INTERVIEW: Kishi Sees Growing Importance of Japan-U.S. Alliance


Tokyo, Sept. 27 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi has said that the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance "has reached an unprecedented level" due to "an increasingly harsh national security environment."

In an interview, Kishi, who took office on Sept. 16 under the administration of new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, said that he wants to "further boost the alliance's deterrence and response capabilities," and that he will work with the United States on introducing in Japan a missile defense system alternative to the scrapped plan to deploy the Aegis Ashore land-based interceptors.

"I would like to continue cooperating closely with the United States to consider a plan to deploy (Aegis Ashore) components to a mobile maritime platform," he said. "We need opportunities to directly speak with U.S. Department of Defense officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper." He also revealed a plan to visit the United States for such talks.

On the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma air base in the city of Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to the Henoko coastal district in Nago, another city in the southernmost Japan prefecture, Kishi reiterated the government line that it is the only viable solution.

"The fundamental point of the problem is to remove the danger of the Futenma base, which is surrounded by houses and schools, and is therefore said to be the most dangerous military base in the world, and to return the base site to the Japanese side," he said. "We must never leave it as dangerous as it is."

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