U.S.-Japan Pact Has Demonstrated Worth, Gates Says

TOKYO, Jan. 13, 2011 — The U.S.-Japan defense pact has demon­strat­ed its val­ue over the past 50 years, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates told stu­dents at Keio Uni­ver­si­ty here.
In a ques­tion-and-answer ses­sion after a speech he deliv­ered the morn­ing of Jan. 14 in Japan – late this evening on the U.S. East Coast — the sec­re­tary also said he believes Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao is firm­ly in con­trol of the Peo­ples’ Lib­er­a­tion Army, but the civil­ian and mil­i­tary sides must com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter.

Gates spoke at the begin­ning of a day that will take him from the col­lege to Seoul, South Korea, and then to Wash­ing­ton, D.C. He told the stu­dents that Japan­ese defense costs would sky­rock­et if the nation decid­ed to go it alone.

“Because of our alliance, Japan has been secure from for­eign threats for over half a cen­tu­ry at a cost of less than 1 per­cent of its gross domes­tic prod­uct,” Gates said. “I would say, in eco­nom­ic terms, this alliance has been a very good deal for Japan.”

Gates went on to say that the Unit­ed States and Japan work­ing togeth­er are stronger than either would be oper­at­ing inde­pen­dent­ly.

Chi­na is a con­cern and a chal­lenge to the Unit­ed States and Japan, the sec­re­tary not­ed. The Unit­ed States and Chi­na have coop­er­at­ed many times since the nor­mal­iza­tion of U.S.-China rela­tions in 1972, he told the stu­dents. Ear­ly in the rela­tion­ship, he said, the two coun­tries coop­er­at­ed against the Sovi­et Union, and since then, the nations have close and huge eco­nom­ic ties.

“I think there are a wide array of rela­tion­ships between the Unit­ed States and Chi­na that under­pin the con­tacts between the two coun­tries and pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for us to get to know each oth­er bet­ter and to coop­er­ate,” the sec­re­tary said.

On the mil­i­tary side, Gates and his Chi­nese coun­ter­parts agreed that the mil­i­taries can coop­er­ate in coun­tert­er­ror­ism, coun­ter­pira­cy, human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance, dis­as­ter relief and oth­er areas. Also, Chi­na, the Unit­ed States, Japan, South Korea and Rus­sia “very much have in com­mon the need for sta­bil­i­ty and peace on the Kore­an penin­su­la,” he said. Oppor­tu­ni­ties always are present for nations with dif­fer­ent eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal sys­tems to work togeth­er, Gates said. He cit­ed as proof his expe­ri­ence with the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency dur­ing the Cold War and the con­tacts he main­tained with Sovi­et lead­ers. Two coun­tries hav­ing dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal sys­tems is no obsta­cle to har­mo­nious rela­tion­ships, he said.

Gates told the stu­dents and fac­ul­ty that there are signs of a “dis­con­nect” between Chi­nese civil­ian and mil­i­tary lead­ers.

“We think the civil­ian lead­er­ship was not aware of the aggres­sive approach by Chi­nese ships to the USNS Impec­ca­ble a few years ago,” he said. “We also think the civil­ian lead­er­ship may not have known about the anti-satel­lite test that was con­duct­ed about three years ago, and … there were pret­ty clear indi­ca­tions that they were unaware of the flight test of the J‑20 [stealth fight­er Jan. 10],” he said.

Part of this dis­con­nect can be explained by bureau­crat­ic mis­takes, Gates said, but it still wor­ries him.

“One of the rea­sons why I have pressed so hard for there to be a deep­er, senior-lev­el mil­i­tary-civil­ian dia­logue from both coun­tries is we have no forum right now on mil­i­tary issues that includes senior civil­ians and mil­i­tary,” he said.

“I don’t ques­tion the [Com­mu­nist] Party’s con­trol of the Peo­ples’ Lib­er­a­tion Army,” he con­tin­ued. “I have no doubts about the fact that Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao is in com­mand and in charge, but I know from our own sys­tem that some­times there are dis­con­nects with mil­i­tary infor­ma­tion flow­ing to our civil­ian lead­ers.”

Gates said the U.S. sys­tem fea­tures the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, in which mil­i­tary and civil­ian staffs work side by side and mil­i­tary infor­ma­tion is shared in detail not only with the White House, but also with the State Depart­ment.

“There are oppor­tu­ni­ties in this dia­logue to advance this civil­ian-mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion,” he said, “and I think it would also enhance mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ships.”

Gates imme­di­ate­ly left the uni­ver­si­ty to trav­el to Seoul, South Korea.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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