, they are as a whole selfishly motivated. If Japan, USA, India and others are thinking of peaceful co-existence, evidently a balance of power would be the ultimate gain.

Posted by: asokanandaprosad | April 5, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

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