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Remarks by Yasuhisa Shiozaki Member, House of Representatives, Japan Inaugural Tokyo-Washington Dialogue: The US-Japan Alliance after 3-11 Willard InterContinental Hotel, Washington D.C., September 7, 2011

First, I would like to express my sincere and renewed gratitude to the United States government and the American people for their assistance to Japan after the unprecedented earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear power plant incident on March 11th. We must turn this tragedy into an opportunity to recover and become a stronger Japan, and a stronger Japanese people.

(Another new Prime Minister)
As you know, in the post-war era, Japan now has its 31st Prime Minister. PM Cameron of UK is the 13th during this same period, and President Obama is the 12th president. (If we count the number of PMs during the 23 years after the Heisei Era began, there have been 17 PMs, or one PM every 1.4 years.) PM Noda is the 6th PM in the last five years. Unfortunately, political instability has only accelerated.

The Noda administration has started out with fairly high public approval ratings. This shows the high expectation among the Japanese public for "new politics" and their disdain for what they perceive as the same "old way" of running government.

The real issue here is whether the Noda administration can prove itself as a purveyor of "new politics" by overcoming the negative nature of internal "DPJ-style politics," and whether the new Noda government can effectively solve the deep rooted problems which recent governments could not. Personally, I wish the new government greater success than its predecessors but as you might have guessed, I am a little pessimistic about its future.

(Opportunity to Deepen and Strengthen the Japan-US Alliance)
"Operation Tomodachi" served as a tangible reminder of the need for and benefits of a strong and vibrant alliance. The crisis has allowed us to lay a new foundation for Japan and the US to actively participate together around the world, not just confined to disaster relief operations but on operations of a broader scope both unilaterally and in partnership with each other.

And in spite of all the tragedy and hardship, one positive in the aftermath of the disasters is that the Japanese have come to view the US military in a much more positive light.

And while devastating, the disasters also present us with a great opportunity to deepen and strengthen the Japan-US alliance. I would now like to talk about the challenges we face and how we should tackle these challenges.

Japan-US Alliance

On the issue of Futenma, it is the responsibility of Japan to make a prompt decision and act on this issue. Pledging to implement the current plan within three years might be acceptable to the concerned parties. Another alternative might be to allow the central government to make the final decision to hasten the process. After exhausting those efforts, we might have to consider yet more alternatives in Okinawa. In any case, we must make it clear that the US Marine presence in Okinawa is an indispensible part of our defense policy.

(China and Global Partnership)
On China, the healthy economic growth of China will benefit Japan and the United States. At the same time, Japan and the United States must also stand firm on our principles and continue to push China towards democracy. That includes pushing back against China's rapidly growing military budget which includes the modernization and reinforcement of its nuclear arsenal. Together with other Asian nations, Japan and the US should also oppose China's expanding maritime activities in both the East and South China Seas. We should also prepare for Chinese military activities beyond the Second Island Chain.

For its part, when necessary, Japan should send more clear messages to China. Last year's Senkaku incident was a case of diplomatic mismanagement. PM Noda seems to be cognizant of the importance of territorial sovereignty. If so, the Japanese government should consider purchasing the Senkaku islands from the Japanese citizen who owns them and then building a public facility maintained by Japanese personnel who would be stationed on the island.

I strongly recommend more and better communication, consultation, and coordination between Japan and the US in how we deal with an emerging China in a unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral context.

In 2006, when I was a senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, I visited the White House. I explained the importance of the East Asia Summit (EAS) and I recall very little interest on US side. This fall, the US will participate in the EAS for the first time and we welcome this participation. This is a good example of increased communication, consultation and coordination.

China has been extending assistance to North Korea for a variety of reasons. We need the Chinese to change their strategic decision on this issue and there should be a need for Japan, the US and South Korea to discuss the future of the peninsula and engage China at a later stage in the dialogue.

Last month I had the chance to visit Mongolia and meet Mongolian President Elbegdorj. We discussed Mongolia's desire to seek to a "third neighbor" other than China or Russia. Candidates for the role include Japan, the US, and South Korea. Are Japan and the US positioned to fill this role and nurture Mongolia's economic development and security policy? Given China's strong effort to capitalize on Mongolia's natural resources, are we ready to step in and be the "third neighbor?"

