TOKYO, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Japan and the United States undertook to review and update the two countries' defense cooperation framework with the discussions Thursday aimed at forming the basis of agreement for the foreseeable future under more balanced terms.
The Meeting of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee, known colloquially as the "two-plus-two" security meeting, was the first time the meeting was held in Japan and marks the first formal review of the two countries' security alliance in 16 years.
Attended by Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the two sides concluded after the talks in Tokyo that in the interests of peace and stability in the region, a more "balanced" and effective alliance needed to be struck between Washington and Tokyo and other regional partners.
Kerry and Hagel traversed the issue of new military hardware in Japan and stated that following the meeting Thursday, provisions would be made to augment joint capabilities regarding space and cyberspace.
Kerry also stated that a second TPY-2 radar would be deployed to Kyoto Prefecture in a bid to bolster the U.S. ability to protect its own territory as well as that of Japan against potential ballistic missile threats.
The deployment of drones in Japan from 2014 was confirmed by the two sides as well as P-8 maritime patrol aircraft from the end of this year.
On the issue of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) as they are sometime known -- and specifically the U.S.'s mainstay Global Hawk -- defense authorities confirmed that while they have been used in Japan in the past, they have yet to be stationed here permanently.
The U.S. Secretary of State referred to this move as being integral to meeting the challenges of a 21st century security alliance.
The original defense cooperation guidelines were set out in 1978 and both parties commented agreed Thursday that since the end of the Cold War and the subsequent revisions made to the alliance in 1997, geopolitical shifts in the region necessitate the guidelines be revised.
But with regard to ongoing territorial disputes Tokyo is currently embroiled in with a number of its closest neighbors, the U.S. side maintained that it would not take sides on issues of sovereignty.
Kerry urged all sides involved in current territorial standoffs to refrain from unilateral actions that may inflame the situation and said he hoped that efforts toward diplomacy and dialogue would be used to resolve current conflicts.
Tokyo bolstering its military hardware may be met with unease by some of Japan's neighbors, political pundits suggested Thursday, at a time when Japan is pushing for diplomacy and increased dialogue with neighboring countries who feel Japan has misinterpreted its militaristic history and taken an unwavering stance on territorial issues.
Analysts here indicated that Tokyo is walking a tightrope between trying to rectify ongoing conflicts by calling for increased diplomacy and exacerbating them by simultaneously beefing up its military clout.
The two-plus-two meeting also reexamined a 2009 pact, provisionally made to see around 8,000 Marines moved off Okinawa which plays host to the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan, in the interests of easing the base-hosting burdens of the locals there.
Okinawans have consistently called on both prefectural and central governments to see their base-hosting burdens lifted, amid instances of numerous military-related accidents, increasing pollution and a number of globally reported, heinous crimes committed by U.S. military personnel.
Half of the marines will be shifted to the U.S. island of Guam, with the U.S. side assuming the bulk of the cost for the sizable relocation, the two sides agreed.
On the issue of the accident-prone, tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey aircraft currently stationed in Okinawa, it was decided that some of their operations would be conducted outside of Japan's southernmost prefecture and could include operations abroad.
An agreement to relocate the Futenma Air Station from the densely populated Ginowan City in Okinawa to a coastal region -- another issue that has sparked mass protests in Okinawa -- was reaffirmed, with the ministers concluding that the in the interests of strategic and financial concerns, it was the best way to move forward with the stalled process.
Analysts here said that prefectural officials in Okinawa as well as its citizens would likely see the moves towards easing their base-hosting burdens as somewhat feeble and foresee a substantial local backlash, particularly as the relocation of the Futenma base will likely cause irreversible environmental damage as a significant portion of the base will extend into land reclaimed from the sea.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed the meeting a success and remarked that the future alliance between the two countries would be a robust one, while Kerry said that the meeting was a productive step toward strengthening the alliance.
Kerry and Hagel earlier in the day paid their respects at the nationally recognized Chidori ga Fuchi cemetery, with pundits suggesting this was a calculated move aimed at dissuading Japanese politicians from visiting the controversial Yasukuni shrine, which enshrines 14 Class-A convicted war criminals and is an unabashed symbol of Japan's brutal colonial rule in Asia during WWII.
Kerry said in a statement Thursday that the discussions held would lay out the security relationship between the United States and Japan for this region for the next 15 or 20 years.
He said he believed this alliance, which he described as the " lynchpin" for the United States in the region, needed to be updated, adding that the bilateral alliance remains a "vital element" of our both countries' respective national security strategies.
Kerry noted that for more than 60 years Japan has been one of its closest allies and global partners and that Japan has been playing an increasingly visible and important role on a number of different global crises.