Remarks With Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba After Their Meeting
Secretary of State
Today, we discussed a number of important topics, starting with the United States’ unwavering commitment to Japan’s defense and security. Our negotiators have been working to finalize a new agreement that strengthens our alliance and is more politically sustainable. We have reiterated our commitment to maintaining a military presence in Japan that will enable the United States to defend Japan while ensuring regional peace and security.
We covered a number of regional and global issues, but spent most of our time on North Korea’s planned missile launch. Our two governments will continue to closely coordinate, consult, and cooperate as this situation develops. We share a strong interest in stability on the Korean peninsula, and we believe that strength and security will not come from more provocations but from North Korea living up to its commitments and obligations.
So I thank the foreign minister for his visit, and I look forward to working with him over the next two days during the G-8 foreign ministers meetings.
FOREIGN MINISTER GEMBA: (Via interpreter.) Then allow me to say a few words at the outset. I believe there have been main themes, and that is, number one, preparation for the upcoming visit by the prime minister. And the other matter was concerning North Korea.
First, with respect to North Korea, launch of a missile that is – that they allege to be a satellite will harm a path toward resumed dialogues the United States made. There should be close cooperation between Japan and the United States; Japan, the U.S., and ROK, and further with the other concerned countries, including China and Russia. Efforts need to be made until the last moment so that North Korea are restrained from the launch. This is something that the two people agreed on.
We believe that in the upcoming G-8 meeting that is to be held from tomorrow, it is necessary for us to issue a very strong message. Should DPRK goes ahead and launch it, that would obviously be a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions. Vis-à-vis repeated violations of the Security Council resolutions, Japan and the United States should cooperate with each other closely. The international security, including the Security Council, should take appropriate actions, and that is something that we also agreed upon.
Now, next with respect to the bilateral relationship between Japan and the United States, the upcoming visit to the United States by our prime minister is defined to be something that would set the direction of the Japan-U.S. alliance for many, many months and years to come. So we regard this as something that is very important.
Of course, it is needless to say that we need to further advance the Japan-U.S. security and defense cooperation. In respect of our discussion regarding adjustment to the realignment plan of the U.S. Forces in Japan, we agreed that we would make efforts so that we can come to an agreement that would contribute to the earliest possible mitigation of the burden on Okinawa by maintaining the deterrence. And we had a very extensive discussion about the security aspects. Now, we believe that the result of the realignment consultations will result in enhancing an ability of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
With respect to the issue of TPP, I am going to meet with the head of USTR, the ambassador, and so I refer the matter there. But we also had a conversation about the possibility of export of American shale gas to Japan, and Japan-U.S. cooperation in the field of outer space and the area of culture and personal exchanges, including the centennial of Japan’s gift of cherry trees to the United States.
Of course, we discussed various other matters as well, but of course the topic of Afghanistan will be certainly discussed in the G-8 foreign ministers meeting to be held from tomorrow. And on this occasion, I would like to take this opportunity to express my respect to Secretary Clinton for exercising leadership on various fronts as chair of the G-8 foreign ministerial. And we would like to continue to closely cooperate with each other for a successful G-8 meeting that will begin tomorrow.
MS. NULAND: Good. We’ll take two today. We’ll start with CNN, Elise Labott.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. To follow up on your comments on North Korea, what do you do next if it looks as if the launch is ready to be undertaken? Repeated Security Council violations, and it looks as if China is unable or unwilling to do anything to persuade the North. I mean – and does that put you in a bit of a box in terms of what you can do? Because the longer you go without talking with North Korea, the longer they have to constitute their – further constitute their program.
And on Syria, it’s clear that today is April 10th and President Assad has violated his own self-imposed deadline. What are your next steps? Considering now that Syrian troops have fired across the border into Turkey, no one can claim that this is just an internal Syrian matter. This seems to becoming a much wider issue of international – threat to international security.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Let me make absolutely clear that any launch by North Korea would be a serious, clear violation of their obligations under already existing UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874.
We are consulting closely in capitals and at the United Nations in New York, and we will be pursuing appropriate action. But I would just underscore that if North Korea wants a peaceful, better future for their people, it should not conduct another launch that would be a direct threat to regional security.
With respect to Syria, Kofi Annan made clear to the Security Council this morning that Assad is not complying with the commitments that he made under the six-point plan and that, in fact, the violence has only gotten worse over this last week. Just yesterday, Syrian forces fired on refugees fleeing across the border into Turkey. They then lit fires to their own forests to try to flush out opposition fighters, and they fired across the border into Lebanon.
We are holding intensive discussions in New York, again in capitals. I’ve spoken with the Turkish foreign minister. We will be discussing this at the G-8 ministerial meeting. I will be particularly raising this with Foreign Minister Lavrov. And the Council will hear directly from Kofi Annan on Thursday.
MS. NULAND: Now a question. Tokyo Kyodo News, Mr. Mizuno.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) I would like to ask this question to both Secretary Clinton and Minister Gemba. And my question has to do with a post-launch response of North Korea. Now, Minister Gemba earlier said that Japan and the United States would closely cooperate with each other. It was agreed that they would take an appropriate measure in the event of a launch of a missile. Now, specifically, what is going to be done?
This month, the United States is the chair country of the Security Council. So now if there’s a launch of the missile by North Koreans, do you have an intention to convene an emergency Security Council meeting? And I would like to ask Foreign Minister Gemba if you have an intention to ask for a convocation of such an emergency Security Council meeting. Now, at the Security Council meeting, Minister Gemba – well, you said on your own that you have been approaching China about the post-launch response that China might make. Now, do you have an intention to seek a new resolution about this in the Security Council meeting? And on the part of the United States, if there is such a request for a new resolution, how would the Security Council respond to such a request? Do you have a meeting of minds, agreements on this matter between yourselves?
FOREIGN MINISTER GEMBA: (Via interpreter.) To answer the question posed by Mr. Mizuno, that is indeed a matter that we discussed in full detail in the meeting. However, this is a diplomatic effort, so I do not think it is appropriate for me to mention in detail what was really discussed.
As I said a moment ago, if there’s a launch of the missile by North Koreans, we agreed that we would take an appropriate measure that includes – the United States and Japan would cooperate with each other and the international community, including the Security Council, would take an appropriate measure.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I completely agree with the foreign minister. Thank you so much, Minister.