|TOKYO, March 30, 2007 – The United States and
Japan are increasing their military cooperation
and coordination to face evolving threats, the
commander of U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force
“The security relationship between the United
States and Japan is tied to international
knowledge and understanding of the alliance,” said
Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Wright.
bedrock of U.S. strategy in Asia remains the
Japanese-U.S. Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and
Defense. Signed in 1960, the treaty relationship
between the two nations has changed, but the
document still remains relevant.
years after the end of a horrific war between our
nations, Japan and the United States made a
decision to move forward,” Wright said. “The words
in the treaty come from America’s ideal – all are
created equal, a commitment to freedom and
democracy for all.
“What’s neat for me is
that the results speak for themselves,” he
continued. “The results are exemplary. It is now a
pact between the two greatest economic powers in
the world. We are mutually supportive economically
and certainly in our military-to-military
Wright said coordination
and cooperation between the two militaries has
increased exponentially. In 1960, the United
States essentially was responsible for the defense
of Japan. The enemy at the time was the Soviet
Union. China was a lurking menace, and the Korean
War was just seven years in the past.
Today, the North Korean threat has drawn
the two countries closer together, Wright said.
North Korea has proliferated missile technology,
and the country’s nuclear test last year gave
impetus to the relationship between the United
States and Japan for ballistic missile defense.
“There is a lot of debate within Japan
over the issue of collective self-defense,” the
general said. Japanese and American forces are
working together to establish the missile defense
posture. “That requires a level of close
coordination that hasn’t been needed in the past,”
A new joint operations and
coordination center at Yokota Air Base, Japan, was
very effective during the North Korea missile
tests, Wright said. A new bilateral and joint
operations coordination center is going in at
Yokota and will be operational in 2010. U.S. and
Japanese personnel will use their own equipment,
but coordination will be close.
time of a missile from North Korea to Japan is
short, Wright said. The coordination needed to
defend against that threat is extensive and should
carry over to other aspects of U.S.-Japanese
“If you can handle the
ballistic missile defense problem, it’s going to
percolate in a joint bilateral way in how we
coordinate,” Wright said. “It’s just an
improvement in defense capabilities. There is no
expansion of U.S. or Japanese forces involved. In
a resource-constrained environment, it is using
information systems technology, it’s building on a
shift in our traditional ways of doing business.”
The two militaries working together equal
more than the sum of their parts, Wright said.
What is more, the pact allows for allies to play
“This is an alliance that
has its arms open,” Wright said. “This military
alliance should and does reach out to include
with multiple countries in the region, including
South Korea and China.
foundation of an exemplary alliance, now is the
time to reach out,” he continued. “Certainly,
Australia is an important part of this alliance.
That’s just another example of the relevance of
the alliance in a dynamic security alliance.”
The Japanese have moved more decisively
into security operations. The Japanese Ground
Self-Defense Force sent engineers to Iraq. The Air
Self-Defense Force is flying missions out of
Kuwait. The Maritime Self-Defense Force maintains
tankers in the Indian Ocean, providing long-term
capabilities for navies operating there.
“The Japanese have a lot of pride in the
operation in Iraq,” Wright said. “It had a
positive affect on the Japanese as a whole. The
military for years has not been very visible.
That’s changing over time, and I think that it is
changing for the good in the context that it
reminds people that there is a Japan-U.S. military
partnership. It is helpful to both nations at the
The United States will
continue the realignment of its forces in Japan,
Wright said. “(The realignment) will be expensive,
but I think the forces are about the right size
and it is essential to work on the roles and
missions and capabilities of our forces for the
future,” Wright said.
That assessment, he
said, must include improved planning coordination,
interoperability, more consistent and persistent
joint and bilateral training and addressing common
weapons systems so those systems are compatible.