Joint Press Availability with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka

Press Availability
James B. Steinberg
Deputy Secretary of State
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tokyo, Japan
June 1, 2009

NOTE: Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Yabunaka spoke in Japanese and his remarks are not transcribed here.

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Thank you very much. I want to thank the Vice Foreign Minister and his colleagues for hosting me and our interagency delegation today. This morning the Vice Minister and I had a very productive session on U.S.-Japan cooperation across a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues where we share many common goals and interests. This afternoon we continued with an in depth discussion concerning North Korea’s missile and nuclear program. Our talks today focused on developing a common strategy toward the North Korean challenge including steps that we can take together with others following action in the United Nations Security Council in the coming days. We stand united in making clear our deep concern about North Korea’s highly destabilizing actions and reaffirm our commitment to work together, along with South Korea, China and Russia to return North Korea to the path of complete and verifiable denuclearization. I reaffirmed to the minister the United States’ unshakeable commitment to our partnership and to Japan’s security, and look forward to further discussions with Prime Minister Aso tomorrow and other senior Japanese officials.

QUESTION (translated from Japanese): Are the U.S. and Japan going to put more pressure on North Korea? And another question – is there growing urgency in the discussions about long-range ballistic missiles? What kind of measures will you take to defend Japan?

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: I think we’re having very productive sessions both here and in New York about what steps we should take together through the UN Security Council and elsewhere to make clear to North Korea that this is a bad path to go down, that they need to reverse course and to take steps to return towards their agreements to pursue complete denuclearization and to end their missile program. I think the international community has spoken very clearly both in response to their ballistic missile test of earlier this year and the nuclear test of this month and I think that we are all working together very effectively and I look forward to our conversations with the other members of the Six-Party Talks to find a common stand to address this question.