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Japan and the United States 2004-2005: Going Global?

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Special assessment rept.

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2004 proved to be an exceptional year for U.S.-Japan security cooperation. The alliance was strengthened by a number of legislative changes in Japan allowing the Self Defense Force SDF to work more closely with the U.S. military in providing logistical support in the event of a regional contingency. Japan also moved forward with plans to develop a ballistic missile defense system. l Japan also followed through on its commitment to deploy 600 members of the Ground Self Defense Force GSDF to Iraq in support of reconstruction and humanitarian aid. Despite domestic controversy and the withdrawal of other coalition partners from Iraq, Japanese public support for the GSDF mission increased over the year to the extent that Prime Minister Koizumi was able to extend the deployment beyond its initial one-year limit. l Regional security considerations were a major driver of Japan s decision to strengthen the alliance and move forward with its own defense transformation in 2004. Coordination between the U.S. and Japan on the North Korean nuclear standoff proved relatively strong, while Chinese naval activity in the East China Sea was a catalyst for stronger U.S.-Japan security cooperation. l The crash of a U.S. military helicopter in the city of Ginowan in August reignited issues related to the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement SOFA and the disposition of U.S. military bases in Okinawa. The crash also heightened sensitivity to negotiations on the realignment of U.S. bases in Japan, which had stalled out of Japanese concern that the reorganization of U.S. Army command to Camp Zama would exceed the authority of the original bilateral security treaty. l Despite the obvious gains made in security cooperation in 2004, issues such as Japan s participation in an exclusive East Asian Community will have to be handled gingerly in 2005 if the alliance is to continue to strengthen.

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  • Government and Political Science

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