NEW YORK —
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe strongly defended the Japan-U.S. alliance in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Tuesday on its website.
“I cannot conceive of any situation within the foreseeable future when the U.S. presence wouldn’t be necessary,” he said in the interview with the U.S. newspaper conducted in Tokyo.
Abe made the comment when asked whether U.S. troops could pull out of Japan and leave the nation to defend itself—a possibility raised by Donald Trump, front-runner in the Republican presidential nomination race.
The premier also touched on the vital role to be played in beefing up the bilateral alliance by Tokyo’s new security laws that took effect last week, enabling its troops to fight overseas for the first time since World War II.
“By strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, we’ll strengthen deterrence and that will contribute to peace and stability in the region, not just Japan,” he was quoted as saying.
With an increasingly assertive China in mind, Abe said the summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations he will host in central Japan in late May “would be a forum to show leadership against actions displaying ‘naked nationalism’.”
Trump recently said he would be willing to withdraw U.S. troops from Japan and South Korea unless the two key U.S. allies in Asia paid more to cover the costs of housing and feeding U.S. troops stationed on their soil.
On the economic front, Abe said that the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have called a bad deal for the United States, will prove to be beneficial to all 12 participating countries.
“Through it, the U.S., Japan and the other countries participating in TPP will achieve great profit and gain chances for growth,” he said.
Japan, the United States and 10 other countries signed the TPP accord, covering 40 percent of the global economy, in February, after reaching broad agreement on the trade framework last October.
Abe also warned against “arbitrary intervention” in currency markets, a comment that eased wariness about the possibility of intervention by Japanese authorities and thus sent the yen to a 17-month high in the upper 109 yen range in New York at one point.
“Whatever the circumstances, we must definitely avoid competitive devaluation, and I think we should refrain from arbitrary intervention in currency markets,” he said.