Myers Begins Four-Nation Swing in Japan

By Jim Garamone

TOKYO, Jan. 11, 2004 – Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers arrived in Japan today on the first leg of a nine-day, four-country trip.

Visits will include China, where the chairman will continue constructive military-to-military contacts. He will also journey to Mongolia and Australia.

In talks with Japanese military and defense leaders, Myers will thank Japanese allies for their support in the global war on terrorism and for sending personnel and money to help rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. He will also consult with Japanese leaders about their participation in missile-defense efforts. Myers, who once commanded U.S. Forces Japan, is familiar with the country and was looking forward to renewing old acquaintances and making new ones, officials said.

In China, the chairman will continue the process of engagement with Asia’s fastest-growing economy. He will seek to expand military-to-military relations to new areas and to lower levels. Senior defense officials said the general will build on work the U.S. Pacific Command has started.

Officials said he will likely discuss North Korea, Taiwan and other matters of concern between the two countries.

Myers will be the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to visit Mongolia. He will thank the Mongolians for their contribution to Operation Iraqi Freedom. The country has a peacekeeping company in the Multinational Division Central/South based in Hillah.

In Australia, he will consult with senior military and defense leaders, and thank them for their support to date. Australia, a stalwart in the global war on terrorism, suffered its own September 11th-like tragedy in the October 2002 bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali. That incident claimed many Australians among the more than 500 killed and injured.

Officials said it was important for the chairman to visit the nation because the United States "does not want Australia to think we take them for granted."