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Retaining The Japanese/American Security Alliance

Retaining The Japanese/American Security Alliance

 

CSC 1992

 

SUBJECT AREA National Security

 

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Title: Retaining the Japanese/American Security Alliance:

 

Author: Lieutenant Commander T.W. Roberts, US Navy

 

Thesis: For over forty years the United States has had a strong

military presence in Japan to promote US vital interests and to

ensure regional stability and security, but in view of current

Japanese and US economic and political changes, American

military presence in Japan is under great scrutiny and will

either be reduced, reorganized or cease to exist.

 

Background: The United States is under increasing political

pressure to remove all Japan based military forces in order to

save money and focus on domestic issues. In opposition, are

those who see a broader perspective, where forward basing in

Japan is just a part of a very complex economic, political and

security relationship which is critical and mutually beneficial

to both the United States and Japan. Japan gains monetarily,

politically and regionally from the alliance. The US is able

to obtain strategic, political and economic advantages. Before

any drastic alliance changes are made, both countries' policy

makers must have a real appreciation of the history, domestic

concerns, regional implications and security issues faced by

the US and Japan.

 

Recommendation: In light of "the new world era," changes and

restructuring of the US - Japanese security relationship can

and should be made, resulting in a trim tailored US force

remaining in Japan. But all proposals to retain US forces in

Japan will fail unless Japan and the US publicize and promote,

on their respective home fronts, this mutually beneficial

alliance, which is no longer based on a post-conquest

relationship, but a complementary alliance founded on an

equitable sharing of military cost burdens and

responsibilities.

 

 

RETAINING THE JAPANESE / AMERICAN SECURITY ALLIANCE

 

OUTLINE

 

Thesis: For over forty years the United States has had a

strong military presence in Japan to promote US vital

interests and to ensure regional stability and security, but

in view of current Japanese and US economic and political

changes, American military presence in Japan is under great

scrutiny and will either be reduced, reorganized or cease to exist.

 

I. Opposing American positions

A. Neo-isolationist

B. Neo-internationalist

 

II. Japanese perspective

A. History

B. JSDF structure and role

C. Political limitations

 

III. American perspective

A. Strategic advantages

B. Political benefits

 

IV. Solutions

A. Force restructuring

B. Japanese advantages

C. Mutual action

 

 

RETAINING THE JAPANESE / AMERICAN SECURITY ALLIANCE

 

Since the end of World War II, the US military has had a

 

permanent presence in Japan, first as an occupation and

 

democratization force, then as a protector, and now as an

 

ally. But "a new world order" is being established from the

 

ashes of the Cold War and the United States is debating its

 

future policy objectives in both Asia and Europe. Within this

 

context, should US military forces remain in Japan? And if so

 

how will they be structured and what role will they play in the

 

future?

 

During the last half of this century, Japan and the United

 

States have forged an alliance to ensure that Japan was and is

 

well-defended, while not presenting a threatening appearance to

 

its Asian neighbors. Initially, the United States military

 

forces alone protected Japan's security interests. In time the

 

Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) became a capable and viable

 

defensive military establishment, with US forces in Japan

 

focused on offensive operations and American power projection

 

issues. But now, in view of the enormous American trade

 

inbalance with Japan, an manageable domestic budget deficit,

 

and a splintered Soviet/Russian threat, the US military role in

 

Japan is being called into question by the American people.

 

In reaction to current East West events, two major

 

opposing US foreign policy platforms are being discussed and

 

promoted as military budgets are slashed and new military

 

strategies formed. First, we are seeing a return to US

 

traditional foreign policy roots by "neo-isolationists," who

 

are primarily concerned with the myriad of American domestic

 

problems from the drug war, to the stagnant economy, to the

 

downward trend in education. It is this faction's contention

 

that the US has been the world and specifically the Far East

 

arbitrator and "problem solver" for long enough and simply does

 

not have the economic resources nor the political motivation to

 

continue daily direct involvement in Asian security.

