Asia Needs U.S. Military Presence In Japan: Lee Kuan Yew

Friday, May 21, 2010

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Closing American military bases in Okinawa would limit the ability of the U.S. to project power in Asia and do no good for the region, Singapore's founding father said Thursday on the first day of Nikkei Inc.'s 16th International Conference on the Future of Asia.

In a dialogue with Shunji Yanai, a former Japanese ambassador to the U.S., Singaporean Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said he hoped for a quick resolution to the Futenma base relocation issue.

The Chinese military buildup is aimed at achieving parity with the U.S. and securing sea lanes for shipments of crude oil and other natural resources, Lee argued. The U.S. needs China's cooperation in dealing with Iran and other international issues, while China needs access to American markets and technology, he said, predicting 30-40 years of friendly relations between the two countries.

Lee expressed interest in Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's proposal for an East Asian community. An economic balance in the region is just as important as a military one, he said. He called for a broad community that includes not only the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan, China, and South Korea, but also India, Australia and others.

ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said in a speech that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is paying greater attention to Asia than its predecessor, which tended toward unilateralism. American involvement in Asia is necessary, Surin argued, but he looked forward to a cooperative rather than one-way relationship.

Participants in a panel discussion on the potential of an Asian Green New Deal called for public-private cooperation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency.

(The Nikkei May 21 morning edition)

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.