Interview With Sumiko Mori of Fuji TV

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 22, 2011

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I have some questions. As Secretary of State, I know that dealing with crises throughout the world is not unusual, but what have you felt as you have seen the tragedy unfold in Japan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have just been heartbroken to see the unbelievable force of first the earthquake, then the tsunami and its impact on so many thousands of people. And then to see the additional disaster – the nuclear reactors, which are posing such a problem. It has been unimaginable because no one could have predicted what you have been experiencing. And I want to extend my condolences to everyone who was affected and my very strong feeling of support to the Japanese people.

QUESTION: Yeah, concerning the broad alliance with Japan going forward, what will be the United States’ ongoing role in this tragedy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We will be with you every step of the way. We want to continue our provision of aid. We have sent many people to Japan to work with your government, to work with your utility company. We’ve sent many to do humanitarian work, recovery work. We will follow that up with providing additional technical assistance and other financial assistance. We believe in the resilience of the Japanese people and the spirit that has been evidenced during the last 10 days. And our friendship, our partnership, our alliance I think is even stronger today because of our working together throughout this terrible time of crisis.

QUESTION: How concerned are you about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant situation?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, I’m concerned. I think every person is, and most particularly Japanese people are. This is unprecedented. We don’t know exactly what can or should be done. If there were an easy answer, someone would take the manual off the shelf and open it up to -- what do you do when you have a 9.0 earthquake and a huge tsunami? That is just not anything that has been planned for.

So our experts are working with yours. We’re offering suggestions. Others around the world who have such experience are offering their recommendations. But we’re all just trying to help to try to contain and control this very difficult situation.

QUESTION: Do you think Japan can contain the radioactive material?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think Japan will. I think that it is taking time because it is so difficult. There will be consequences that we won’t yet know now what that might be. The first, most important job, is to get it contained and make sure it’s not causing further release of radioactivity, and then see what needs to be done to try to deal with the aftereffects.

QUESTION: U.S. Government offered guidance regarding the evacuation perimeters from that Fukushima area, which is different from the Japanese guidance. And this is viewed by some people as a lack of confidence. Would you please explain the decision-making process for this?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this should not be viewed as a lack of confidence. It should be viewed as a difference of opinion. This is what our experts say they would do as a matter of course in the United States. But I don’t think there is any strong disagreement with what the Japanese authorities have done, and they are constantly measuring what is the level of radioactivity in the air. So I think that this is just another one of the examples of how everybody’s trying to do the right thing. And of course, it is ultimately up to the Japanese authorities to make those decisions.

QUESTION: The Japanese Government is expending so much effort to deal with the catastrophe. Don’t you expect that – all of that to delay the resolution of the Okinawa-U.S. base issues and planned 2+2 meetings?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when I have spoken with the new foreign minister, when President Obama has spoken with Prime Minister Kan and others of our officials have spoken, the Japanese Government has consistently said, of course our highest priority is to deal with this immediate crisis. But we don’t want everything else to take a back seat. We want to have the 2+2. We want to keep talking about all of the issues that we have to deal with from what’s happening with some of the islands that are claimed by others to what’s happening with North Korea. So we know we have to focus and support you in dealing with the crisis, but we also have to keep an eye on everything else going on.

QUESTION: Yes. Although Japan has enormous domestic crisis, North Korea always poses a threat. And last week, North Korea said they are willing to return to the Six-Party Talks and discuss enrichment program. Does this change things?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we hope so. We are working with our Six-Party partners, including Japan, to try to make sure that North Korea returns to the negotiating table. It’s in everyone’s interest, including theirs, that they do so. So we hope that this will lead to a more constructive response by them.

QUESTION: Mm-hmm. We understand that the U.S. and North Korea talks are to be held this coming weekend in Germany. And what can you tell us about these talks?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That is not anything that we are planning. There is an effort to try to get North and South Korea to start talking and to communicate with each other. And we have ongoing contact, as does any – every country with North Korea on certain issues, but nothing formal is planned.

QUESTION: Okay. Finally, would you please give your personal message to the people of Japan who are suffering right now?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I first want to begin by expressing the deepest sympathy of the United States for the people of Japan, and particularly for those who have been directly affected who have lost everything – members of their family, friends, colleagues, their homes. It is such an overwhelming disaster. But I also want to express my confidence in the Japanese people. The resilience, the spirit that we have seen in the last 10 days, is a firm foundation for Japan to recover and rebuild from. And just as the United States has been working with the Japanese people through our humanitarian efforts, our search and rescue efforts, and with the Japanese officials through our consultation and our technical expertise, we will continue to work with Japan. And we will be your partner and your friend for years to come as you rebuild from this terrible disaster. I know that Japan will come out even stronger.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: My pleasure. Thank you.

PRN: 2011/449