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Adm. Blair reflects on post-Sept. 11 changes, lauds strength of U.S.-Japan ties
By Joseph Giordono, Yokosuka bureau chief
Pacific edition, Wednesday, February 6, 2002

TOKYO - President Bush's State of the Union warning to North Korea and the
"axis of evil" shows just how much the world situation has changed since Sept.
11, the top American military commander in the Pacific said Monday.

"We have to deal with and accept the military-first policy that is reflected in
many things that North Korea does," said Adm. Dennis C. Blair, commander in chief,
U.S. Pacific Command. "President Bush's statement is letting people know that
the rules have changed. We have seen the sort of ruthless attacks that can be made against
the United States, and we intend to proceed against them in a new manner."

Blair is on an unofficial farewell tour of Asian nations, including Japan, Malaysia,
Singapore and South Korea; he retires in about three months. Blair spoke Monday to the
Japanese National Press Club and, later, to American reporters at the U.S. Embassy.

He also said the U.S. mission training Philippine troops in anti-terrorism and helping
them hunt down suspected terrorists will not become a long-term deployment.

Though he spent a considerable amount of time discussing North Korea and the
Philippines, Blair also praised the strong U.S.-Japan military relationship. Serious
incidents like the sinking of a Japanese fishing vessel by a U.S. submarine challenged but
strengthened the alliance, he said.

He also defended the U.S. military presence on Okinawa, but said further changes need
to be made.

"Artillery training has been moved off of Okinawa. Training for parachute
operations has moved away from the southern part of Okinawa to a small island up in the
north," he said.

"Base politics is local in virtually every country in the world, whether it's
in the United States, Okinawa or Korea. When I land at MCAS Futenma, and I'm coming
right in over a densely populated city and then popping down onto a Marine Corps base,
that doesn't seem right to me. We ought to move it toward Nago."

Blair also praised Japan's decision to send Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force
ships to the Arabian Sea to support Operation Enduring Freedom. Japanese ships have
provided intelligence support and more than $60 million in fuel to U.S. forces.

The United States and Japan will have a strong military relationship for many years, he
said. And the U.S. military should have a carrier presence in Japan long after the Kitty
Hawk is decommissioned in 2008, he said.

"Yokosuka is the right place for a carrier to be and I'm sure we will work
with Japan when the time comes," he said.

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