The ICAS Lectures

No. 2003-1014-THF

The Japan-US Security Relations:
The Implication for the Korea-US Security Relations

Takehiro Funakoshi

ICAS Fall Symposium &
Humanity, Peace and Security
October 14, 2003 12:00 NN - 5:45 PM.
U.S. Senate Dirksen Office Building Room SD 562
Capitol Hill
Washington, D. C.

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Biographic Sketch & Links: Takehiro Funakoshi

The Japan-US Security Relations:
The Implication for the Korea-US Security Relations

Takehiro Funakoshi
First Secretary
Embassy of Japan


It is my great pleasure to speak at this ICA Fall Symposium. My name is Take Funakoshi. I am in charge of the US-Japan security relations in the Japanese Embassy here in Washington D.C. I arrived at this town August 19, 2001, three weeks before 9/11 terrorist attack. Since then, a lot of things happened which required response of the alliance.

Today, I am going to talk about the Japanese security policy, mainly in three areas, the bilateral security relations, Iraq and North Korea. Both Japan and Korea are the allies of the US. Many countries in Asia have security relations with the US, but Japan and Korea are the only countries which host a large number of the US forces. We have very good relations with the US, but difficult issues sometimes arise.

Of course, the domestic situation, history and other things surrounding Japan and Korea are different, but we have many things in common. Therefore, I do hope my talk today can provide you with some implications for the management of the US-Korea security relations.

Before I start, please note that what I am going to talk today is based on my personal view and does not represent the official positions of the Government of Japan (GOJ).

Bilateral Security Relations

(1) Let me start with the bilateral security relations. I understand that the US and Korea have been engaged in the alliance review. I also understand that the discussion includes the meaning of the alliance, the force structure of the US forces in Korea (USFK), and the capability of the Korean military. From the similar points of view, let me go over through the current status of the US-Japan alliance.

(2) By the US-Japan Security Treaty, the US has the legal obligation to defend Japan when armed attack against Japan occurred, while Japan does not have legal obligation to defend the US in case of armed attack against the US. This is because the interpretation of the Japanese Constitution does not allow us to defend other countries by exercising use of force. On the other hand, Japan has the legal obligation to provide bases to the US for the purpose of defending Japan and contributing to the international peace and security in the Far East. Please note that the phrase of "Peace and security in the Far East" is clearly written in the treaty as the purpose of the alliance. This is one of the important differences between the US-Japan Security Treaty and the US-Korea Defense Treaty, whose range, I understand, is mutual defense in the Pacific, and virtually focuses on Korean Peninsula.

(3) In 1996, as the result of the alliance review, the US and Japan announced the Joint Security Declaration, which reaffirmed the meaning of the US-Japan security alliance after the Cold War. It said that the US-Japan security arrangement continues to be indispensable for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. Based on this Declaration, Japan and the US decided to make a new "Defense Guideline," which mainly stipulates the basic principles for defense cooperation in the contingencies in the areas surrounding Japan. Under the new the Defense Guideline, Japan is expected to provide logistic support to the US forces.

(4) This involved difficulty domestically and internationally. Domestically, Japan had to make new legislation to implement the new Defense Guideline. Previously the Self Defense Force (SDF) had provided logistic support to the UN PKO operations, but this was the first legislation to enable the SDF to provide logistic support to the combat activities by the US forces. We had very difficult national debate.

Internationally, this caused an issue with China. China argued the Chinese territory including Taiwan should be excluded from the scope of the Defense Guideline. In this regard, Japan and the US regard contingency in the area surrounding Japan not as geographic concept, therefore we cannot automatically exclude any given area from the scope.

(5) The new Defense Guideline, I believe, significantly enhanced the credibility of the US-Japan security alliance. Among about 100,000 US forces stationed in Asia Pacific region, about 40, 000 are stationed in Japan. Therefore, the US-Japan Security Treaty can be said as the largest pillar to sustain the US military presence in the region. In Asia-Pacific region, there are still a lot of uncertainties, including North Korea. Under these circumstances, the US military presence provides the only credible deterrence in the region. In this sense, the US-Japan Security Treaty is functioning as a kind of infrastructure to maintain peace and stability in the region.

