Remarks at a United States-Japan-Republic of Korea Trilateral Press Conference

Antony J. Blinken
Deputy Secretary of State
Tokyo, Japan
October 27, 2016

Before I start, let me just say that the United States government is deeply saddened by the passing of His Imperial Highness Prince Takahito of Mikasa, which we just learned of a short while ago. Our thoughts and our prayers are with the people of Japan at this time.

It is a sincere pleasure and privilege to be back in Tokyo with my good friends Vice Foreign Minister Sugiyama and Vice Foreign Minister Lim, and as Vice Foreign Minister Sugiyama just said, this is now the fifth meeting that we’ve had at the vice-foreign ministerial level among the United States, Japan, and Korea. And it’s both a personal pleasure, but also a professional one to be able to work so closely with my colleagues and friends.

The discussions today – as they have been – were positive, productive, concrete, and they reaffirm the essential place our trilateral cooperation has in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

Last week, North Korea’s failed missile test – its 24th missile test this year alone – was an acute reminder of the DPRK as a provocative threat to regional peace and security.

Against the DPRK’s reckless and destabilizing behavior, President Obama, Secretary of Defense Carter, and Secretary of State Kerry have underscored our unshakable commitment to defend our allies, to meet our treaty obligations, to provide extended deterrence, guaranteed by the full spectrum of U.S. defense capabilities.

We will not back down. We will not be intimidated. And we will not hesitate in our commitment to international peace and security and our obligations under the nonproliferation treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

The challenge that North Korea poses was at the center of our discussion today, as you heard from Vice Foreign Minister Sugiyama. We recommitted to our three-pronged approach to the DPRK – deterrence, diplomacy, pressure.

We deter North Korea through a strong defensive military posture rooted in our alliances with the Republic of Korea and Japan, and we have strengthened those alliances and our defense cooperation through expanded deployments, exercises, and weapon systems in order to meet this growing threat.

Diplomatically, nations around the world are united in their isolation and condemnation of North Korea. At the same time, we continue to make clear to the North that we are ready at any time to engage in credible negotiations on denuclearization and to offer a path to security, prosperity, and respect – a path that others like Iran have chosen to take.

Unfortunately, North Korea shows no signs of taking that path.

The third component of our strategy is pressure. Working together with our allies and partners, we have applied multilateral and national sanctions, significantly impeding the DPRK regime’s ability to generate hard currency, to proliferate arms or nuclear material, to attract international investment or economic assistance, or to extract concessions and aid from the outside world. At the United Nations, we are working together to ensure that we hold Kim Jong Un and his government accountable for flagrantly disregarding the will of the international community.

Today, as the Vice Foreign Minister said, we discussed practical measures that we can take to increase the costs on North Korea and target its revenue and reputation until it makes a strategic decision to return to serious talks on denuclearization and complies with the international obligations and commitments that it has signed onto.

Our trilateral partnership is defined not only by our unity in the face of the DPRK threat. It is also anchored in a positive, peaceful vision for the region and for the world. And I think it’s fair to say that few countries have as much to contribute to upholding a rules-based, norms-based global order as our three countries – as vibrant democracies deeply invested in the principles and values of that order, and as economic leaders for sustainable growth and game-changing innovation.

Just since our last meeting in July, our top Arctic officials have discussed ways to foster even deeper scientific cooperation. Our leading scientists met on cancer and brain research. Our governments brought together dozens of emerging leaders from our three countries for a Women’s Empowerment Forum, because we know that when women are empowered, societies are more productive, more democratic, more inclusive, and far more prosperous.

We are also deepening our trilateral cooperation on countering violent extremism, preventing and responding to infectious disease, meeting the growing challenge of cyber threats, and coordinating our approaches to economic development.

Nearly eight years after President Obama rebalanced the sights of the United States toward Asia, we are allies in a region increasingly bound by common ideals, shared prosperity, and a collective sense of global responsibility. Given the growing momentum and substantive record of our trilateral partnership, I’m very confident that we will meet any measure of challenge and also open new frontiers of opportunity – as unbounded as the capabilities and potential of all three of our countries.

Thank you very much.