- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pressing Japan

The U.S. ambassador to Japan yesterday urged Tokyo to spend more on its own military, noting that American taxpayers are subsidizing Japan’s defense.

“We hope Japan will do more,” Ambassador Thomas Schieffer said in a speech.

Referring to Japanese critics who oppose a stronger military, the ambassador added, “It is proper to remind them that the American taxpayer pays more than four times as much for defense as does the Japanese taxpayer.”

Although the United States is obligated under a treaty to defend Japan and stations more than 40,000 American troops there, the ambassador called on Japan to share the burden and increase its military budget beyond what it currently spends, about 1 percent of its gross domestic product. In its fiscal year that ended March 31, 2006, Japan spent about $41 billion on defense out of a GDP of $4.6 trillion.

Mr. Schieffer applauded Japan’s efforts to supply noncombat troops to Iraq, even though some Japanese lawmakers have complained that the deployment violated Japan’s constitution. The postwar constitution prohibits Japan from maintaining a traditional military, so Japan created an armed force only for self-defense.

Tokyo sent 550 troops to Iraq in 2004 for a two-year deployment. It still maintains about 200 airmen in Kuwait to provide logistical support for U.S. troops in Iraq.

On another issue, Mr. Schieffer defended Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after he apologized for denying that Japanese soldiers used thousands of young women as sex slaves during World War II. Mr. Abe this week endorsed an official 1993 apology issued by Yohei Kono, who was Cabinet secretary at the time.

“I think that the prime minister has reaffirmed his government’s belief that they will stand by the Kono statement,” Mr. Schieffer said. “I think that’s good news for everyone, and hopefully it will defuse some of the criticism that has occurred around the world for Japan.”

Most historical accounts say Japan forced up to 200,000 young women, mostly Koreans, into army brothels.

Threat to India

Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen rejects the argument that poverty causes terrorism and is calling for a global war against terrorists without respect to religion or region.

“Terrorism is a hydra-headed monster. It is global,” Mr. Sen said at a forum this week sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“To look at it through blinkers of any particular religion, any particular region or any particular so-called cause would be not only dangerous but also a dangerous delusion because this is a phenomenon which is global and has to be tackled globally.”

The Press Trust of India quoted the ambassador as rejecting poverty as an excuse for terrorism.

“That is an argument we don’t buy,” he said, adding that if poverty causes terrorism, then India “would be the country churning out the most number of terrorists.”

Mr. Sen, in an obvious reference to India’s regional rival Pakistan, said, “We are next to and right adjacent to the biggest source and destination of weapons of mass destruction. We are also adjacent to the largest global concentration of terrorists.”

Mr. Sen expressed India’s opposition to Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

“It is against India’s national security interests to have another nuclear state in our area,” he said.

The ambassador told the AIPAC audience that India strongly values its bilateral ties with Israel, although India did not establish full diplomatic relations with Israel until 1992. Since then, the two countries have cooperated widely on counterterrorism efforts and Israel has become India’s second-largest arms supplier, after Russia.

Mr. Sen attributed the long delay in recognizing Israel to India’s domestic politics especially during the Cold War, when India was closely aligned with the Soviet Union.

“We could have moved faster,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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