Remarks With Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto; and Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa After Their Meeting
Secretary of State
It has been more than three months since the tragic events of March 11th left tens of thousands of people dead or missing, and hundreds of thousands homeless. The Japanese people have shown remarkable strength in the face of this unprecedented crisis. All Americans have been proud to stand with you and support your efforts to recover. Today, we discussed our countries’ ongoing work together and reaffirmed our commitment to maintain these efforts for as long as they are needed.
We also made important progress on several initiatives that will enhance our ability to defend Japan and respond to a variety of threats to the security of the Asia Pacific region. For example, we explored ways to broaden and deepen our cooperation on defense technologies. As Secretary Gates will describe, we also took steps to reduce the impact of our defense presence on the communities in Okinawa.
We discussed a range of regional and global issues. On North Korea, we remain committed to deterring further provocative behaviors by North Korea, supporting a North-South dialogue, and promoting the complete and peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We talked about our efforts to improve regional cooperation in a variety of multilateral forums and through a trilateral dialogue with India. On global issues, we discussed our joint efforts to advance peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, ensure Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and bring security against the pirates to the waters off the Horn of Africa.
But overall, we really celebrated the mutual respect and shared values that have served us so well for the past 50 years. As the U.S.-Japan alliance enters its second half century, it remains indispensible to the peace, security, and economic dynamism of the Asia-Pacific Region, and I was very honored to have this opportunity to host our colleagues and discuss these very important issues together.
FOREIGN MINISTER MATSUMOTO: (Via interpreter) Well, let me try once again. Since the 50th anniversary of Japan-U.S. security treaty last year, we’ve continued our consultations for the purpose of deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance. And I am very happy to say that, as a result of those efforts, we’ve met today in this 2+2 setting, which takes place for the first time in four years. And during these four years, there have been change in government in both countries, but especially in Japan we had a full – what I might call full-fledge change of government. And this was 2+2 held for the first time under a DPJ administration. And for that, it is all the more significant.
Now, in the evening years, the strategic environment around Japan and in the region underwent significant change. And Japan was struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake on the 11th of March. And I’d like to take this opportunity once again to express our heartfelt gratitude for the very special cooperation extended to us by the United States in the aftermath of the earthquake. And I’d like to mention to you that under these circumstances, the awareness of the importance of Japan-U.S. alliance has only increased, not just in the two governments but amongst the peoples of our two countries.
And in the 2+2 today, in the security consultative committee meeting today, we first took up the regional situation in East Asia. And so I – that the uncertainties in the security – regional security environment has been increasing. And building on that basic understanding, we agreed on new common strategic objectives.
Next, we discussed Japan-U.S. security and defense cooperation in the future and agreed on a deepening and expanding cooperation in a broad range of areas. In addition to regularizing the extended deterrence consultations, including nuclear, in the area of so-called global commons, we also agreed to have consultations on space and cyberspace as well. We also agreed to further advance in cooperation with countries that share – countries in the region that share values with us, in such settings as in Japan-U.S.-ROK, and Japan-U.S.-Australia trilateral cooperation, et cetera.
And also, with regard to U.S. forces, a realignment, that we also reaffirmed that we shall continue the consultations, the work that has been underway. The purpose of the realignment is to maintain deterrence and reduce burdens on local entities, and the agreement this time is to achieve both.
Also agreed on – and also, we confirmed close cooperation on reducing burdens on local communities, including on issues of – on preventing incidents and accidents and reducing – and dealing with noise issues.
I also believe that the 2+2 meeting this time managed to come up with very important – extremely important results, in setting the direction for future Japan-U.S. security cooperation in a broad range of areas. And on the basis of this joint statement, we’d like to continue to do all our best to further develop Japan-U.S. security relations and deepen Japan-U.S. alliance.
I’d like to also express our heartfelt gratitude to Secretary Clinton for hosting us and hosting this 2+2 meeting, and also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Secretary Gates for working very hard for this Japan-U.S. alliance until the very last – very end of his term. And let me also say that we can conclude this 2+2 meeting with pride for the results that we have achieved thanks to all the efforts that have been made by people concerned at the State Department, Defense Department, Ambassador Roos and all the others concerned. And I certainly would have to express -- and of course to also express my gratitude to the – most of the important people that he got – people at the White House.
And with that, let me conclude my remarks. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY GATES: We had an excellent discussion today that focused on the most critical challenges facing the Asia Pacific region. Those included the denuclearization of North Korea, supporting continued progress in Afghanistan, and maritime security. We have also agreed on a framework to transfer jointly produced missile defense interceptors to third parties, to deepen our cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and to start new initiatives in space and cyber security.