 

Gone are the times when Japan was an exclusively American

 

fiefdom ruled by a benevolent proconsul, General Douglas

 

MacArthur, bent on saving Japan from Communism. In fact, as a

 

result of the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement between the

 

United States of America and Japan of 1954, "Japan. . .has been

 

able to concentrate on economic development while enjoying the

 

advantages of United States political, diplomatic and military

 

support." (9: 149)

 

It is therefore time that American military men and women

 

deployed to Japan be brought home. After all, the Japanese are

 

out producing the US economically in many areas and our trade

 

deficit with them remains over 40 billion dollars a year. In

 

short, Japan can defend itself against a "reduced threat" and

 

US defense money saved can be used to offset the ever growing

 

US debt.

 

In opposition, is the "neo-internationalists"' position.

 

"Neo" because of the recent drastic changes in the world, but

 

"internationalist" because this group still sees the US playing

 

a modified but critical role in promoting US interests,

 

stability, and security concerns in selected areas in Asia. As

 

noted by ADM Crowe, "the United States is viewed in Asia as the

 

only nation that can be the key balancing or stabilizing force

 

in the region." (4: 124) Unless the United States is willing

 

to retreat to its pre-World War II economic, political and

 

military status, Americans must remain involved in

 

international issues, problems and crises.

 

In spite of US growing domestic deficits and overseas

 

trade imbalances, Americans still enjoy one of the highest

 

standards of living in the world, resulting primarily from a

 

strong and varied economy; a capable, worldwide military

 

presence; and an influential political element. If Americans

 

wish to retain this comfortable life-style, then the US must

 

not become focused solely on domestic issues at the expense of

 

international relationships, investments and obligations.

 

Unlike the past, today all issues, geopolitical, economic and

 

military, are interrelated and interdependent. Our geography

 

no longer "isolates" nor insulates the United States.

 

While much has changed in Eastern Europe, changes in the

 

Far East have been less dramatic, with many areas of concern

 

remaining. "Traditional rivalries among the nations of the

 

region may have been muted, but they have not disappeared."

 

(4: 124) Russian relations with China, Japan, North Korea and

 

South Korea are in limbo until its domestic and government

 

issues are resolved. North and South Korea remain volcanic

 

hotspots. China is a huge military and potential economic

 

power that continues to send mixed political signals. The

 

Philippines' instability and alienation from the US continues

 

amongst national disasters. While relations between two

 

countries are never problem free, since World War II Japan has

 

remained ironically the strong point for the United States in

 

Asia.

 

And there are innumerable reasons why Americans should

 

remain interested and involved in the Western Pacific:

 

US economy - almost 33% of US trade exports and 40% of US

 

imports go to and come from Asia, outpacing US trade with

 

Europe.

 

Regional stability - US acts as a check and balance ". . .

 

in the area of the world's fastest economic growth,

 

(where) defence spending is about to take off."

 

(1: 35)

 

US vital interests - the Pacific and Indian Ocean remain

 

the gateways to the Persian Gulf, through which 17% of the

 

world's oil passes. (3: 40)

 

Strategic significance - "US bases in Japan are critical

 

to providing strategic depth for the defense of South

 

Korea and for conducting US (military operations)

 

throughout the Pacific." (3: 38) Without this forward

 

basing, ". . .the US would not be a 'super-power' in terms

 

of war fighting capability in Korea or Southeast Asia

 

unless it had six months to a year of unchallenged

 

buildup time in a friendly state." (3: 37)

 

Even though the above "internationalist" arguments are quite

 

convincing, the pull of focusing on domestic issues alone is

 

very strong when so many critical problems exist. Many

 

Americans are simply not familiar with the complicated history

 

and ever changing dynamics of the US - Japan military alliance.

 

Since the end of World War II, the

 

US - Japan security relationship has endured as the dominant

factor in Japanese defense policy. Under this arrangement,

Japan provides forces for its immediate defense and permits the

United States to maintain troops in Japan to provide for

regional security." (5: vii)

 

 

Initially Japan totally depended on the United States to

 

finance, execute and protect Japan's security interests. As

 

part of the security package in 1951, the original Treaty of

 

Peace and Security was signed by the United States and Japan,

 

which granted the United States "the right to station troops in

 

Japan." (10: 7)

 

Today's Japanese military and security arrangements are

 

the direct consequence of the military excesses of World War

 

II, which have left an indelible mark on Japan's political

 

process and structure. "Japan is prohibited by the Peace

 

Constitution from maintaining armed forces and from dispatching

 

Japanese overseas." (5: vii) The way in which Japan has been

 

able to get around this constitutional prohibition, is to

 

establish the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF). The creation

 

of this military force, originally the National Police Reserve

 

(NPR), was encouraged by the United States at the onset of the

 

Korean War in 1950 when American troops stationed in Japan were

 

being sent to the war front. Since that time, JSDF has grown

 

into a capable tri-service military, focused on a defensive

 

warfare strategy, with US military forces stationed in Japan

 

assuming the offensive missions central to Japan's security.

