US - Japan

Chronology from Apr 2006 to Jul 2006

: Kyodo News reports that Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe says that the U.S. has no worries over the relationship between Japan and China and that the U.S finds it odd for China to refuse holding summit talks with Japan over the Yasukuni Shrine issue.

: Kyodo News reports that Japan urged the U.S. to implement border security measures that minimize the negative impact on Japanese visa applicants by asking Washington to resume visa revalidation within the U.S. and expand the number of locations within Japan that accept visa applications. Japan also expresses concern over the U.S. Defense Production Act of 1950, which contains a provision for the president to suspend or prohibit any foreign acquisition, merger, or takeover of a U.S. corporation that is determined to threaten national security, saying it lacks transparency and predictability. The U.S. requests Japan to secure equal treatment for foreign and Japanese stocks and for Japan to prepare fair taxation measures for the “triangle merger” scheme scheduled to start next May.

: PM Koizumi and President Bush issue joint statement declaring a new alliance for the 21st century based on “common values and interests.” Bush agrees to step up cooperation on reforming the UN to realize Japan’s bid for a permanent UNSC seat.

: Kyodo News reports that Japanese destroyer Kirishima returns home, cutting short participation in naval exercises off Hawaii. Some attribute the return to the need to monitor and track a possible North Korean missile launch.

: Prime Minister Koizumi makes final visit to the U.S. as prime minister. A White House Dinner, Oval Office summit, and Graceland visit are planned.

: A joint survey shows 60 percent of respondents say they do not want to eat U.S. beef when imports resume, and 61 percent say they will not, or try not to eat U.S. beef. 60 percent have doubts about the safety of U.S. meat processing, and 52 percent are concerned about the U.S. meat inspection system. 71 percent of respondents say they are either “opposed” or “fairly opposed” to lifting the ban.

: Financial Services Agency of Japan and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hold second dialogue in Washington. Issues include accounting and auditing standards, corporate governance and internal controls, facilitating technological advances in securities markets, and crossborder enforcement cooperation.

: Financial Times reports Japanese officials tell the U.S. that Japan is prepared to freeze Iranian bank accounts if Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment and accept a package of incentives from the international community.

: Japanese government team visits U.S. government-designated meatpacking facilities. Inspectors from Japan will inspect 35 plants in 16 states to ensure that Japan-bound beef is free of mad cow disease. Upon returning, the ministries will analyze their findings and authorize beef shipments.

: FM Aso and Ambassador Schieffer sign agreements to strengthen cooperation on ballistic missile defense development. JDA announces that a high-resolution radar that can detect a ballistic missile has been deployed in northern Japan. The two countries confirm plans for the U.S. to deploy Patriot missiles on U.S. bases in Japan. Pentagon spokesman says the PAC-3 missiles have not been sent to Japan and the locations and timetable for deployment have not been announced.

: Japanese Aegis-equipped destroyer Kirishima takes part in a U.S. missile defense test, performing long-range surveillance and tracking exercises with the destroyer Shiloh.

: Japan and the U.S. exchange ratification documents for a mutual legal assistance treaty that will expedite criminal investigations and trial proceedings on cross-border crimes. The treaty scheduled to take effect July 21, is the first mutual legal assistance treaty for Japan.

: Kyodo News reports that the U.S. calls Japan’s decision to withdraw ground troops from Iraq and increase airlift support as a “positive” example of progress in transferring the security role to the Iraqi people. U.S. Ambassador Hadley states that Japan is staying in the mission and actually expanding its air role.

: Japan agrees to resume buying U.S. beef after Japan sends inspectors to the U.S. to monitor meat-packing facilities. Imports will be restricted to cattle younger than 20-months old with risky parts of the body removed.

: In Tokyo nearly 100 demonstrators and opposition lawmakers gather to oppose lifting the ban on U.S. beef imports.

: Prime Minister Koizumi announces Japan will withdraw ground troops from Iraq. The ASDF will remain to transport goods and personnel for the coalition.

: U.S. UN Ambassador John Bolton and his Japanese counterpart Oshima Kenzo meet to discuss North Korean preparations for test firing a ballistic missile, agreeing to seek an immediate convening of the UNSC should North Korea test a missile.

: U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer meets FM Aso and says the U.S. and Japan will consider economic sanctions if North Korea launches a ballistic missile.

: Kyodo News reports thatat Japanese government-sponsored meetings, many Japanese consumers express concerns about the safety of U.S. beef.

: Kabaya Ryoichi, mayor of Yokosuka, says his city would accept the first U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be stationed in Japan. Kabaya says he has no choice because there is no possibility that a conventional aircraft carrier will be sent.

: Danny Valerie, a Navy petty officer second class, is arrested in Yokosuka on suspicion of molesting a 15-year-old girl.

:  Kyodo News reports that the heads and high-ranking officials of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, and the People’s New Party are firmly against lifting the ban on U.S. beef imports, saying the move is politically motivated and compromises food safety.

: Japanese Cabinet endorses and submits a bill to the Diet that would elevate the Defense Agency to a full government ministry and would make SDF overseas activities one of its main functions. The bill aims to upgrade the SDF’s role to include participation in international relief efforts, UNPKO and to assist U.S. forces during emergencies in areas surrounding Japan.