The sight of U.S. and Japanese forces working side by side to bring aid to the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in March demonstrated the high level of interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces. It also validated years of investment by both nations in training and capabilities. It also demonstrated to a new generation in both countries the close bonds between our people and the value of this alliance.
As a Pacific power, the U.S. remains committed to maintaining a robust forward presence in East Asia. The decision announced today on the Futenma replacement facility configuration, along with other elements of the 2006 Realignment Roadmap, shows we are making steady progress toward modernizing U.S. forward presence in the region. It is critical that we move forward with the relocation of Futenma and construction of facilities in Guam for the U.S. Marines. Doing so will reduce the impact of our presence on local residents in Okinawa while allowing us to maintain capabilities critical to the alliance in Japan.
Close on a personal note: After coming to this position in late 2006, one of the most positive changes I saw from my last time in government was an extraordinary improvement in U.S.-Japanese relations. Those ties have only grown and deepened in recent years. I leave this post convinced that the future of our alliance is a bright one that will continue to be the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific.
DEFENSE MINISTER KITAZAWA: (Via interpreter) I assumed office as defense minister in September of 2009, and I am truly happy that I was able to attend this 2+2 meeting that was held for the first time in four years, and to engage in a very useful exchange of views, discussions with Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates.
I believe that the fact that this first 2+2 meeting since the inauguration of DPJ administration in Japan and producing important results in terms of – in the area of defense is a reflection of the maturity of Japanese democracy, and in that respect I think it’s been very significant.
Now, if I may add some commentary in my own way, in the past – the alliance in the past half a century, the Liberal Democratic Party continued to play a central role, while the opposition, not quite having majority, had voiced their opposition and criticism. Now that DPJ has come into power, we had this first 2+2 under a DPJ administration, and this means that more than 80 percent of the political forces in Japan are committed to the Japan-U.S. alliance. So I think this is very significant for the next half century of the alliance.
And let me briefly comment on the 2+2 meeting this time from my position as defense minister. We referred to the new defense program guidelines of Japan and the U.S. military transformation and agreed to strengthen the security and cooperation – security and defense cooperation in numerous areas. And I think we achieved an important result by agreeing on the criteria for agreeing to third-country transfers of SM-3 Block IIA and consultative mechanism for that purpose.
The Government of Japan is currently engaged in study for the – in order to deal with increasing sophistication of defense equipment and reducing costs involved against the backdrop of increasing trends for international code to (inaudible) and production. And on this we agreed to further promote such efforts, and the U.S. Government will encourage this – such efforts.
We also decided on the v-shape configuration for the runways in connection with the Futenma relocation issue, and I think this is very important progress towards the relocation of the facilities. We decided to remove the deadline of 2014 for its completion, but – in order to avoid the continued – forever continuing use of Futenma Air Station. We also confirmed a mutual strive for earliest possible relocation.
I also took the opportunity to express once again our heartfelt gratitude for the very generous support given by the United States in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and for the kindness extended and mentioned that the entire Japanese are grateful for the Operation Tomodachi and greatly encouraged by that.
I believe it’ll be very important for us to learn from the experience of the earthquake and adapt to changing circumstances. And I believe it’ll be very – extremely important for Japan and the United States to engage in discussions on various matters, including the idea of establishing a logistic hub for disaster relief and for the utilization of leading-edge technologies such as robots and UAVs. I explained this idea and the U.S. side concurred, which is – I’m very happy about that.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, the understanding of the significance of the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan, including the Marine Corps in Okinawa, I believe has been understood that has brought a greater sense of security to the Japanese people. And building the results of the 2+2 meeting this time, I’d like to continue to strive to further cement the ties that we have close to us, we have between our two countries, and for the deepen and advance our alliance.
Lastly, well, since Secretary Gates has said – towards his end of his remarks, he spoke on a personal note, let me also reciprocate by speaking on a personal note. Well, this will be my last meeting with Secretary Gates, but this also happened to be the seventh meeting that I’ve had with him over the years. And I would like to send a very warm applause to him as he leaves the stage, wishing that he would continue to apply his outstanding capability in the private sector, and if at all possible, I hope that he will be a regular attendant, participant at the Shangri-La Dialogue in the future as well. So let me conclude by expressing my heartfelt gratitude for the very significant contributions that he has made to date. (Applause.)
MS. NULAND: Unfortunately, given that we have consecutive translation today, we only have time for one question from the American side and one question from the Japanese side. From the American side, Jill Dougherty, CNN. Please.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, Secretary Gates says that the start of any drawdown in Afghanistan should be modest. Others, of course, think that it should be much speedier. What is your view on this, and which scenario would make it easier for the State Department personnel, USAID, other civilians in Afghanistan to carry out their mission?
