Cabinet Adopts New Defense Policy
TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s Cabinet adopted a new defense policy Tuesday that calls for slimming down the military but expanding its roles in fighting terrorism and providing disaster relief.
The policy also reaffirms the importance of the defense alliance with the United States.
More contentious issues _ Japan’s ban on arms exports and calls for reducing U.S. troops in Okinawa _ were not included. The new defense policy replaces one formulated in 1976.
Kyodo News Service said that under a 10-year program of cutbacks, the number of troops in Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces would be reduced from 180,000 to 145,000.
A separate non-binding statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Koken Nosaka said Japan intended to maintain its basic philosophy of avoiding international conflicts, but in the interests of the U.S.-Japan security system would try to increase equipment and technology exchanges with the United States.
The calls for expanded uses of the military in anti-terrorism and disaster relief actions stem from Japan’s experience with two disasters this year: the earthquake that devastated the western port city of Kobe in January and the nerve gas attacks on rush-hour commuters in Tokyo subways in March.
The United States and Japan are discussing the streamlining of U.S. bases in Okinawa. Outrage over the rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by a U.S. serviceman has led to demands in the southern island for a complete withdrawal of American troops there.
Of the 45,000-plus U.S. troops stationed throughout Japan, 27,000 are deployed on Okinawa.