Remarks to Media in Tokyo

Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Prime Minister's Residence (Kantei)
Tokyo, Japan
October 6, 2011

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: First of all, good evening to all of you, and I’m sorry to keep you waiting this evening. It’s wonderful to be back in Japan, and particularly to be with our excellent country team here, led extraordinarily ably by Ambassador Roos. We’ve had a series of very good meetings today. We were able to follow up, I think, on the momentum established when the new Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister visited New York last month.

I want to apologize again; I made a mistake at the airport in Washington. (Laughter) I inadvertently misspoke. I obviously was meaning to say that the Foreign Minister has been invited to Washington by Secretary Clinton. That’s the appropriate way. Any further invitations are handled, obviously, by the White House. In addition to that, we’ve also invited some of our key players here at the Kantei and also in the Foreign Ministry to also visit Washington, given the extraordinarily consequential period ahead: the East Asia Summit, APEC, and also follow-on meetings.

I think it would be fair to say that we talked about the full range of issues in U.S.-Japan relations: our global alignments and cooperation in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in the Middle East, also about regional developments. We talked about North Korea. We talked about our strong desire to engage, cooperatively, China. And we also talked about a range of bilateral issues. We underscored that, obviously, many of the issues that we have to work on are challenging. They are challenging domestically. I think both sides – the United States and Japan – recognize that right now, we need to find some things that give our Alliance forward momentum, and give us a sense of deep cooperation given the challenges in the Asia-Pacific region. Obviously we talked about TPP in this context, and I updated our Japanese interlocutors on progress that we’ve made in our own negotiations. We also talked about the issues associated with our military alliance, including Futenma. Obviously, the new Secretary of Defense will be visiting Japan later this month and he’ll have more discussions at that time.

I just want to say that these were among the best discussions I’ve had in a long time, and I think it gives us both hope and confidence about what we want to accomplish in the time ahead, and I look forward to continuing discussions this evening and then tomorrow. I can take a couple of very quick questions, then I’ll need to leave.

QUESTION: Did you discuss anything about North Korea and the Six-Party Talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Yes, we did. We talked a little bit about the recent meeting that has taken place between the North and the South in China. We underscored to our Japanese interlocutors that no decision has yet been made on any follow-on meetings, but we promised to stay in very close touch in respect to our mutual strategies in relation to North Korea.

QUESTION: What did you talk about the Futenma issue?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think we talked about it just in general terms. We reiterated the message that the two leaders underscored the need to work closely together during the remainder of the year, and we also talked about the important visit, upcoming, of Secretary of Defense Panetta here to Japan.

OK, thank you all very much, I apologize for being late tonight.

QUESTION: Sorry, one more question: did you talk about the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: No, as I indicated, that is not a topic that is handled by the State Department. Our job is to work with the Foreign Ministry. Ultimately, it will be the White House that will work closely with the Kantei on next steps in that regard.

Thank you all.