News / Asia

Hagel: US Committed to Protecting Japan

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands before their meeting at the latter's former official residence in Tokyo, April 5, 2014.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands before their meeting at the latter's former official residence in Tokyo, April 5, 2014.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is in Japan for talks with high-level officials. Upon arrival, he reassured the country that America is committed to Japan's security, but analysts say his mission is complicated by regional disputes over territory, as well as some lack of clarity in the U.S.'s own strategy.

Hagel is in the region to strengthen U.S. cooperation with its Asian allies on military and security issues, which White House officials said is essential in keeping Asia prosperous.

On Saturday, he said there is no evidence the U.S. is doing anything but strengthening its commitment to the security of Japan.

The trip comes as looming territorial disputes and growing nationalism have pulled countries in East and Southeast Asia further apart. The White House has admitted that the situation is “imperfect,” but has also stated its commitment to playing a positive role.

Alejandro Reyes, a visiting professor at Hong Kong University and studies U.S. foreign policy in the region, says that new governments in China, Japan and Korea are pushing for radical reforms at home and need to shore up the support of their own people.

“How do you do that? Partly, as you can see it in Russia too, and in the United States, in many different countries these things happen, that in order to boost your domestic political support you can use your foreign policy if you will, not to be reckless necessarily but at least to gear up some nationalist sentiment, patriotic fervor,” he said.

Territorial disputes

Patriotic fervor does not bode well with security cooperation.

Ahead of Hagel's visit, the United States decided to withdraw its participation in a ship parade held by China, after Beijing refused to invite Japan.

The two Asian neighbors are caught in a bitter territorial dispute over small islands in the rich resource waters northeast of Taiwan.

The United States has maintained neutrality on the issue, but as Japan's closest ally in the region, Washington has a treaty obligation to defend the country in case of aggression.

Reyes says that budget restructuring within the U.S. military, as well as a cautious posture in President Barack Obama's foreign policy elsewhere has some ramifications in Asia as well.

“The hard question, particularly when leaders in this region look at what is gone on in Syria, what's gone on in Ukraine, the president drawing red lines and not actually backing up its words, there are questions, legitimate questions particularly I would say in Japan what would happen if there was conflict between China and Japan? Would the United States actually come on the side of Japan as strongly as the Japanese might hope?” said Reyes.

On Saturday, Hagel said that it is predictable that an event such as Russia's annexation of Crimea might resonate in other areas of the world, including Asia.

He said, anytime a nation tries to impose its will to violate the territorial integrity of another nation by force, the world takes note.

Hagel added that in such a crisis "allies are going to look at each other to be assured."

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Comment Sorting
by: Shintaro Sakamoto from: Japan
April 06, 2014 4:03 AM
Japan intends to proactively contribute to world prosperity and peace. In fact, Japan has contributed to peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world. This is the historical fact for current half century.
Japan, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not expect a war. We shall be prepared if others (China or Korea) wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just.
In Response

by: china guy from: beijing
April 08, 2014 1:29 PM
who can belive japan as it invaded into other countries and killed so many people. we people only respect the past.

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
April 05, 2014 3:39 PM
Like America committed to protect Ukraine, lol
Yeah, America is severely punishing Russia now with sanctions on Visas.
I am sure America will threat to stop issuing Chinese visa if China invade Japan, lol

by: Not Again from: Canada
April 05, 2014 3:36 PM
You can not blame the fact that, the Western deterrence value has slid significantly on the Obama Administration, some errors have been made, but collective defence rests on all members of the collective. The failure has come about, due to the so called "peace dividend" which has blinded Western allies over the past 20+ yrs. The US is no longer the economic giant, towering well above every other country, as it was 20/30 yrs ago. The collective interests of all democratic nations, in alliances with the US, need to be fully re-examined, their contribution to security and stability needs rework. A parasitic relationship, is no longer realistic nor sustanable, the US is no longer the super economy. Every member of the collective has failed to hold up its own portion of the defensive load. In my view, both Japan and the big EU member nations of NATO have demilitarized their forces, wrt the military gains by potential regional adversaries. And this downgrading has occurred in all areas of security. They are no longer even are conducting high level exercises, maybe they do not even know where or in what condition their equipment/supplies are in. There is a need to re-examine security needs against the significant capability increases of potential adversaries, and not expect that the US must carry all the load; each nation needs to contribute in accordance with their economic, GDP, ability, and in a ratio that is not significantly less than the US; it is the only way to increase the collective deterrent value. Lack of a significant deterrent value will lead to conflicts/wars. A high deterrent value, will not prevent 100% of the conflicts, but it will go a long way in minimizing/curbing the expansionist adventurism and appetite of authoritarian leaders.

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