(6) Let me mention to other aspects of the alliance. Japan and the United States are engaged in the joint research of the missile defense system since 1998. No final decision has yet made, but JDA is requesting the budget for the next fiscal year, which foresees the actual deployment of the missile defense program in the future. Like Korea, Japan is strengthening our own defense capability, but I will reassure you that we will not acquire the equipment for offensive purpose. We will adhere to our exclusively defense oriented policy.

(7) Another important development of the alliance is that Japan has dispatched the SDF to join the OEF since Dec. 2001. In response to 911, Japan made new legislation to enable us to provide logistic support to the OEF. The Japanese vessels have provided oil to as many as 10 countries, which at one point accounted for nearly 50% of all the oil consumed by the coalition navy.

(8) As is the case with the USFK, the Pentagon is engaged in the force structure review for the US forces in Japan (USFJ) as a part of their global force structure review. Compared with the USFK which are mainly consisted of Army, the USFJ, which are consisted mainly of Marine, Navy and Air Force, are considered to be more mobile and expeditionary. On the other hand, about 75% of the bases of the USFJ is concentrated on a small islands of Okinawa. If the US could reduce the footprint and relieve the burden of the people in Okinawa without prejudice to the capability, that would consolidate the domestic support for the alliance.


(1) Now, let me change the subject and talk about Iraq. As you know, Japan announced explicit support for the US military action immediately after the action was taken place. Japan has also been cooperating with the US on the reconstruction process.

(2) For Japan, like Korea, this was not an easy decision by a number of reasons. First, Japan is an ally of the US. On the other hand, Japan has traditionally put strong importance on the United Nations. Second, in Japan, still a vast majority of the people hold favorable feeling for the United States, but we also observed "European Syndrome." A number of Japanese people argued France and Germany were doing good job. Although they are the allies of the US, they are saying what they believe is right. Before the war, more than 70% of the Japanese people were against the military action.

(3) Even under these circumstances, the GOJ, headed by Prime Minister (PM) Koizumi, decided to support the US. Why was that? First, national security is an overriding goal. When he announced the support to the US military action, PM Koizumi said that the United States is the only country which regards attack on Japan as the attack on its own. Therefore, it is only natural that we support the United States, especially when we have to face the problems of NK.

Our thinking was also rooted to the security infrastructure. In Europe, there is organized security institutions like NATO. Even when bilateral relations are jeopardized, the multilateral security organization can work as safety nets. Unfortunately, we do not have such safety nets in Asia.

(4) Second, we thought this is the best way to have say to the US. Japan does not want to damage the credibility of the UN. However, in order to restore the credibility of the UN as well, the one of the most effective ways is to have say to the US. In fact, we started talking with the US on the post war resolutions from the very early stage.

(5) Although majority of the Japanese people were opposed to the war itself, simultaneously majority showed the understanding to PM Koizumi's decision to support the US.

(6) Now Let me explain about Japan's contribution. Japan was one of the first countries to have announced the package of humanitarian assistance, which amounted to $100 million. We are also funding a number of projects which have important impacts on the welfare of the Iraqi people, including the dredging project of an important port in the south, the power plant in Baghdad and Basra and so on. There is going to be a Donor Conference in Madrid later this month. Although the financial condition of the Japanese Government is difficult, I think we will make a fair pledge. Our basic policy is to provide seamless assistance for the sake of the Iraqi people.

(7) The Japanese Diet recently passed new legislation that paves way for Japan to send Self Defense Force to Iraq. Despite the opposition from the opposition parties, PM Koizumi was steadfast in moving forward with this legislation. Although our assistance is limited to non-combat activities under Japanese Constitution, we can, for the first time in the history, send Japanese SFD on the ground with US and Korean troops. These troops can contribute to humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and activities that will restore Iraq' security.

Since the General Election will be held in November, actual dispatch of the SDF is still a dedicate issue. However, PM Koizumi said in his most recent policy speech at the Diet that, taking the situations in Iraq into consideration, we will make appropriate contributions including the dispatch of the SDF.

North Korea

(1) Finally, I would like to move on to North Korea. Japan wants to normalize our relationship with North Korea in line with the Pyongyang Declaration, which was signed by PM Koizumi and Kim Jong Il when PM visited Pyongyang in Sep 2002. More benign North Korea is good for Japan's security.

