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Minister Ishiba Meets with Secretary Rice

Defense Minister Ishiba and U.S. Secretary of State Rice
Defense Minister Ishiba and U.S. Secretary of State Rice

On February 27 Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba had a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for approximately 50 minutes. The two exchanged opinions on issues concerning the Japan-U.S. alliance, including the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, the fight against terrorism, and missile defense; their talks also touched on the alleged rape of a middle school girl in Okinawa by a U.S. serviceman.
    On the subject of the realignment of U.S. forces, Minister Ishiba stated: "It is important to continue the process uninterruptedly. In particular,since this realignment of U.S. forces has two objectives, aiming both to maintain deterrence and to reduce the burdens of local communities, Japan and the United States need to keep shared awareness at the political level." In reply, Secretary Rice noted that she believes great progress has been achieved over the past seven years in strengthening the bilateral alliance and that the realignment of U.S. forces is an extremely important project; she said she appreciated Minister Ishiba’s commitment.
    On missile defense, Secretary Rice expressed thanks for Japan’s cooperation. Minister Ishiba replied that he observed that Japan-U.S. cooperation in this area has become effective and that Japan is prepared to play its role henceforth as well.