Media Availability at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo

Press Availability
Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Tokyo, Japan
May 22, 2011

Also Available in Chinese

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: First of all, thank you all for coming on a Sunday. I apologize for the inconvenience, though it is wonderful to be back in Japan for consultations with our close partners. I think we focused our discussions today and over the course of the last several weeks on three overarching areas.

Number one, I bring with me the strong commitment of the U.S. government and frankly the people of the United States to ensure that we are, and we will continue to be, deeply engaged in every effort of the recovery from the tragedy that struck Japan two months ago. Not only were we involved in the early, initial stages of the humanitarian crisis, we will continue to be involved in many important endeavors associated with the recovery – both our nuclear experts, our business groups, our technical experts, humanitarian support – everything that we can do to make clear our commitment going forward. I think we recognize that this is not a short-term crisis. This is going to be something that will require strong commitment on the part of the United States to support Japan, to support the Japanese government, for months and years ahead. And so we are trying to work on a multifaceted approach with the American business community, again with our expert community, and our U.S. forces stationed here in the Asia-Pacific region, to support that overall endeavor.

Number two, in our consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, and the Prime Minister’s Office, we made very clear both of our intentions – of the U.S. and the Japanese governments – to proceed ahead with the current plans, both the 2006 Joint Declaration, the overall FRF plan, and the May 28th Joint Statement. Those are the key guiding documents for how we want to undertake the modernization of our Alliance going forward. In addition, we will be working on a variety of other elements in terms of military modernization, and some of those will be described and detailed at the upcoming 2+2, date to be determined, exactly.

Number three, third area, we have continued to make the point to our Japanese friends that we count on Japan to continue its strong engagement in global politics. Obviously, the enormous challenges domestically will require extra efforts on the part of the Japanese government and the Japanese people. But given the enormous challenges in Northeast Asia; the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula; our dual efforts to engage China and to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait; our joint efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan; and dealing directly with the challenge of modern-day piracy – these are all things which demand close coordination of the United States and Japan. And frankly, the United States depends on Japan’s active engagement in global politics. And so you will hear us continually calling for a continued Japanese engagement in these critical endeavors going forward.

We also talked with our Japanese colleagues about upcoming important international events. The United States and Japan are coordinating closely for our engagement at the ASEAN Regional Forum that will take place in Bali. We also talked about our joint approaches at APEC in Hawaii, and ultimately about the U.S. decision to join and to be accepted to join the East Asia Summit, which will also be taking place in Indonesia, going forward. In addition to the bilateral engagements between the United States and Japan, we are also planning a number of trilateral encounters: between the United States, Japan, and South Korea; the United States, Japan, and Australia; fledgling effort between the United States, Japan, and India; and other endeavors as well.

These were very productive discussions and I will be back in Japan in a couple of weeks to continue our preparations for upcoming high-level meetings. I think, as you all know, Prime Minister Kan and President Obama will be meeting in France next week, obviously important business to do. I can take a couple of questions, and again I want to apologize for bringing people out on a Sunday. I’m very grateful that you could take a few minutes with me today.

QUESTION: Have you discussed a date that Prime Minister Kan is going to visit Washington?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think we are still working on the dates for various high-level meetings, and I know that these are important to both of our governments, and I expect that we’ll be making progress on these in due course.

QUESTION: Who did you meet today, exactly?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Well, my primary counterpart at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is Mr. Umemoto, a close friend of many years. In the Department of Defense, Mr. Takamizawa. Each of them brought their teams with them. I also, in the morning, had a chance to meet with Sengoku-san from the Prime Minister’s Office.

QUESTION: Do you have any kind of information about Kim Jong Il’s visit to China?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I really don’t. I have nothing to comment on there. Obviously we value China’s role in terms of engaging North Korea, and we ask them to take a very clear stand on encouraging North Korea to engage responsibly with South Korea and also with the international community. But I have no particular comment on that matter, and I’d refer you directly to China.

QUESTION: Why do you think he made the trip to China (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I’m just saying, I have no comment about it, I have no details about it, and I’d refer you directly to China for further details or discussion of that matter.

QUESTION: Regarding to the replacement of the Futenma base, Defense Minister Kitazawa said it’s going to be difficult to complete it by 2014. What’s your view on that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think I’ll just stand by the statement I made in terms of what our overarching framework is, and our strong commitment. Some of the issues that you’ve described, on timing and details, will be taken up by the ministers in the 2+2.

QUESTION: About the next 2+2 meeting, can we expect that it will occur sometime by the end of June?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think we both, both governments understand the importance of these high-level engagements, and we made no announcement yet on timing for a 2+2. But we are making, at the working level, urgent preparations, or important preparations for that upcoming meeting at some point.

OK? I’ll take one last question, thanks.

QUESTION: During your last visit to Okinawa, 2004 December, you said it’s time to think about relocation of Marine Corps outside Okinawa. When did you change your idea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I don’t know the exact context of that comment. I do know that for the period of time that I’ve worked on Okinawa, I think it’s extraordinarily important for the United States and Japan to take steps to ease the burden on the people of Okinawa – both in terms of operations and in terms of bases. And I think we have done that, and we’d like to do more. And I believe that a responsible partnership between the United States and Japan must take into account the situation in Okinawa.

OK. Thank you very much.