And just a quick question on another subject, the Saudi women driver’s protest. We were told yesterday that you are engaged in quiet diplomacy. Some people think that it’s a little bit too quiet and they would say that perhaps the reason you’re doing that is because you do not want to offend the Saudi Government at a time when the United States really needs it, especially in the Mideast. Can you explain your views on that?
And Secretary Gates, if I could, you say that the drawdown has to be politically credible here at home. Could you explain a little bit more what you meant by that? Because of course, it could be open to interpretation that political considerations are driving this rather than the situation on the ground. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, let me start with respect to Afghanistan. And I think you would expect me to say that I will not have any comment before the President delivers the speech that he intends to make. The time for it has not yet been set, but we expect it will be occurring soon. In fact, Secretary Gates and I will be leaving here to go to the White House for further consultations with the President. And then I am scheduled to testify on Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And I’m sure, since the subject of the hearing is Afghanistan and Pakistan, I will have quite a bit to say and a lot of questions to answer, so at that time I will certainly respond to your concerns that you raised in the question.
With respect to Saudi Arabia and the ban on women driving, let me start by saying that this is about Saudi women themselves. They have joined together. They are acting on behalf of their own rights. This is not about the United States. It is about the women of Saudi Arabia. And what these women are doing is brave and what they are seeking is right. But the effort belongs to them. I am moved by it and I support them, but I want to underscore the fact that this is not coming from outside of their country. This is the women themselves seeking to be recognized.
And we have raised this issue at the highest level of the Saudi Government. We’ve made clear our views that women everywhere, including women in the Kingdom, have the right to make decisions about their lives and their futures. They have the right to contribute to society and to provide for their children and their families. And mobility, such as provided by the freedom to drive, provides access to economic opportunity, including jobs, which does fuel growth and stability. And it’s also important for just day-to-day life, to say nothing of the necessity from time to time to transport children for various needs and sometimes even emergencies.
Now, I know there is an active debate in Saudi Arabia on a range of social issues. For our part, we will continue in private and in public to urge all governments to address issues of discrimination and to ensure that women have the equal opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential. But I want to, again, underscore and emphasize that this is not about the United States, it’s not about what any of us on the outside say; it is about the women themselves and their right to raise their concerns with their own government.
SECRETARY GATES: With respect to political credibility of the President’s decision, it simply was a – first of all, it was intended to be open to interpretation. And second, the President has to take into account on any national security issue sustainability here at home, both among the public and in the Congress. And it goes without saying that there are a lot of reservations in the Congress about the war in Afghanistan and our level of commitment. There are concerns among the American people, who are tired of a decade of war. So the President obviously has to take those matters into consideration as well as the conditions on the ground in Afghanistan in making his decision.
MS. NULAND: Last question, Mr. Sakaguchi, Mainichi Shimbun.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) I’d like to ask both Minister Kitazawa and Secretary Gates about a veto of Futenma relocation and U.S. forces realignment. Following the inauguration of the DPJ administration, there was some confusion regarding the U.S. forces realignment, whereas now, the situation has really returned to – with it, understanding agreement under the LDP Komeito coalition government. So what do you think of this whole process that has led to the current situation?
As for the Futenma relocation issue, there is now some voice in the U.S. Congress seeking review, revisiting the Futenma relocation agreement itself in view of fiscal pressures. Would there be a possibility for the two governments to reconsider their Futenma understanding?
DEFENSE MINISTER KITAZAWA: (Via interpreter) Well, let me start first. The suggestion, I think, was that under the DPJ administration, we simply returned to the proposal that was being worked on by the previous government. In the overall Japanese politics, this issue has been regarded, is regarded as a major issue that needs to be dealt with. And therefore, when the DPJ administration came in, we looked into this Japan-U.S. and – Government agreement established by the previous administration. We looked into it and studied it very carefully, and studied from various angles. And as a result, we have arrived at today’s agreement on the configuration at this candidate site. Now if you suggest that this has been loss of time, I would say this is a cost that entails democracy as we have a change of government under democracy.
Opinions in Okinawa are very harsh, and we confirmed in our meeting today that we and Japan will do our – make our best efforts to try and get the understanding of Governor Nakaima of Okinawa and the local people there. The purpose of U.S. realignment, as I mentioned earlier, is to maintain deterrence and to reduce local impact, the local burden. And so we’ll be working on U.S. forces – the Japan-U.S. agreement – achieve the Japan-U.S. agreement in order to achieve both objectives. And to that end, let me say that we’ll continue to make our maximum efforts.
SECRETARY GATES: Secretary Clinton and I both informed our colleagues this morning that the letter from Senators Webb and Levin about the realignment is really a manifestation of growing congressional impatience with the lack of progress. We both reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s commitment to the 2006 realignment plan, but at the same time emphasized the importance of concrete progress over the course of the next year.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.