All national dailies reported on remarks made by Kenneth Weinstein, who has been nominated as the next U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Trump, at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday. The papers wrote that while welcoming Japan’s efforts to enhance its defense capabilities, the Ambassador-nominee reportedly said in his written testimony submitted to the committee and through online testimony that he will encourage Japan to strengthen its capabilities even further and shoulder greater responsibility within the alliance with the United States.
The papers also wrote that Weinstein said the relationship between the United States and Japan is stronger, broader, and more important than ever and expressed expectation that Japan will expand its role in dealing with China. According to the papers, the Ambassador-nominee expressed concern over Chinese vessels’ activities in waters around the Senkaku Islands. Regarding U.S.-Japan negotiations on Japan’s host nation support for U.S. forces, Yomiuri wrote that Weinstein expressed Washington’s desire for Tokyo to accept to some extent President Trump’s request for Japan to significantly increase its share of the cost of hosting U.S. troops. Mainichi wrote that the Ambassador-nominee expressed expectation that the “phase two” trade negotiations between the United States and Japan will reach a conclusion at an early date, citing the auto sector as the focus of the negotiations. Asahi wrote in its Thursday evening edition that Weinstein also commented on the relocation of MCAS Futenma by saying he will work with Japan to steadily implement the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
Nikkei wrote that Weinstein’s testimony clearly demonstrated Washington’s expectation for Japan to expand its role in responding to China. The paper wrote that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga said at a press briefing on Thursday that Japan is making independent efforts to fundamentally strengthen its system for self-defense, speculating that Suga made this remark in response to the Ambassador-nominee’s comment urging Japan to play a greater role.