US - Japan

Chronology from Jan 2006 to Mar 2006

: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff calls on Japan to implement a system to screen U.S.-bound shipping containers to guard against “dirty bombs” and other potential terrorist attacks.

: Japan and the U.S. postpone meeting at which they aimed to finalize a package on U.S. military realignment in Japan.

: Japan and the U.S. begin technical meeting in Tokyo to discuss a U.S. call to lift Japan’s reinstated import ban on American beef.

: BBC News reports that Japan’s military has been placed under a new unified command in the hope that the joint command office will smooth cooperation with U.S. forces in the Pacific.

: JDA chief Nukaga and Nago Mayor Shimabukuro meet again in Tokyo to narrow differences over a plan to relocate a U.S. Marine Corps air station.

: Kyodo reports that the Yokohama District Court rejected the Zushi Municipal Government’s lawsuit filed in September 2004 against over the state-approved construction of a U.S. military housing complex in Kanagawa Prefecture.

: Kyodo reports that JDA DG Nukaga and Nago Mayor Shimabukuro Yoshikazu hold talks but fail to agree on plan to relocate U.S. air station.

: Asahi Shimbun reports that Japan will propose a loan plan in lieu of payment for the estimated $10 billion cost of relocating Marines from Okinawa to Guam. Japanese lenders would finance construction and would be repaid with revenues generated from housing built in Guam.

: U.S., Japan, and Australia hold security talks in Australia. Beijing’s military and economic rise is the focus of the trilateral meeting. They share “grave concerns” about Iran’s nuclear program and the UN Security Council must act to deter Tehran from producing an atomic bomb. In a joint statement, they say the DPRK should return immediately and without conditions to the Six-Party Talks.

: Ambassador Schieffer warns Japan that their row over Japan’s ban on U.S. beef imports could set off a trade war. He also says that he expects Japan to reduce the disparity in defense spending between the two countries.

: After meeting Noriyuki Shikata, director of the Status of Forces Agreement Division, Iwakuni Mayor Ihara urges Tokyo to withdraw the planned relocation of U.S. carrier-borne aircraft to his city.

: PM Koizumi denies media report that Tokyo will revise the Japan-U.S. plan to build a new U.S. military airfield in Okinawa.

: U.S. proposes providing facilities on Guam for SDF to keep troops and an aircraft squadron there on a “full-time” basis for training.

: U.S. increases its estimate to relocate 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam to $10 billion and expects Tokyo to shoulder 75 percent of the cost. JDA rejects the proposal, noting that the budget is too “vague” to win Diet approval.

: Vice FM Yachi Shotaro visits the U.S. to hold talks with top officials and discuss issues such as the planned realignment of the U.S. forces in Japan, ban on U.S. beef, Iraq situation, Iran nuclear crisis, and UN reforms.

: Japan Times reports that the U.S. has agreed to return three facilities in Okinawa to Japan: the Makiminato Service Area in Urasoe, Naha military port, and Camp Kuwae (Camp Lester) in Chatan. The U.S. has also agreed to return part of Camp Zukeran (Camp Foster).

: Voters in Iwakuni overwhelmingly reject a plan to bring more planes and troops to a nearby U.S. Marine base.

: Agriculture Minister Nakagawa visits the U.S. and meets Secretary of Agriculture Johanns. Johanns asks Japan to resume imports of beef at an early date.

: Japan and the U.S. successfully conduct a joint missile interceptor test. The primary purpose of the test is to check a Japanese developed nosecone for the U.S. designed SM-3 missile.

: Japan and the U.S. hold senior working-level talks in Honolulu to discuss plans for U.S. military realignment in Japan.

: U.S. asks Japan to consider transferring senior ground troop officers to Basra in southern Iraq to join a reconstruction project after Japanese troops withdraw from Samawah.

: Secretary of Agriculture Johanns announces that Japan ended a decades-old ban on imports of fresh potatoes from the U.S. U.S. potato shipments will be allowed to enter the Japanese market on a conditional basis between February and June, and the potatoes will be used for potato chips. Japan imposed import restrictions on potato imports from the U.S. in 1950 because of concerns about potato wart disease and cyst nematode, a parasitic insect.

: U.S. and Japanese personnel begin joint drills in Takashima, Shiga Prefecture.

: U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer says the U.S. is ready to consider alternative ideas on the realignment of its forces in Japan, the first time that a senior U.S. government official indicates U.S. readiness to consider changes to the bilateral accord.

: PM Koizumi says he will shelve plans to give Japan its first full-fledged Defense Ministry since World War II after a military bid-rigging scandal.

: JDA DG Nukaga says in a Japan-U.S. defense meeting that the two countries need to accelerate talks and resolve various issues on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan to meet the March goal of finalizing a bilateral agreement. U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Lawless expresses concerns about any delay.

: USS Blue Ridge calls at Muroran from its home port at Yokosuka, despite a request from local authorities to postpone the visit. Welcoming events were held back for the visit, and city officials declined invitations to an on-board reception.

: Asahi Shimbun reports that the U.S. will ask Japan to contribute $6 billion to relocate as many as 8,000 Marines to Guam from their current facility in Japan. The relocation is scheduled for completion by 2012, but there are currently no facilities in Guam to receive the personnel and only $100 million budgeted for the task.

: Iwakuni Mayor Ihara Katsusuke announces a local referendum on the redeployment of U.S. carrier-borne aircraft to Iwakuni.

: Prosecutors arrest three officials of the Defense Facilities Administration Agency (DFAA) on suspicion of bid-rigging projects ordered by the agency. The DFAA acted as intermediary between the central and local governments for the U.S. force realignment plan.

