Talks illustrate US need for partnership with Japan

WASHINGTON - Japan and the United States clearly declared the summit talks held on Tuesday "a historic step forward in transforming the US-Japan partnership" in their Joint Vision Statement. US administration officials are trying to emphasise the latest Japan-US summit talks as a successful example of a "rebalancing" policy inside and outside the nation.

Criticism against US President Barack Obama over his diplomatic skills has intensified. A case in point is how the Group of Seven nations could not keep in step with each other when the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was launched, which left an impression that Obama lacks leadership power.

Also, the United States has been attaching great importance to co-operation from Japan as its ally since Japan faces up to China while US power has been declining. The importance of Japan, which shares basic values with the United States, has only been growing in a region where the US model of democracy and the rule of law clashes with the Chinese approach of disorganizing the established order from an authoritarian position.

The United States is also worried about the conflict between Japan and South Korea on their historical perceptions. If South Korea cooperates with China on this topic, it will widen the gap between Japan and South Korea. That could become a major obstacle to dealing with the urgent threat of North Korea's nuclear and missile development.

The joint statement stipulates: "The journey our two countries have travelled demonstrates that reconciliation is possible when all sides are devoted to achieving it."

The United States is urging Japan and South Korea to overcome historical differences as the United States and Japan did.

When US and South Korean senior government officials met in Washington on April 16, the American officials asked their counterparts not to pressure Japan on history or Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech to the US Congress, according to sources.

Meanwhile, Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, asked Japan to constructively deal with the issue in accordance with its past statements. An example of such a statement is the one issued by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the war.