As I said before, we need better coordination between Japan and US not only as it relates to Mongolia but also as it relates to Myanmar and the other Mekong nations, and even in regions outside of Asia where China's influence is growing.

(2+2 Bilateral Agreements)
Finally, I suggest that the Noda government schedule the next 2+2 meeting as soon as possible and start a discussion on a new action plan.

Challenges for Japan

The basis for a better functioning alliance is reawakening Japan's strong economy and strong politics. Without strong politics, a strong economy cannot be achieved and vice-versa. And in order to revive Japan, a more consistent and stable economic and security policies are needed.

Strong economy and strong politics as the basis for deepening the alliance.

(Strong Economy)
The only way to revive the Japanese economy is not to procrastinate again, but to regain our competitive edge by converting our economic and industrial structure to a new one. "Reform" which ceased in 2007 should be resumed and accelerated. For that purpose, we must further open our markets through the EPA, FTAs and begin preparations to join the TPP.

(Strong Politics)
A change in government and two years of DPJ politics has taught us of the need for strong politics with more realistic, stable, and consistent set of policies that can effectively protect the people and the national interests, and promote economic growth.

In 2007, to improve the Japan-US alliance, then PM Abe made clear the inevitable need to change the interpretation of the Constitution on the right to collective self-defense and the "Three Principles of Arms Exports."

Thus, I and a group of other like-minded Diet members from all political persuasions, recently started a new multi-partisan group,
日本を根っこから変える保守の会 (Nihon wo nekko kara kaeru hoshu no kai) formed around the common ground of "conservativism." We know that the political realignment of parties is not easy. But without it, it is the people who have to suffer.

(Nuclear disaster and its implication for security alliance)
We are faced with the worst nuclear power plant incidents in history. We have learned many lessons from the accident but there are several lingering concerns as to whether or not Japan is going in a right direction.

First, PM Noda, Mr. Maehara and new METI Minister Hachiro have essentially announced their intention to abandon nuclear power and its technology over the coming decades.

But that decision has enormous implications on Japan's security policy, and on Japan's economy. The main beneficiaries of Japan's abandonment would be the nuclear states in East Asia. We also have to remember that we must keep pace with advances in nuclear technology to protect our people in the wake of a possible nuclear accident in neighboring countries.

I hope the new government will take another look at this policy and take into account how it would affect our national interests and the effect it would have on our alliance.

Second, the most important action we should take right after any accident is to investigate and review the real cause of the accident to prevent a reoccurrence. In Fukushima's case, it is the initial government steps that are being scrutinized.

In the case of the Three Mile Island accident, then President Carter promptly set up an independent investigation committee separate from the NRC within two weeks. I have initiated and introduced legislation to set up an independent investigation committee in the Diet primarily composed of scientists. Disappointingly, the DPJ has ignored this legislation and has only authorized one investigative committee within the government.

I hope that the new administration will agree to pass the legislation as soon as possible, and tell the world what really happened and detail the root causes of this historic catastrophe.

Finally, another reason why the government responses were inadequate after the accident is the inherent conflict of interest in having both regulatory and promotional agencies under the auspices of METI.

The DPJ government did decide to take the regulatory function away from METI and transfer it to the Ministry of Environment, together with additional oversight authorities from other ministries. But the government plan is lacking the most important factor for safer regulation; that is having total independence from all other branches of the administration and related ministries including climate change policy. In addition, it is imperative that the new regulator be immune to politics and the inherent political pressures placed on them.


Finally, I must add that the US also needs to reawaken its "strong economy" and "strong politics." Despite all the domestic problems including spending cuts being made on both sides of the Pacific, we must keep our bilateral alliance as viable as possible to maintain the peace and stability of the East Asia region.

In conclusion, Japan should use the disaster as an opportunity to move forward towards a better economic, industrial and energy policy which will lead to an enhanced Japan-US Alliance. This is a good time to integrate all the policies which have been so uncoordinated up to this point. Now is the time to revitalize and restore Japan. I commit myself to continuing to work towards improving and strengthening the Japan-US alliance.