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NEWS UPDATES 21 May 2010

Singapore’s top leader says US presence crucial in Asia

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US military presence remains crucial to the balance of power in Asia, the Channel News Asia quoted Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew as saying.

East Asian security still needs the presence of American forces, so the region can continue its economic growth and balance the emergence of China, a country that is also important for this balance as there is no one country that should dominate Asia.

This was the message from Mr Lee at the 16th annual Nikkei Future of Asia Symposium in Tokyo.

Mr Lee also stressed the need to keep the US bases in Japan. Japan is in the midst of deciding where to relocate the US forces now based in Okinawa, and Mr Lee emphasized that US bases in Japan are necessary to maintain the balance of power in Asia.

Mr Lee said: "We believe that their presence brings about stability and peace. They need a base in the northeast, and if there is no base in Japan, they can't deploy their weaponry and project their power. If Japan closes them off from Okinawa, I think it will be a setback for the deployment of the American forces, which is not to the benefit of Asia."

Minister Mentor Lee also emphasized that Japan might take the Singaporean model to face the problem of an aging population, by opening up immigration and allowing immigrants' integration into the society without compromising local values.


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