Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said today he hoped his current Asian tour has allayed fears that the United States is encouraging a Japanese military resurgence. In fact, he charged, Japan still is not doing enough to bolster its own defense forces.
Weinberger made the remarks during a three-hour stopover here after meeting Indonesian President Suharto and Defense Minister Mohammad Yusuf.
Accompanied by his wife and several aides, he then flew to the resort island of Bali for what a U.S. official said was some "R and R" before traveling on to Australia Thursday.
Weinberger has already visited Singapore and Thailand as part of an 11-day, five-nation tour that will also include New Zealand. Officials said the tour was aimed at assuring U.S. allies and friends in Asia and the Pacific of Washington's commitment to the region's security and at exploring ways to counter a growing Soviet military presence.
The visit also has highlighted a debate over how Southeast Asia's noncommunist nations should approach security questions of common concern to them.
Despite calls for increased military cooperation and a stated aim of promoting "regional peace and stability," the five members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines -- have been at pains to avoid the appearance of a military alliance.
Weinberger told reporters at a brief news conference before flying onto Bali that ASEAN members already were devoting enough of their gross national products to defense and that he had not "found it necessary to urge any greater attention to security matters" among them.
He said there was no basis for fears -- expressed recently by Suharto and Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos during their recent U.S. visits--that Japanese rearmament would go beyond purposes of self-defense.
"Our concern primarily is that Japan will have to do a very great deal more than they are now doing to fulfill this entirely self-defensive role," Weinberger said. He added that "thus far there hasn't been enough effort" on Japan's part.
"We don't discount the depth of the feeling" against the prospect of renewed Japanese militarism, Weinberger said. But he stressed that Japan had no militaristic or offensive designs.
Weinberger said the Soviet Union had strengthened its Naval and Air Forces in the region, with increased military overflights and intelligence-gathering efforts.
He cited the expulsions of alleged Soviet intelligence agents in the past year from Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
In February authorities arrested an Indonesian officer, Lt. Col. Susdaryanto, on charges of providing the Soviets with information that could help their submarines pass undetected through Indonesian straits between the Pacific and Indian oceans.
Indonesian officials said Susdaryanto, a maritime cartographer at Jakarta's Tanjung Priok Naval Base, supplied details of four years of hydrographic research undertaken jointly by the U.S. Navy and Indonesia.
The arrest led to the expulsion of a Soviet military attache, the departure of another Soviet diplomat and the arrest and subsequent expulsion of the manager of the Aeroflot Airline office here following a brawl at Jakarta's airport.
A few days later, Singapore expelled two Soviet officials accused of espionage. The government said one, a diplomat, had posed as a Swedish journalist to obtain military secrets from a Singaporean officer and the other, a shipyard superintendent, had been caught trying to recruit agents.
Last year, Malaysia expelled Soviet diplomats accused of bribing the political secretary of Deputy Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed, who later became prime minister.
The three countries are considered an important target for Soviet espionage because they straddle the vital straits between the Indian and Pacific oceans. The region has seen a steady growth of superpower rivalry since the late 1960s between the Soviet Pacific Fleet and the U.S. 7th Fleet.
At his news conference, Weinberger said the Soviets "have increased their presence in Vietnam," but he gave no figures. "They are using Cam Ranh Bay on a very large scale as well as other bases in Vietnam, and they have added a number of ships to their presence in the Asian and Pacific regions, especially the North Pacific," he said.
The Soviet Pacific fleet now is reported to deploy 80 surface combat ships, 300 fighter aircraft and 120 attack submarines.
ASEAN members have expressed concern about the Soviet presence but so far have shied away from any collective security arrangement.
Although bilateral military exercises among ASEAN countries have become commonplace, a recent suggestion by Singapore's prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, that military cooperation be expanded within ASEAN caused some embarrassment in the other capitals.
Among others, Thailand disowned the idea as making ASEAN look too much like "a military pact."