By Sakae Toiyama in Washington
On May 6, Regional Revitalization Minister Shigeru Ishiba, who is now visiting the U.S., emphasized the need for Japan to directly manage the U.S. forces in Japan, by saying, “We need to consider stationing them on the premises of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) bases in the sense of renting space.” He also suggested that the Constitution be amended and that revising the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the Status of Forces Agreement be “seriously looked into as ways to expand the SDF’s role and strengthen the bilateral alliance.” He made the remarks at a symposium hosted in Washington by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
It is unusual for an incumbent minister to make such specific remarks on revising a bilateral treaty. There is a possibility that opposition parties will react strongly to his remarks.
Ishiba said: “Japan should shape the alliance so that the concept of ‘jointly defending each other’ can be realized eventually” with an eye on Japan’s direct management of U.S. forces in Japan. He emphasized the need to make the alliance more reciprocal based on the right to collective self-defense.