Briefing on the Secretary's Meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba

Special Briefing
Waldorf Astoria
New York City
September 19, 2011

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: In the absence of a real Asia expert, you have me to background – Senior State Department Official – on the Secretary’s meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Gemba. As you know, this meeting comes two days before President Obama is slated to have his first meeting with Prime Minister Noda, which will be on Wednesday. So they were obviously reviewing the agenda.

The Secretary opened by reiterating how strong the U.S. commitment is to our U.S.-Japan alliance, which we consider the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region. She noted that despite the difficult year that Japan has had, our alliance remains very much a global one. We work together all around the world, and she noted in particular that Japan was front and center this morning at the Haiti ministerial and she thanked Japan for its continued global leadership and commitment.

They spoke obviously about bilateral issues, about regional issues, and about global issues. On the bilateral side, the foreign minister noted that there’s concern in Japan, and the Secretary seconded this, that fewer Japanese are visiting the United States and studying in the U.S. and fewer Americans are studying in Japan. And they both committed to work on this issue because these students and business folk going both ways have really deepened and enriched the alliance and our mutual understanding.

On Okinawa and the Futenma Base, the Secretary underscored that we hope we can move forward quickly with implementing the agreement that we came to with the previous government in 2+2 format earlier this summer.

The Foreign Minister Gemba spoke of Japanese interest in an idea that we had to have a U.S.-Japan space framework agreement, and I think we’re going to start working on that.

The subject of beef came up, which has been a difficult trade issue, and the Secretary stressed that we hope that this issue can be resolved on the basis of science and international standards.

On the regional side, they looked forward to the APEC meeting in Hawaii in November, and they both discussed the importance of a rules-based approach to trade and moving forward with that agenda at the APEC summit in Hawaii.

They also both underscored the importance of freedom of navigation in the Asia Pacific region, South China Sea issue, and both Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Gemba expressed the hope that we can make significant progress on the South China Sea issue in the context of the East Asia Summit later in the year in Bali.

They also talked about the DPRK and our shared hope that we can persuade the DPRK to take concrete steps to meet its commitments, and the Secretary pledged to send a U.S. team to speak in more detail to the new Japanese Government on where we stand on these issues if that would be helpful.

Then moving further afield, the Secretary spoke about the New Silk Road Initiative that we are pursuing and our hope that Japan will be an active player in this effort to strengthen regional economic integration in South and Central Asia and also about our intention to stay in close touch on Afghanistan as we move towards our goal of transferring leadership to the Afghans in 2014.

And obviously the issue of UN reform was raised and the Hague Convention on child abduction.

Why don’t I pause there, and if you have any Japan-related questions, I’ll do my best. No Japan-related questions? Hurray. Oh, never mind. Please. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You said that on talk of Okinawa and Futenma that Secretary Clinton said she hoped that we can move forward quickly with the 2+2 agreement. How did Gemba react to this?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I’ll let the Japanese side characterize its own views, but obviously, this will be a subject as well we would anticipate at the prime ministerial/presidential meeting.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) to the presence of DPRK, did they discuss any type of further discussions or the Six-Party Talks or what -- I don’t know how many -- how deep you can get into any of the details (inaudible).

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I don’t want to get too deeply into the details. This was a half hour meeting where they covered 15 subjects, as I just outlined. So they clearly come at the issues from the same place, and there seemed to be no change with regard to a new Japanese government. And as I said, Secretary Clinton undertook to have our teams get together on this issue to have a deep dive.

PRN: 2011/1537