TOKYO — US Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s first visit to Japan has been cast as a major step forward in cementing a new era for bilateral defense cooperation as the allies look to complete a revision of US-Japan defense guidelines April 27, just before the 2+2 US-Japan Security Consultative Committee scheduled the following day.
Following a Wednesday meeting with Japan Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, Carter and Nakatani confirmed several key issues.
For the US, Japan will push to shift the US Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station to a different location on Okinawa, a move that has met a lot of resistance from locals but is central to the US forward-basing strategy as part of its “Asia pivot,” reinforcing its presence in East Asia to contain China. Carter advocated that policy when he served as deputy secretary of defense in 2011-13.
Nakatani stated that Japan “will steadily” implement the relocation … “to maintain deterrence and reduce the burden of Okinawa in hosting bases based on an agreement reached during the two-plus-two talks in 2013. It is also part of the US rebalancing policy and very important,” he told reporters.