 

In addition, under Japan's Constitution strict civilian

 

control is maintained over every aspect of the Japanese

 

military. Because of the extreme and horrifying results of

 

military control over government in World War II, Senior

 

military officers are not involved in any way in the government

 

policy making process, either as a cabinet or security council

 

(National Defense Council) member. The senior military

 

officer, the Chairman of the Joint Staff Council (JSC), can not

 

report directly to the Prime Minister or Emperor. Nor can a

 

military representative testify before the Diet or speak before

 

the political policy committees. All the restraints discussed

 

above have hampered the JSDF and in various ways and have

 

limited its capability. "However, the most important

 

ramification of the postwar alteration of the Japanese

 

political structure is the lack of military influences over

 

policy." (5: 14)

 

As a result of the countless restrictions, it has been

 

extremely difficult for the Japanese government to expand or

 

alter its military and its security alliances in any way. In

 

fact, "Japan is prohibited by the Peace Constitution from

 

maintaining offensive armed forces and from dispatching

 

Japanese overseas." (5: vii) The Japanese people are

 

understandably reticent to change this policy, based on their

 

World War II nightmare. So Japan has been able to gain great

 

political and practical advantage from having American military

 

forces stationed in country.

 

Military burden or cost sharing between the United States

 

and Japan has also been complicated. Each new agreement

 

through the years has stipulated which country will pay for

 

what. Each time Japan has been given a greater role in cost

 

sharing. As the Japanese monetary role grows, political costs

 

rise as well. With each reiteration, the issue of Japan's

 

military budget growth becomes more politically sensitive and

 

difficult to promote in Japan, partially as a result of the

 

lack of military interaction with policy makers.

 

Originally, in the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement of

 

1954,

 

it was stipulated that the United States of America . . . would

maintain certain of its armed forces in and about Japan as a

provisional arrangement in the expectation that Japan will

itself increasingly assume responsibility for its own defense

against direct and indirect aggression . . .contribute(ing) only

to the extent permitted by its general economic condition and

capacities. (8: 662)

 

 

Certainly Japan's economic condition has changed drastically

 

since that time. As a result, for many years, Japan has made a

 

large investment in its own Self Defense Forces and has made

 

significant contributions in support of US military bases in

 

Japan. In fact, "Tokyo's military budget is already, in

 

absolute financial terms, the third largest in the world."

 

(4: 135)

 

The Japan - US alliance is not a trouble free one for the

 

Japanese government. Even though US military bases in Japan

 

are generally supported and accepted by the Japanese government

 

and people, there are pockets of "antimilitary radicals and

 

local residents concerned about anti-imperialism, public safety

 

and environmental issues." (5: 18) Many of these radical

 

groups feel that the Japanese government should disband any and

 

all of its own military forces and should compel all American

 

forces to leave. These Japanese groups bring their issues into

 

the public arena on a regular basis through demonstrations,

 

base incursions and even terrorist style violence. Obviously,

 

the US - Japan alliance from the Japanese perspective is

 

worthwhile, but it is not easy to foster and maintain.

 

But how can the continued basing of forces to Japan

 

contribute to the United States military strategies of the

 

future? First is time. As we have seen with the Persian Gulf

 

crisis, naval ships can arrive 2-3 weeks earlier in the Middle

 

East than forces stationed on the East or West coast of the US

 

In a crisis, every day can make a difference. The primary

 

military reason for deploying forces forward is to reduce the

 

time required to respond to enemy actions.

