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Hagel: U.S. strongly committed to protecting Japan

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:18 p.m. HST, Apr 05, 2014

YOKOTA AIR FORCE BASE, Japan >> Against the backdrop of Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Crimean region, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday he will convey to Japanese leaders that the U.S. is strongly committed to protecting their country's security.

Hagel said it is understandable that countries are concerned by the unfolding events in Ukraine, where Russian troops remain massed along the border. The issue reverberates in Asia where China, Japan and others are in bitter territorial disputes, including over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

"It's a pretty predictable, I think, reaction, not just of nations of this area and this region but all over the world," Hagel told reporters traveling with him to Tokyo.

"I think anytime you have a nation -- Russia in this case -- try to impose its will to refine and define international boundaries and violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a nation by force, all of the world takes note of that."

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Russel also said this past week that Russia's annexation of Crimea heightened concern, particularly among some Southeast Asian nations, about the possibility of China "threatening force or other forms of coercion to advance their territorial interests."

The U.S. has said it takes no side on the question of the disputed islands' sovereignty, but it recognizes Japan's administration of them and has responsibilities to protect Japanese territory under a mutual defense treaty.

Hagel said the U.S. wants the countries in the region to resolve the disputes peacefully. But he added that the United States would honor its treaty commitments.

There is no "weakness on the part of the United States as to our complete and absolute commitment to the security of Japan," Hagel said. "So I don't think there is any indication or any evidence that we're doing anything but strengthening our commitment to the security of Japan."

Asked whether the inability of the U.S. and its international partners to stop Russia might give Asian nations reason for worry, he said the allied response for Ukraine has been significant. He said there is no military solution to the problem, but diplomatic and economic penalties against Russia have isolated Moscow and "there will be consequences for that."

Speaking to more than 150 U.S. and Japanese troops in a hangar at the base, Hagel noted that this is his fourth trip to the region. The visits are part of an effort to make clear that America is a friend and partner, and reinforce "our continued commitment to our partnerships, our friendships and our treaty obligations."

Hagel's trip to Japan comes at the close of a three-day meeting in Hawaii with defense ministers from Southeast Asian nations. He will later travel to China, where he said he looks forward to talks about expanding military cooperation as well as the chance to air differences on the disputes.

Hagel said he would encourage Chinese leaders to abide by the international code of conduct.

China has expressed displeasure about recent moves by the U.S. to provide additional military assets and support to Japan.

Last October, the U.S. and Japan agreed to broad plans to expand their defense alliance, including plans to position a second early warning radar there by the end of this year. There is one in northern Japan and the second one would be designed to provide better missile defense coverage in the event of a North Korean attack.

The U.S. will begin sending long-range Global Hawk surveillance drones to Japan this month for rotational deployments, and they are intended to help step up surveillance around the Senkaku islands, a source of heated debate between Japan and China which both claim the remote territories.

In its latest symbolic gesture of support for Japan, the U.S. decided not to send a warship to participate in a Chinese naval parade as part of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium because the Japanese were not invited. U.S. military leaders, including the Navy's top officer Adm. Jonathan Greenert, will attend the symposium and view the ship review.

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mitt_grund wrote:
PM Shinzo Abe must be rubbing his hands in glee as he plots to reestablish the Japanese Empire. The Meiji Restoration leadership took advantage of this same logic to dip its hands into the northern parts of the Chinese empire to take possession of Mongolia and Manchukuo. Little Togo will let the US run intervention for his political goals. Typical of US to walk in blindly into "just" wars. Wonder if the vast majority of Japanese have a clue where this man is heading with his deep regard of the old Japanese Empire. Must be the reincarnation of Mishima. Mishima's spirit entered Abe's mind and body upon Mishima's hara-kiri on the failure of his attempted militant coup of the Diet.
on April 5,2014 | 03:14PM
Nevadan wrote:
Well put. There are two persons Obama obeys: Merkel and Netayahu. When Obama first became president, he wanted to show that he is the leader of the world, by talking back to Netanyahu. The Israel lobby put a stop to that immediately. Since then, he has been a good boy, and obeys Netanyahu. Of course, he continues to bully others.
on April 5,2014 | 04:21PM
mitt_grund wrote:
Also, US has no problem in waging war on what it considers to be inferior peoples.
on April 5,2014 | 03:16PM
pcman wrote:
Japan has every excuse needed to build their own nuclear weapons to offset any potential nuclear threats from North Korea or China. The Obama administration has lost the American superpower leadership in defense, finance and economics. Any nuclear umbrella that America has provided to Allies is no longer an effective tool as America has cut back its national defense to below WW II levels.
on April 5,2014 | 05:40PM
HD36 wrote:
Unfortunately Japan and the United states have embarked on weakening their currencies in a misguided attempt to pay off their government debt. The US is the largest debtor nation in the history of the world and Japan has the highest debt to GDP ratio of any industiralized nation at over 250%. China's efforts to trade freely with other nations without using dollars is gaining momentum as Germany has just signed on to the Yuan billateral swap exchange. If foreign countires no longer need to hoard dollars via treasury bonds, they will dump them. If they can buy oil from Russia in euros, or yen, and export food to China and take Yuan, alot of dollars will be coming home. The golobal monetary system has collapsed three times. Once in 1914, in 1939, and 1971. The first two preceded WWI and WWII. The third was when Nixon closed the gold window. When you connect the dots, it becomes clear. Currency wars, lead to financial wars, which lead to military wars. A much simpler and peaceful solution would be to cut the size of government by 50%.
on April 5,2014 | 03:23PM
Grimbold wrote:
Forms of collective ( meaning fascist or commi) governments need belligerence and war. China is falling into that category.
on April 5,2014 | 06:21PM
Nevadan wrote:
Your insight is inevitable. The last sentence says it all, but it won't happen.
on April 5,2014 | 06:30PM
Nevadan wrote:
Ooops, Paul (Krugman) will take exception to your last sentence. He'd rather increase by 50%.
on April 5,2014 | 06:51PM
HD36 wrote:
Oh yea, Nobel Prize winning economist who said in 2005, 2006, there is no housing bubble.
on April 5,2014 | 07:07PM
Nevadan wrote:
Don't forget Obama. He has a Nobel Prize too.
on April 5,2014 | 08:04PM
HD36 wrote:
Haha, yes, I forget though, what did he do to get it?
on April 5,2014 | 09:45PM
Nevadan wrote:
For doing nothing
on April 6,2014 | 04:27AM
samidunn wrote:
Ever notice that every country the US stays in prospers, like Japan, Korea & Germany. And every country we are asked to leave does not, like Philippines, Vietnam & Iraq.
on April 5,2014 | 08:07PM
HD36 wrote:
I remember Ron Paul saying the troops would spend their money at home instead of those places if we closed the bases.
on April 5,2014 | 09:47PM
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