Monday, May 1, 2006

Senior U.S. and Japanese leaders called on China yesterday to explain its secret military buildup and urged North Korea to return to six-party talks on its nuclear program.

A joint statement by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and their Japanese counterparts called for “greater transparency on the modernization of military capabilities in the region,” in what U.S. defense officials said was reference to a Chinese arms buildup that is prompting worries for both governments.

Beijing has refused to disclose details about the scope and goals of a large-scale military buildup under way for at least a decade that includes three new types of strategic nuclear missiles, three new types of submarines, and large purchases of weapons from Russia and other developed nations.

The statement followed meetings of Mr. Rumsfeld, Miss Rice, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga on reorganizing U.S. forces in Japan.

Mr. Nukaga said during a press conference that China’s economic growth has led to increases in defense spending and called for pressure to “increase the transparency of military capabilities of China to ensure the sense of security among the neighbors.” The matter was discussed during the talks, he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld called the alliance “vital” and said military changes being made in Japan will “ensure the enduring capabilities of the alliance, built on a stable, sustainable U.S.-forward presence in the Pacific.”

“The reality of the world today is that to be credible, to deliver on real deterrents, to assure peace we’re committed to maintain, we need to match our words with our deeds,” he said.

Mr. Aso said “very close cooperation” with the United States is needed because of continued “uncertainty” in the Asia-Pacific region.

The leaders “urged North Korea to return expeditiously to the talks without preconditions, to dismantle its nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and to cease all illicit and proliferation activities.”

The leaders’ meeting, known as the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee, finalized Pentagon plans to relocate about 8,000 Marines now based in Okinawa to Guam. The shift is part of a major international force reorganization program, and Japan will pay for $6 billion of the $10 billion Guam-relocation costs.

Other elements include moving Marine Corps CH-53 helicopters now based on Okinawa to Guam and upgrading U.S. Army command and control systems at Camp Zama near Tokyo to boost coordination between U.S. and Japanese forces.

Japanese air forces also will move to the U.S. Air Force’s Yakota air base, west of Tokyo, and Japan will set up a new missile defense center to coordinate U.S. and Japanese defenses against missile attack.

The Pentagon also will deploy a new X-band radar for use with its ground-based missile defense at the Japanese air force Shariki Base, in Tsugaru in northern Japan. Additionally, Patriot PAC-3 missile defenses also will be deployed in Japan.

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