 

Second is environment. Nothing can duplicate training,

 

operating and maintaining in the ocean, climate and airspace in

 

which we may fight. Having forces in place should increase

 

their readiness for employment and facilitate their training in

 

a realistic environment. Further, the availability of in-place

 

maintenance facilities and logistics depots can be of

 

inestimable value. Third is regular interoperability with

 

American Allies in the Far East. Wars of the future will be

 

fought primarily by coalitions as was seen in World War II,

 

Korea and the Persian Gulf.

 

In order to be prepared to wage war as a team, countries

 

must practice and train as one, developing common means of

 

communication, sharing intelligence and conducting

 

complementary operations. Policy makers must also remember

 

that "With respect to basing arrangements in particular, it is

 

only realistic to recognize that what America takes out, it

 

will not be able to put back, except possibly in times of

 

crisis." (4: 131)

 

From the US perspective, to turn back in time to the

 

foreign policy flavor of the 1920's and 1930's would be to

 

repeat the same mistakes America Firsters' made at that time,

 

only worse. Today's world is less forgiving and the economic

 

and political stakes are higher. While it is tempting to

 

concentrate on the US economy at the expense of a working

 

military cooperation with Japan, chances are the economic

 

issues are part and parcel of a strong military alliance.

 

In light of all this, it is obvious that the health of the

relationship between Japan and America depends primarily

on the successful management of economic competition and

on finding a formula for burden sharing in security

matters that has the support of both the Japanese and the

American people." (9: 150)

 

 

"Neo-isolationists" must broaden their perspective and see

 

the interdependence which exists between the US and Japan. US

 

withdrawal from Japan is a short term defense budget cut, but a

 

long term loss across the board. US military forces should

 

remain in Japan as a part of an overall American political,

 

economic and military strategy for its future security and

 

success. However, change's, reductions and restructuring will

 

have to be made in the American forward basing posture in Japan

 

due to US economic realities. "A restructured but assured

 

presence in Asia and the Pacific, undergirded by a stronger

 

financial and economic base, will serve everyone well for many

 

years to come." (4: 140)

 

But before any reductions are made, it is critical that

 

the US government keep in mind that,

 

Only six percent of US forces are forward deployed in

the Asian-Pacific theater, and only 16 percent are

"dedicated" to the region. Given the space they are

responsible for, they should not be proportionately

reduced along with other cuts around the world. Indeed,

with the political evolution in Europe, there is no need

for such proportionality. (4: 131)

 

 

While some limited US military reductions and

 

consolidations can be done, current US force structure is not

 

extensive.

 

From a naval standpoint, the retention of a permanently

deployed CVBG is paramount. Vokosuka, with its developed

facilities and location next to the Commander-in-Chief

JSDF Fleet remains an ideal homeport. U.S. amphibious

forces located in Okinawa positions them forward to

better respond to breaking crises throughout South Asia.

Deployment of U.S. VP aircraft to bases in Japan fosters

close interaction between the services and should

continue. US squadrons (could) be co-located with

counterpart JMSDF squadrons to enhance interoperability

and facilitate joint operations. (19: 2)

 

 

Whatever choices are made, restructuring of US forces should be

 

measured against mutual benefits and costs and not carried out

 

by blindly slashing of programs and bases which have taken

 

decades to build and cannot be replaced. As the US system

 

would have it, the force reduction or withdrawal decisions will

 

be made by policy makers or budgeteers unfamiliar with the

 

Japanese - American security goals. Already substantial force

 

reductions are haphazardly taking place, with no overall design

 

in mind for future capabilities or contingencies.

 

Throughout the reduction and restructuring process, both

 

nations must remember that the US and Japanese security

 

alliance is a mutually beneficial relationship. For the United

 

States, forward basing in Japan means that American forces can

 

operate and train in vital areas of interest throughout the

 

Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and even the Persian Gulf. In

 

addition, the United States can monitor military activity and

 

be ready to provide support to Americans in such areas as South

 

Korea, Peoples Republic of China, Philippines and Sri Lanka.

 

The U.S. is also interested in maintaining stability in

 

NorthWest Asia, which would feel threatened by an offensively

 

armed and unchecked Japan. With current cost sharing

 

arrangements,

 

It is actually cheaper to homeport a US Naval Battle

Group in Japan than it is in the U.S. With the closure of

U.S. bases in the Philippines, it provides shipyard

services and a forward staging area for our forces. It

promotes interaction on all aspects of military from

procedures to hardware procurement. This gains

importance as U.S. defense expenditures decrease, forces

are reduced and more reliance is placed on our allies.

