Japan, US closer in step (Hisane Masaki, 10/29/05, Asia Times)

Japan and the United States on Saturday will sign an historic mutual-security agreement that, among other provisions, will allow for the first time an American nuclear-powered navy vessel to be based in a Japanese port.

The deal, which will be signed in Washington during a meeting of the two countries’ defense and foreign ministers, will also include a strategy for overall realignment of US forces in Japan.

Earlier in the week, Tokyo and Washington struck a deal on the long-running dispute over the relocation of a key American air station in the southern Japanese island state of Okinawa, removing the biggest obstacle to the realignment agreement.

About to make the normal pedantic comment about the new Axis of Good being more important than NATO, the thought occurred: When’s the last time you even heard NATO mentioned?

The central alliance of the 20th Century is now an afterthought.

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