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Japan PM defends US military alliance in rebuff to Trump

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands after concluding a joint press conference at the latter's official residence in Tokyo on April 6, 2016.  / AFP PHOTO / POOL / KIMIMASA MAYAMA/POOL

Tokyo / AFP

US military bases remain essential to Japan’s security, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview on Wednesday, as he brushed off comments by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that Tokyo should be left to defend itself.
Japan’s alliance with Washington has been the bedrock of its defence since the end of World War II, and the country still hosts 47,000 US troops.
“I cannot conceive of any situation within the foreseeable future when the US presence wouldn’t be necessary,” Abe told The Wall Street Journal. Abe has vowed to boost Japan’s military but he sidestepped a question on whether Japan would play a bigger role in its own defence, saying Tokyo would strengthen its relationship with Washington.
“By strengthening the Japan-US alliance, we’ll strengthen deterrence and that will contribute to peace and stability in the region, not just Japan,” Abe said in the interview with the WSJ, conducted in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Abe also said he wanted to push through a huge trans-Pacific trade deal that has been attacked by both Democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
“This is the birth of an economic zone that has 40 percent of the world’s GDP, one that is protected by free and fair rules,’ Abe told the WSJ, referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive multi-nation deal of which Japan and the US are the key players.

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