: Treasury Secretary John Snow asks Japan to consider joining Washington’s plan to impose financial sanctions on Iran. Japanese Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki replies that Japan and the U.S. would need to consider the plan further while talking with European countries. Tanigaki and Snow also discussed foreign exchange rates, efforts to reform the International Monetary Fund’s voting-share system, and Japan’s efforts to overhaul revenues and expenditures to address its debt.

June 12, 2006: Kyodo News reports that FM Aso and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice agree to continue cooperation to resolve the nuclear crisis in Iran. Aso says Japan will continue to play an active role and the U.S. pledged to keep in close contact with Japan on the issue.

: Department of Defense approves sale of nine interceptor missiles with BMD upgrades to Japan in a potential $458 million deal. The deal still has to be approved by Congress.

: During a 25-minute phone call, Japanese Foreign Minister Aso Taro urges Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to hold talks with the United States and to seriously consider European proposals to resolve the nuclear standoff.

: Treasury Department official announces that a U.S. foreign investment review panel cleared a bid for Toshiba to take control of Westinghouse, the U.S. power plant arm of British Nuclear Fuels. The merger will create the world’s largest nuclear reactor maker.

: U.S.-Japan Investment Initiative in Tokyo meets. U.S. ambassador to APEC Michael Michalak urges Japan to facilitate foreign mergers and acquisitions.

: U.S. move to have Myanmar (Burma) formally discussed at the UN Security Council for the first time is opposed by Russia, China, and Japan. Japan states that Myanmar’s political crisis did not pose a threat to international peace and security. State Department spokesman announces that the U.S. will discuss the issue with Japan.

: Yokohama District Court convicts and sentences U.S. sailor William Reese to life in prison for fatally beating a Japanese woman during a robbery near Tokyo.

: Japanese officials say the LDP will seek to end a decades-old ban on military involvement in space development. The proposed bill relaxes regulations and allows for non-aggressive military use of space. The bill is expected to be submitted to the Diet later this year.

: Japanese Cabinet approves plans for the realignment of U.S. troops. 8,000 Marines will move from Okinawa to Guam. Japan will cover 60 percent of the $10.3 billion cost of relocation. Okinawa Prefecture has yet to consent to the plan.

: Gov. Inamine agrees to continue discussions on the Japan-U.S. accord to transfer the airfield of Futemma Air Station to the coastal area of Camp Schwab in Nago, Okinawa.

: Kadena Municipal Assembly in Okinawa adopts a resolution and a statement of opinion on a recent mishap involving a U.S. F-15 fighter jet at Kadena Air Base. The assembly demands that the U.S. military take measures to prevent accidents and that they remove the F-15 squadron from Kadena.

: Okinawa Gov. Inamine officially announces opposition to a plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futemma Air Station within Okinawa.

: Yomiuri Shimbun reports that JDA head Nukaga proposed a new framework for security cooperation to replace the 1997 Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation during “2+2” meeting in Washington.

: The U.S. and Japan release a joint statement confirming a bilateral deal to realign U.S. Forces in Japan by 2014. Major features include the integration of USFJ command structures with the headquarters of several branches on the U.S. mainland. Under the deal, Japan will pay for infrastructure costs and the U.S. for operational moves.

: Japan Times reports that the Japanese government plans to slash defense spending to come up with the ¥2.71 trillion needed to shoulder the cost of realigning the U.S. military presence. It also plans to ask the U.S. for an overhaul of Japan’s payments hosting U.S. forces, including abolishing the practice of Tokyo paying utility bills for bases.

: Deputy Defense Undersecretary for Asia and Pacific Affairs Richard Lawless reports that Japan will pay an estimated $26 billion or more to help implement the U.S. military realignment in Japan over six to seven years.

: Yomiuri Shimbun reports that the U.S. will return four military facilities in Okinawa to Japan. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, Naha Military Port, Makiminato Service Area in Urasoe, and Camp Kuwae in Chatancho will all be returned by the end of fiscal 2013.

: Japan and the U.S. strike a deal on sharing the cost of relocating 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, with Tokyo paying 59 percent, or $6.09 billion, of the estimated $10.27 billion total cost through grants, investment and loans. JDA Director Gen. Nukaga and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld announce the agreement, paving the way for implementation of the package to realign the U.S. military presence in Japan.

: Yomiuri Shimbun reports that Japanese and U.S. defense and foreign ministry officials agree to move KC-130 midair refueling planes to Iwakuni Air Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and to use a U.S. base in Guam or the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Kanoya Naval Base in Kagoshima Prefecture during prolonged training maneuvers involving the planes.

: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns repeats request that the Japanese ban on U.S. beef be lifted early, warning that Congress will likely reach the limit of its patience with Japan by the end of the month.

: Okinawa Gov. Inamine Keiiji voices opposition to a government plan to relocate a U.S. Marine Corp Air Station, including provisions to build two large runways.

: Japanese Defense Agency (JDA) chief Nukaga Fukushiro and Nago Mayor Shimabukuro Yoshikazu agree to build two runways at the site of a U.S. military airfield to be constructed in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture.

: Kyodo reports that Japan and the U.S. agree to begin two-year joint research projects in developing advance technologies for a sea-based radar system and combat command system as part of bilateral cooperation in ballistic missile defense.

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