TOKYO, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos says the uncertainty of North Korea's leadership is a key reason why U.S. military troops must remain in Japan.
North Korea has threatened to develop nuclear weapons and leader Kim Jong II reportedly is in poor health and depending on his son, Kim Jong Un, to govern, Roos said Friday in a speech at Waseda University in Tokyo.
"A North Korea that falls into internal disarray would pose monumental security challenges to this region," Roos said.
Roos also suggested the U.S. military presence was a guard against China and its "well-funded military modernization."
"The forward deployment of U.S. forces puts us in a position to react immediately to emerging threats and serves as a tangible symbol of our commitment," Roos said.
Japan-U.S. relations have been strained in recent years over the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan, Okinawa, to Camp Schwab in Okinawa. Anti-military groups want the U.S. military removed from Japan altogether, The Japan Times reported Saturday.