“The US and Japan: Most Important Relationship In The Pacific Region”, says Senator Webb.
Senator Jim Webb spoke about the presence of the US military in Japan on April 5th, at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, in Tokyo (Chiyoda-ku) and affirmed the importance of US-Japan relationships. Senator Webb, a former journalist, a novelist, and Democrat, said that the relationship between Japan and the US is “the most important relationship in this part of the world,” in terms of keeping stability in a region, that over a century “has become very volatile, when one or another of the major powers in North-East Asia has attempted to exercise power in a way that has affected the region.”
A veteran of the Vietnam War, Senator Webb has a long experience dealing with North and South East Asia. He has worked on the issue of the US military presence in Guam and Okinawa since 1974, when he was a military planner doing a study for the governor of Guam on the US base system on the Pacific and what were the strategic interest for the US. He said he was searching for a solution to the military presence in Okinawa and Guam that will allow the US “to maintain a proper presence in the region in a time sensitive way, looking also at the concerns of the Okinawan people.” Senator Webb visited Japan several times during his 10 years in the US Senate, as a US government official, and as Secretary of the NAVY in 1987. Having visited various mayors of major cities in Okinawa during the past few days, he said that he does not see that “people of Okinawa have rejected the presence of the US military.” Senator Webb implied that there is actually grass roots support for a US presence in Okinawa. In fact, due to the Operation Tomodachi efforts by the US military which aided post 3/11 Japan, over 70% of the population now holds a favorable opinion of the US military according to the Asahi Shinbun and other sources.
After visiting Okinawa and Tokyo, Senator Webb will be visiting Thailand, and Myanmar, to meet with the new government following the recent elections.
With regard to the recent announcements by North Korea to launch a missile camouflaged into an “observatory satellite,” Senator Webb said that the launching of a missile by North Korea “at this point, would be a violation of the United Nation’s Security Council Resolution.” He also said that the North Korean regime is not “transparent,” and that there was no way for the US government to “have an open dialogue, that would indicate what would North Korea’s intentions really are in any of these areas.” He also said that he was in Japan in 1998, when the North Korean missile was actually launched, and he could see the how much this effected the peace of mind of the Japanese people.
Senator Webb said that on an issue like this, all the countries in the pacific region “would benefit from the Chinese government being more open and more visible in assisting the US in resolving international conflicts,” such as the stand off in North Korea. He added that China could help the US also to resolve tense situations in Iran, Pakistan and Burma.
North Korea has invited JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and other countries to observe the launch of their satellite later this month, which Japan and Russia has been refusing to do.
In terms of American intelligence capabilities inside the DPRK, the uranium enrichment facilities are very difficult to detect, and the “observation satellite” that North Korea intends to launch could be an ICBM (inter-continental ballistic missile) that would carry a nuclear warhead in the future. Senator Webb said that the US human intelligence capabilities are “not very good,” and that it is very difficult to have an understanding of the real intentions of the new regime, because the country is “very opaque,” which affects the way the US has to approach the issues of this launch. He also said that people have been categorizing the launch as being a “missile”. Either way, “the trajectory of the missile” is at a level where it is considered to be violating the UN Security Council’s Resolutions at a time, when the US was engaged in “confidence building”. “Confidence building” is a term used in diplomacy, which generally means to build a relationship of trust. Senator Webb seemed to imply that the satellite launch would be a test of the intentions of the new North Korean regime—and he did not seem confident that the results of that test would inspire great confidence in North Korea.