TOKYO -- The U.S. needs to send a clear message that it will remain engaged in Asia, former Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats said Sunday, urging Congress to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
Hormats spoke at the Mount Fuji Dialogue, a gathering of influential American and Japanese figures in politics and business sponsored by the Japan Center for Economic Research and Japan Institute of International Affairs. Hormats served as under secretary for economic, energy and agricultural affairs beginning in 2009.
The TPP will promote political and security cooperation, making its benefits more than economic, he told the audience in the resort town of Karuizawa. Failing to ratify it would send the wrong signal -- namely, that America lacks the determination to play its role in Asia, he argued.
Gen. Richard Myers, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Japan's recently enacted national security laws could contribute to Asia's stability over the next half-century if they are implemented properly. The legislation gives the Self-Defense Forces a wider scope for supporting the U.S. and other allies.
Myers expressed hope that Japan could serve as a key partner in checking China's growing naval reach as well as moves by North Korea. But improvement is needed on the operations side, he added. A flawed implementation could let China's military buildup continue, raising tensions in Asia, the general said.