USA/Japan – Gates Cites Importance of U.S.-Japanese Relationship

SINGAPORE, June 3, 2010 – Citing North Korea’s March 26 sinking of the South Korean naval frigate, Cheonan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today underscored the need for continuing the strong security relationship between the United States and Japan to help the two nations and their Pacific partners meet the challenges they face.

Gates spoke with reporters traveling with him shortly before arriving here to attend the „Shangri-La Dialogue“ Asia security summit.

„We are in the midst of the 50th anniversary of the Mutual Security Treaty,“ he said. „This is a great year for the Japanese-U.S. security relationship, and I think that the sinking of the South Korean ship by [North Korea] simply underscores for everybody that there are security challenges in Northeast Asia, and therefore, the importance of the security relationship between the United States and Japan.“

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced his resignation yesterday, and Gates expressed his hope that Hatoyama’s successor would speak to the importance of that relationship early on.

Hatoyama’s resignation is widely reported to have resulted from his reversal of a campaign position that would have moved U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma off the Japanese island of Okinawa. Gates said he believes „a number of domestic issues“ also were factors, but that as the security relationship between the two nations moves forward, it must remain strong.

„By the same token,“ he added, „I think we have to be sensitive to some of the concerns that have been expressed by the Japanese in terms of training and noise and some of those things, and we will be working with the Japanese to see if there are ways to mitigate that.“

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