U.S.-Japan-R.O.K. Trilateral Press Conference

Press Conference
Antony J. Blinken
Deputy Secretary of State
Tokyo, Japan
January 16, 2016

Thank you very much. I first want to express my great appreciation to Vice Foreign Minister Saiki and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for hosting us here in Tokyo, and also to Vice Minister Lim and the delegation from the Republic of Korea for being here with us. The discussions we had today were very positive, very productive, and very practical in advancing the cooperation among our three countries. And I just have to say how good it is to be here among two of our closest allies and strongest friends.

This meeting comes at a pivotal moment in regional relations. Just last month, the governments of the Republic of Korea and Japan concluded a historic agreement on the sensitive historical issue of "comfort women." The United States applauds this agreement. It took courageous statecraft on the part of both governments, and it represents a very important gesture of healing and reconciliation. Now we look forward to even stronger and constructive relations between two of the United States' most important allies.

We face many challenges in the region and around the world that require the collective efforts of our three countries. No challenge is greater than the one posed by North Korea. Its fourth nuclear test earlier this month starkly demonstrates the threat posed by its continued pursuit of its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs - in stark violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. The United States stands firmly united with the Republic of Korea and Japan - together with our Five-Party partners - in strongly condemning this test and in our determination to impose costs for the D.P.R.K.'s flaunting of its international obligations.

Each of the Five-Party members - Japan, Korea, China, Russia, and the United States - has a profound stake in the stability of this region. The actions of North Korea are the greatest source of its instability, and we must act together accordingly. Indeed, a theme running through our discussions today was the paramount importance of upholding rules and norms that safeguard the stability of the region and the security of all nations. We share an interest in enforcing those rules and norms, including the freedom of navigation and safe passage in the South China Sea - an economic lifeline for all three of our countries. We look forward to the conclusion of a code of conduct that sets clear, predictable, and binding rules on the South China Sea.

We also discussed ways we're working together to address transnational challenges - from fighting climate change to building global health security, to countering violent extremism. Our biggest challenges are global in scope but local in impact. We discussed a very practical agenda to address those challenges collectively. And we discussed steps we can take to unlock the potential of all our citizens, including advancing the empowerment of women and connecting our brightest innovators and entrepreneurs.

These discussions are at the very heart of the United States' strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and underscore our full commitment to the enduring prosperity, security, and stability of the region. The strength and vitality of our trilateral relationship is indispensable to realizing this vision - to meeting the challenges of our day and seizing the opportunities of our time.

And today's discussion reflected a clear sense, I would say, of momentum and energy in our trilateral relationship. Global in scope and bound by common values, this cooperation has provided the foundation for the region's transformational growth and stability, and today promises to help usher in an even brighter future.

Thank you very much.