NEWS | Jan. 14, 2019

U.S.-Japan Alliance Remains Cornerstone of Peace in Asia, Commander Says

By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON -- The U.S.-Japan alliance remains the cornerstone for peace and stability in Asia even as it has adapted to changing threats, the commander of U.S. Forces Japan said during a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo yesterday.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez said his 27 months in command of the 54,000 Americans who make up the joint U.S. force in the nation have been the honor of his life, and that he is extremely proud of the way American service members worked closely with members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

“Our alliance is built on shared values: respect for the rule of law and a commitment to freedom and prosperity for all,” he said. “It’s an alliance that fundamentally respects the sovereignty of other nations while resisting coercion and aggression in all forms.”

The U.S.-Japan alliance was founded and remains as a “force for good and a champion for peace and security,” the general said.

Though the security situation in Asia is becoming increasingly complex, Martinez said, the two allies are able to change and cope with the shifting realities. “We face shared security issues that demand continued close cooperation and flexibility to adapt to changing conditions,” Martinez said.

Japan’s leadership in Northwest Asia is vital, the general said.

The United States has worked closely with Japan to respond to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile provocations, he noted. “The United States and Japan have partnered with many other nations in the region to enforcement of United Nations Security Council resolutions aimed at monitoring ship-to-ship transfers of oil,” he added.

U.S. forces have worked with Japanese forces to “operationalize” guidelines for defense cooperation established in 2015. This cooperation runs the gamut from command posts to information and intelligence sharing to joint exercises.

Japanese self-defense forces have exercised alongside U.S. forces in the Philippines, Thailand and Guam, Martinez said.

Advanced Military Capabilities

U.S. Forces in Japan operate America’s most advanced military capabilities, including F-35 joint strike fighters, to Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft and the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp.

But forces have to be postured correctly and must be ready, the general said, and he emphasized the necessity for American forces to train. “Our presence in Japan and the region is a deterrent against those countries who leverage coercion and intimidation to influence other nations economic, diplomatic and security decisions,” he said. “We must remain ready to serve as a credible deterrent to fight and win if others close the path of aggression.”

Readiness requires training to be prepared for any contingency, the general said. “If we are going to send our sons and daughters into harm’s way, they must be the very best at what they do,” he added.

They need to train in all types of weather, at all hours, and in all conditions and circumstances, “so they can be as prepared as possible to the nations’ business,” Martinez said. “When it comes to our mutual defense, there is no room for second place.”