Gates Warns Japan Not to Back Out of Troop Deal

Relationship with Asian ally increasingly strained
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2009 9:03 AM CDT
Robert Gates, right, and Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa listen to translation through earphones at a joint press conference in Tokyo, Japan, Oct. 21, 2009.   (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)
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(Newser) – All is not well between the US and Japan. Yesterday Robert Gates warned the country of serious consequences if it backs out of a troop movement deal the two countries spent 10 years negotiating. Japan’s new ruling party wants to reopen those negotiations, as it moves to redefine its relations with the US. Washington isn’t pleased, and State Department officials complain that the new party, which ended 50 years of one-party rule, lacks experience governing.

Last week, Japanese officials announced that the country would also stop refueling warships for coalition forces in Afghanistan. An annoyed Gates pointedly declined invitations to dine with Defense Ministry officials yesterday, and warned that backing out of the military deal would be “immensely complicated and counterproductive.” The deal was designed to deal with a rising China. But as one top State Department official tells the Washington Post, “the hardest thing right now is not China, it’s Japan.”