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Obama Calls for Strengthening US-Japanese Alliance

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for renewing and strengthening the U.S.-Japanese alliance on the 50th anniversary of a security pact between the two countries.

In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Obama said America's commitment to Japan's security is "unshakable," and that U.S.-Japanese cooperation to meet common challenges is key to engagement with the world.

He said the U.S. and Japan are determined to build upon past progress made by Americans and Japanese to develop strong bilateral ties.

U.S.-Japanese relations have been strained lately due in part to a dispute about U.S. military bases on Japan's southern island of Okinawa.

On Tuesday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said the U.S. has been clear that a 2006 agreement to move a U.S. airfield to a less crowded part of Okinawa should be carried out.

But Campbell also said Washington believes strongly that having American forces in Japan is key to Asian security.

Some political factions in Japan say the airfield should be moved off Okinawa altogether.

The U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security was signed on January 19, 1960, during the Cold War. It called for Japan to provide land and facilities for U.S. military bases, and for the United States to protect Japan.

In his statement Tuesday, Mr. Obama highlighted the role of the treaty in supporting "regional security and prosperity," and in strengthening both countries.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.