On the other hand, we do not have an intention to live as a good neighbor with nuclear-armed North Korea. The dismantlement of any nuclear weapon program in a verifiable manner is absolutely necessary for us to develop good relations with North Korea. We also have the abduction issue, which has greatly worsened Japanese people's feeling towards North Korea. Japan raised this abduction issue in the last 6 Party Talk as well. Picking up this point, North Korea publicly said that Japan should not be invited to the next round of 6 Party Talk. Not only is this issue important for the security of the Japanese people, but Japanese people would never allow the government to do anything substantial, including providing large scale economic aid, without the solution of this issue.

PM Koizumi visited the Crawford earlier this year. For the dialogue part, we want to continue the process of the 6 Party Talks. Japan emphasized the importance of the dialogue to the US on the process of realizing the 6 Party Talks as well. By closely consulting with the US, Korea, China and Russia, Japan is ready to pursue a comprehensive solution of the issues without prejudice to the security environment in North East Asia. North Korea's showing the commitment to dismantle its nuclear program in a verifiable manner is a prerequisite for the solution, but if that commitment is shown, we can discuss the sequence toward the comprehensive solutions, including things to do on our part such as security assurance, energy and other economic issues, and things to do on North Korea's part including how to implement its commitment and how to reduce other threats.

I think there are three important things from Japan's points of view. First, we should not reward the North Korea's brinkmanship. Second, nuclear issue is the center of our concern, but other issues should be addressed as well. These issues include the abduction and missile issues. It is said that North Korea has already deployed more than 100 Nodong missiles whose range covers the entire territory of Japan. This is very serious to Japan's security. Third, we should show the exit In the Pyongyang Declaration, Japan showed its intention to provide economic cooperation if the normalization is achieved. I think it important to show to North Korea what are waiting for them if they fundamentally changed their behavior.

(3) The pressure part is more familiar to me, given my portfolio at the Embassy. If North Korea does not stop its nuclear activities and continues to pose serious threat to the neighboring countries, just promoting dialogue is not a starter.

Pressure can include a number of things. For instance, Japan is strictly implementing our export control policy. We can also enhance our surveillance capability towards North Korea as necessary. And of course, if North Korea escalate the situation, bringing the issue to the UN Security Council is always an option.

In addition to these, enhancing the deterrence is also a very important means of pressure. From Japan's viewpoint, this means further enhancing the credibility of the US-Japan security arrangement. It is very difficult to tell North Korea's intention on nuclear programs. Some says North Korea's intention is to acquire bargaining power with the US, others say that North Korea really wants to have nuclear weapons. The problem is we cannot tell it for sure. Therefore, it is important for us to continue to enhance the credibility of deterrence. We do seek for the peaceful solution of the issue. On the other hand, the preparation for contingency is always necessary, which I believe would contribute to the peaceful solution of the issues.

(4) Let me mention to the responses of the US-Japan alliance to North Korea's threat. From the past, North Korea tried to drive a wedge between Japan and the US. Although it is quite natural to have some difference given the respective domestic situations, historically North Korea's security threat had always resulted in strengthening the alliance rather than creating the divergence. Let me give you some examples. As I said at the beginning, in 1996, Japan and the US announced the US-Japan Joint Security Declaration. The domestic consensus in Japan was greatly facilitated by the crisis in '93 and '94.

Anther example. In August 1998, North Korea conducted a missile test over the territory of Japan. This facilitated the domestic discussion on the Guideline Bill, which was adopted by the Diet in May 1999. North Korea's missile test also facilitated two important decisions in the Japanese security policy. It was just four months after the missile launch that the Japanese Government decided to go into the joint research of the missile defense program with the US. In the same month, December 1998, Japan decided to develop the Information Gathering Satellites. The first two satellites were just launched in March this year. And current nuclear issues are again facilitating the domestic decision to move forward with the deployment of the missile defense programs.

(5) Finally, the current situation on nuclear issue is similar to '93 and '94 in some aspects, but important fundamentals are different. Now we have multi-layer dialogues; six party talks and a number of bilateral talks. China is playing a very constructive role. China and Russia share the goal with us on nuclear issues. North Korea's economic situation is even worse. And the credibility of the US-Japan security alliance have been enhanced.

Given all those, although it may take some time, I see the dynamism for a peaceful solution. Although it is not an easy task, I think the US, Japan and Korea, in cooperation with China and Russia, can seek for the peaceful solution of the issues by closely coordinating policies among us, by promoting the dialogue with North Korea on multilateral and bilateral basis, and by further enhancing the credibility of the security arrangements at the same time.

Thank you.

This page last updated 10/18/2003 jdb

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