The announcement comes within a week of Japan stating that it would "look to Asia as a new frontier of economic growth," (see Dec. 29 NY Times article). The tougher talk is another indicator of a shift in balance trending towards increased willingness of East Asian countries to "stand up" to the West.
The AFP reports:
TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama pledged on Monday to pursue more equal relations with the United States as Tokyo seeks to defuse a row with its close ally over where to move an American military base.
"I want to create ties in which we can enhance our relations of trust by telling each other what each of us should say clearly," he said in a televised new year address.
"It's important to show that Japan and the United States are in a relationship in which we need each other."
Japan should avoid a situation where "we just give up what we want to say only because it's difficult, or where one simply obeys the other", he said.
Soon after coming to power in September, Hatoyama's government provoked irritation in Washington by announcing a review of a 2006 agreement to move a US air base from an urban area to a coastal region on the island of Okinawa.
Tokyo is currently considering alternative sites for the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station, but Washington has repeatedly called for Tokyo to stick to the 2006 deal, which is opposed by local residents.