By Lolita C. Baldor, Matthew Lee
TOKYO (AP) — The United States and Japan moved Thursday to modernize and expand their defense alliance to counter new 21st century challenges including the continuing threat from nuclear-armed North Korea and potential aggression from China over disputed territory.
Revamping the guidelines of their defense partnership for the first time in 16 years, the allies agreed to position a second early-warning radar in Japan within the next year to help protect against North Korea. And by next spring, they will deploy new long-range surveillance drones to help monitor disputed islands in the East China Sea, a move that may well raise tensions with Beijing.
The foreign and defense ministers of the two countries also, for the first time, put a price on what Japan will contribute to the relocation of Marines out of Okinawa to Guam and other locations in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan will pay up to $3.1 billion of the move, which includes development of new facilities in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and afterward laid out the details of the session. The talks, ahead of President Barack Obama's visits to Indonesia and Brunei next week, were aimed at modernizing the American-Japanese alliance that both sides maintain is a cornerstone of peace and stability in North Asia.
"Japan is changing and so is its neighborhood," Kerry told reporters at a press conference after the meeting. "So we're coming together now to modernize our deep cooperation, through both our military alliances and our diplomatic partnerships, and that is so we can better prevent and respond to the ever-changing threats of the 21st century."