It assists the U.S. in exercising influence on Japanese

foreign policy. It symbolizes the continuing close

relationship between the two countries and seems to

weather strained relations in other areas. (19: 3)

 

 

Japan benefits from the US military presence in several

 

ways. Monetarily, Japan apportions only one percent of its GNP

 

to defense, as opposed to the United States' seven percent. As

 

a direct result of US forces stationed in Japan, huge cost

 

savings are realized by the Japanese people who can then

 

maintain a significantly reduced standing military. The

 

American military presence is a force multiplier with fewer

 

political costs and sensitivities than a strong and independent

 

Japanese military.

 

There are also political advantages for the Japanese

 

government, who can maintain a lower domestic defense budget

 

and regional military profile while retaining substantial

 

advantages under the American nuclear umbrella. The fact is

 

". . .no nation in Asia will welcome Japanese forces of any kind

 

unless it is clear that a US-Japanese partnership ensures that

 

Japan will not dominate the region." (3: 38) "US-Japan

 

security ties add credibility, particularly in the eyes of

 

Asian countries, to Japan's policy of not becoming a big

 

military power." (12: 33)

 

Critical to any progress is that both countries realize

 

and focus on the long-term advantages of their alliance, as

 

opposed to the short-term domestic political boost that would

 

result from the dissolution of their security relationship.

 

Only then can Japan and the United States continue to dedicate

 

their respective militaries to the integration and

 

interoperability of their forces across the spectrum.

 

Interoperability programs have been successfully

 

established in several areas to include, Air Defense, Submarine

 

and Anti-submarine Warfare and Combat Air Patrol. Many formal

 

and informal information exchange programs have been

 

established where both sides share methodologies, technologies

 

and tactics. But these interoperability programs and

 

information exchange's must be broadened to include every aspect

 

of their combined operational forces. Such interoperability

 

will act as a force multiplier to both Japan and the United

 

States, allowing each to protect its respective vital interests

 

at a lower political, economic and military cost.

 

Actually, the monetary costs to the US drop daily. No

 

longer does the US bear the brunt of the military burden.

 

Since January 14, 1991, when Japan and the United States

 

signed the new host nation support agreement, Japan assumed

 

100% of all Japanese utility and labor costs incurred by

US forces in Japan. Under the new agreement, Japan's

burden-sharing expenditures will rise to around $4.7

billion. This will be about 73% of all costs for keeping

US forces in Japan, and will make it much cheaper to keep

US forces in Japan than to bring them home. (3: 38)

 

 

As long as Japan continues to assume a majority of the

 

financial burden, the United States can afford to retain select

 

forward deployed forces in Japan. The United States will

 

continue to pay for the military hardware, maintenance and

 

personnel costs, which are expenses the US would incur whether

 

the forces are stationed stateside or overseas.

 

A tailored, but strong US military presence in Japan does

 

not only affect the US and Japan, it greatly influences the

 

Asian region as a whole. Need we forget that most ASEAN

 

leaders want the US to remain a central security minder for the

 

region and are wary of jettisoning existing military

 

co-operation ties. (11: 15) In addition,

 

Japan's history of conquest and brutal rule in Northeast

Asia has left an indelible mark on both China and Korea:

that of mistrust. China's fanatic and undying Communist

ideology and political structure has looming negative

implications. And South Korea's continued separation

from and tension with North Korea dictates an uncertain

future. (2: 31)

 

 

This region is also seething with military might.

 

Excluding the US and Russia, ". . .of the world's eight largest

 

military powers, five are in the Asia Pacific area - China,

 

North and South Korea, Japan and India." (15: 31) And few

 

nations in the Orient feel secure in the post Cold War era,

 

instead the new climate is filled with political, economic and

 

security unknowns. As a result, ". . .members of ASEAN show

 

defense budget increases during the past three years ranging

 

from 8% in Malaysia to perhaps 40% in Singapore. (16: 30)

 

While some are apprehensive of US involvement, most countries

 

in the region see a continued US military presence as the key

 

element which can prevent a dangerous turn in the current arms

 

race amongst Asian nations. (12: 33)

 

And a stable thriving Orient not only benefits that

 

region, it is greatly advantageous to the US economy as well.

