News / Asia

    Kerry in Asia to Discuss Security, Trade

    Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department, Sept. 19, 2013.
    Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department, Sept. 19, 2013.
    Daniel Schearf
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has started a six-day trip to East Asia for meetings on regional security and trade.  Kerry will participate in a U.S.-Japan defense dialogue in Tokyo before joining President Barack Obama in Bali for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). 
     
     Kerry arrived in Japan Wednesday one day ahead of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee.
     
    The strategic defense dialogue in Tokyo brings together the top U.S. and Japanese diplomats and defense chiefs.
     
    Japan's Kyodo news agency reports the two sides will discuss a schedule for revising a bilateral defense agreement by the end of 2014.
     
    The decades-old security arrangement outlines responsibilities for U.S. and Japanese forces in defending Japan.
     
    Tetsuo Kotani, a researcher at the Japan Institute of International Affairs, said the meeting Thursday to change that agreement marks the beginning of a new U.S.-Japan alliance.
     
    “So far, U.S. provides offensive capabilities and Japan provides only defensive capabilities, which is called 'spear and shield' division of labor.  But, from now on, Japan will possess both offensive and defensive capabilities which means Japan and the U.S. will (would) become more equal...partners,” Kotani explained.
     
    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering changing parts of Japan's pacifist constitution in the face of China's increasingly assertive claims on disputed territory.  
     
    But a more capable Japanese military would upset neighboring countries who suffered under Tokyo's World War II aggression.
     
    Kotani said Japan wants to demonstrate it can defend itself. He said worrying instigators like China is part of the point.
     
    “We understand some Americans are concerned about Japan's move.  But, it's diplomacy, it's deterrence," Kotani noted.
     
    Also likely to be disturbed by such actions is South Korea, Washington's other key ally in the region.
     
    Renewed tensions between Tokyo and Seoul over history and territory have hung like a cloud over U.S. diplomacy.
     
    In one possible sign of warming relations, South Korea's Yonhap news agency on Wednesday reported joint naval drills this week among the three nations.
     
    Secretary Kerry will be joined in Tokyo Thursday by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who has been in Seoul for talks on adjusting the U.S. defense of South Korea from Pyongyang's nuclear and missile threats.  
     
    After meeting with his South Korean counterpart Wednesday, Hagel said they agreed to consider delaying a planned transfer of war-time military control to Seoul in 2015.  He also reaffirmed the commitment to strengthen combat capability and readiness throughout the Asia Pacific. 
     
    “The United States makes this commitment not only because of our mutual defense treaty but also because of our firm view that North Korea’s policies and provocations pose serious threats to regional stability and global security," Hagel said.
     
    He added that the two sides signed a joint military strategy for creating a framework on how to deter and handle specific threats from Pyongyang, including weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
     
    "Our particular concern is on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, its proliferation activities and its chemical weapons. There should be no doubt that any North Korean use of chemical weapons would be completely unacceptable," Hagel said.
     
    After the security talks in Tokyo, Secretary of State Kerry heads to the Indonesian island of Bali Friday for regional trade talks among Asia Pacific nations.
     
    U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum where he is expected to push for progress on a regional free trade deal.
     
    Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) involve 12 countries from Australia to Southeast Asia to the Americas.

    Youmi Kim, a producer at VOA's Seoul bureau contributed to this report

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.