Japanese government eager to learn Mattis' views on country
The Japanese government is hastening to gather information on retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, whom U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen as the next secretary of defense. Mattis is said to have had hardly any contact with Japan and his stance toward Japan is unknown.
In Japan, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada told reporters on Friday that she intends to build a good relationship with the United States "regardless of who [the next U.S. secretary of defense] is" by helping the new secretary to "fully recognize the importance of our ties." Inada was inspecting the Air Self-Defense Force's Gifu Air Base on the day.
According to government sources, Mattis likely did a stint in Okinawa for training during his career in the marines, but his views on Japan-U.S. relations are not known. The government is striving to gather Mattis' remarks on the Asian-Pacific region and other matters.
Trump floated the idea of withdrawing U.S. forces stationed in Japan and reviewing the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty during his presidential election campaign. Trump also repeatedly called on allies, including Japan, to contribute more to the cost of hosting U.S. forces.
However, some in the Japanese government hope that Mattis may not push forward with these policies. "Coming from the marine corps, he should recognize the importance of U.S. forces in Japan and the U.S.-Japan alliance," a government source said.
A senior official of the Defense Ministry said: "The top brass of the U.S. forces has always valued the U.S.-Japan alliance. I don't think [Mattis] is going to propose a reduction of U.S. bases in Japan."