 

To be sure, there are vital domestic concerns that must be

addressed to make the US competitive in (the

international) marketplace. However, to achieve the

necessary growth in our economy means expansion of our

share of international trade (export's vice imports), a

goal that will not be met without a combination of

military presence to ensure regional stability and

vigorous diplomacy to open those markets to US industry.

(14: 7-8)

 

 

But all of these proposals are merely stardust unless

 

Japan and the US publicize and promote, on their respective

 

home fronts, this mutually beneficial alliance, which is no

 

longer based on a post-conquest relationship, but a

 

complementary alliance founded on an equitable sharing of

 

military cost burdens and responsibilities. Unfortunately,

 

political motives and domestic concerns on each side jeopardize

 

the alliance. Perhaps if the monetary, military and political

 

realities were made public - the public would support the

 

continuance of this security relationship and retain in office

 

the politicians who are working to preserve it.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

1. Ball, Desmond. "Asian Defence Spending Set for Dramatic

Rise." Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter September 1991.

 

2. Bean, R. Mark, COL. Cooperative Security in Northeast

Asia. Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press

Publication's, 1990.

 

3. Cordesman, Anthony, H. "America's Options in Asia:

Partnership or Retreat." Armed Forces Journal International

February 1992.

 

4. Crowe, William, J. Jr. and Romberg, Alan D. "Rethinking

Pacific Security." Foreign Affairs Spring 1991.

 

5. "Evolution of the Japanese Military System." Defense

Intelligence Report. DDB-2680-91-80 May 1980.

 

6. Krauthammer, Charles. "The Unipolar Moment." Foreign

Affairs America and the World 1990/91.

 

7. Manegold, Catherine, S. "The Military Question: Is it Time

for Japan to Have a bigger Army?." Newsweek November 25, 1991.

 

8. "Mutual Defense Assistance Aggreement Between the United

States of America and Japan." U.S. Treaties and Other International

Agreements TIAS 2957 Mar. 8, 1954.

 

9. Nacht, Michael. "The United States and Japan: Building a

New Relationship." Current History April, 1991.

 

10. Reed, Robert F. "The US-Japan Alliance: Sharing the Burden

of Defense." National Security Affairs Monograph Series 83-7 1983.

 

11. Richardson, Michael. "US Plans for Pacific Partnership."

Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter June 1991.

 

12. Richardson, Michael. "Regional Security: Mixed Views on

Pax Americana." Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter September 1991.

 

13. Robinson, Gwen. "Regional Security: Japan Paves the Way

for Broader Role." Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter September 1991

 

14. "Structuring U.S. Naval Forces in the 'New' World Order."

The Center for International Affairs Harvard University January 1992.

 

15. Warner, Denis. "Regional Security: The First Step." Asia-

Pacific Defence Reporter September 1991.

 

16. Young, P. Lewis. "Southeast Asian Nations See No Sign of

'Peace Dividend'." Armed Forces Journal International February 1992.

 

 

Written Interviews February 1992:

 

17. Commander/JMSDF - Inoue, Yoshinori. Intelligence Officer

for Airwing and Subron.

 

18. Captain/US Navy - Intelligence Officer CINCPACFLT.

 

19. Captain/US Navy - Commanding Officer Pacific Region Intel-

igence Center.

 

20. Captain/US Navy - Intelligence Officer CINCPACFLT.

 

21. Captain/US Navy - Former Commodore of U.S. Naval Airwing

in Japan.

 

22. Captain/US Navy - Former Commodore of U.S. Naval Airwing

in Japan.

 

23. Captain/US Navy - Former Intelligence Officer for

COMSEVENTHFLT.

 

24. Colonel/US Marine Corps - Former USMC 4th Marines

Regimental Commander and G-3 for III MEF, Okinawa, Japan.

 

25. Colonel/US Marine Corps - Commanding Officer MWSS

Okinawa, Japan.

 

26. Colonel/US Marine Corps - Chief of Staff/ Operations Officer

4th MEB.

 



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