: Asahi Shimbun reports that U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said “ideal reform [of the UNSC] would be to expand the membership to 16 with only Japan joining.” In his view, the U.S. would not support Japan’s proposed expansion of membership to 21.

: Secretary Rumsfeld holds talks in Washington with Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Acting Secretary General Aisawa Ichiro, former JDA Director General Ishiba Shigeru, and others. Rumsfeld calls for the swift relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station to the coast of Camp Schwab in Nago.

: Japan’s Financial Services Agency and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission agree on a framework for regular high-level dialogue. The two agencies exchange views on such issues as accounting and audit standards and corporate governance.

: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Nakagawa apologizes to House of Representatives Budget Committee for the government’s failure to send officials to check U.S. beef processors prior to resuming U.S. beef imports.

: Prosecutors indict William Reese for the murder-robbery of Sato Yoshie.

: Amb. Saiki meets Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes at the Treasury Department. They agree to continue close cooperation in addressing North Korea’s alleged counterfeiting and other illicit activities.

: Japan and the U.S. hold a bureau director-level meeting in Tokyo between Japanese foreign, farm, and health ministry officials and a delegation from the U.S. agriculture department. They agree to continue efforts to prevent more bad beef being shipped to Japan.

: Japan and the U.S. hold senior working-level talks in Honolulu to discuss U.S. military realignment in Japan.

: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries confirms Japan’s 23rd case of mad cow disease. The cow, a 64-month-old Holstein in Hokkaido Prefecture, is already dead.

: Secretary Zoellick expresses concerns to LDP leaders on deteriorating relations between Tokyo and Beijing. “We want Japan to become an even more positive global partner of the United States, and we also want Japan to prevent the history issue from becoming a minus.”

: FM Aso and Secretary Zoellick sign agreement in which Tokyo pledges $1.2 billion annually to aid U.S. plans to change military redeployments in Japan. The deal includes funding support for two years instead of the normal five.

: PM Koizumi tells Secretary Zoellick that Washington should act promptly to find out why spinal columns banned under a bilateral agreement were contained in a beef shipment to Japan and take measures to prevent any recurrence.

: Deputy Secretary Zoellick tells Japanese Agriculture Minister Nakagawa Shoichi that beef shipped to Japan that resulted in a new ban on U.S. imports was an unacceptable mistake.

: Shimabukuro Yoshikazu, thought more flexible than other candidates on a plan to relocate a U.S. military airport, wins mayoral election in Nago, Okinawa.

: Japan appoints Saiki Akitaka, chief negotiator for Japan-North Korea governmental talks, as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the U.S.

: Japan halts U.S. beef imports after discovering a bovine body part thought susceptible to mad cow disease in a U.S. beef shipment. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns sends inspectors to Japan and extra inspectors to plants that sell meat to Japan.

: Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick travels to Japan and China to discuss security and trade issues, including Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

: After meeting Secretary Rumsfeld in Washington, JDA head Nukaga says he urged compromises to permit the two countries to conclude their agreement on relocated U.S. forces in Japan.

: A U.S. F-15 jet fighter crashes near Ikeijima Island in eastern Okinawa; the pilot ejects safely. Nishi Masanori, chief of the Naha Defense Facilities Administration Bureau, requests that the U.S. suspend training of F-15s until they find the cause of the crash. He calls for security checks on all planes at the Kadena base.

: Nukaga Fukushiro, JDA head, meets Secretary Rumsfeld for talks.

: FM Aso indicates in a news conference it is uncertain whether the U.S. and Japan can agree on a final plan on the realignment of the U.S. military presence in Japan by March.

: Lt. Gen. Wright, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, calls at JDA, meets Administrative Deputy DG Takemasa Moriya and offers apologies for Sato’s murder.

: Wake is held in Yokosuka for Sato Yoshie. About 100 U.S. military personnel attend, including USS Kitty Hawk Commander McNamee, the suspect’s commanding officer.

: Finance Minister Tanigaki Sadakazu visits U.S. and meets Treasury Secretary John Snow, Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They discuss their countries’ economies and global economic issues such as high oil prices and China’s economy and currency reforms.

: Sasae Kenichiro, director general of MOFA’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, meets Assistant Secretary Hill in Tokyo; they agree to continue to work for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks.

: Japan’s SDF and the U.S. Marine Corps conduct exercise simulating the recapture of an island. Specialists think the exercise is directed at the Senkaku Islands.

: Japanese police arrest and send U.S. sailor William Reese to prosecutors on suspicion of robbing and killing a Japanese woman in Yokosuka.

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe Shinzo says Japan will not join Brazil, Germany, and India in resubmitting a resolution to expand the UN Security Council because it is pursuing cooperation with the U.S.

: Japanese police question U.S. sailor held in confinement at the U.S. naval base over the Yokosuka murder. Rear Adm. James Kelly, commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan, apologizes for the death of Sato Yoshie.

: Japanese Senior Vice FM Shiozaki Yasuhisa meets Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, State Department Counselor Philip Zelikow, and White House Deputy National Security Adviser Jack Crouch to brief them on Japan’s talks with North Korea last month.

: U.S. serviceman from the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk admits killing Sato Yoshie, a 56-year-old Japanese woman in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

: Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro states in his first press conference of the New Year that Japan should give top priority to its relationship with the U.S., whose troops it relies on to help maintain national security.

: GSDF advance team departs for a U.S. Marine Corps base in California for joint amphibious landing drills. More than 100 Japanese soldiers will participate.

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