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U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Transcript

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Japanese Minister of Defense Satoshi Morimoto September 17, 2012

Joint Press Conference with Secretary Panetta and Japanese Minister of Defense Morimoto from Tokyo, Japan

STAFF (through translator): Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to begin with a joint press conference. And Mr. Morimoto and Secretary Panetta will make their opening statements. First of all, I would like to ask Minister Morimoto to start.

DEFENSE MINISTER OF JAPAN SATORI MORIMOTO (through translator): I am delighted to welcome Secretary Panetta at the Ministry of Defense on his visit to Japan, as the first country to call on his Asia Pacific trip this time. This is the second Japan-U.S. defense ministerial meeting that I attended since being appointed in June. It was very meaningful that I was able to have frank exchange of views with Secretary Panetta on various bilateral issues, including the defense cooperation this time, as well.

Following our meeting last month, I reaffirmed with Secretary Panetta that Japan-U.S. alliance continues to be important for ensuring Japan's safety and the region's stability. In particular, on dynamic defense cooperation, we agreed to work together in enhancing the deterrence of the alliance through joint training and other activities. We also confirmed to discuss deepening cooperation on surveillance and reconnaissance activities in the southwestern region.

On the -- RNC-- consultations – as well as the modalities of Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines we confirmed to be engaged in necessary further study and consultations bilaterally. We agreed to continue consultations to coordinate on ballistic missile defense, including how to deploy, X-band radar in Japan, from the viewpoint of building strategic posture which serves to ensure safety of Japan and the region.

In regards to MV-22 Osprey, we confirmed that the discussions on safety of the operations are in the final stage at the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee. I requested that there will be positive agreement and that due consideration will be given to safety.

We also confirmed that, when the Joint Committee finalizes coordination on the agreement, and when government of Japan confirms the safety, then flight operation of Osprey will be possible.

Secretary Panetta stated that he takes due consideration on the safety, bearing in mind the concerns of local residents. We confirmed objectives of the realignment, maintaining deterrence and reducing the burden of local residents.

I expressed my determination to implement the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Hanoko. We concurred to continue to steadily implement our agreement in April, including completion of bilateral cost breakdown for the relocation of Marines to Guam and development of a plan for the land returned in Okinawa. In particular, I asked Secretary Panetta for a positive engagement in developing a consolidation plan on land returned south of Kadena by the end of this year.

I hope that we will continue to address various issues based on the fruits of our exchange of views today to further deepen and enhance Japan-U.S. alliance going forward.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON E. PANETTA: Good afternoon. Let me begin by thanking Minister Morimoto for hosting me here in Japan. It is truly a pleasure to be able to come back to this country and to enjoy its warm hospitality and to be able to meet with the minister once again, after his visit to the Pentagon last month.

I also had a very productive meeting with Foreign Minister Gemba earlier this morning, and I appreciate his partnership, as well.

Minister Morimoto and I have established what I believe is a very strong working relationship. And today, we reaffirmed that the United States-Japan alliance is the bedrock of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, as it has been for more than 50 years.

In our meeting, we discussed regional security challenges, and particularly the threat from North Korea. We also discussed tangible ways to modernize this historic alliance for the 21st century, including through the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

Both of our nations agree on the need to rapidly implement the terms of the revised realignment plan that was outlined in the April 2012 two-plus-two statement, so that we can move forward on this key part of realigning U.S. forces' posture in the Asia-Pacific region.

Another enhancement to our forces in the region is the deployment of the Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys to Okinawa. The Osprey is important to the defense of Japan. It provides twice the speed, three times the payload, four times the range compared to the platform that they replace. The Osprey will enable us to more effectively perform humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations, and fulfill other roles critical to the U.S.-Japan alliance.

It is in the spirit of partnership and friendship that we will continue to work closely with the Japanese government to reconfirm the safety of this aircraft. And I want to ensure my friends that safety comes first for our troops, as well. We have made great progress on this issue, important progress. And I believe we can expect a positive announcement soon.

Another key part of our modernization effort is our alliance roles and missions and capabilities review. Through this review, the United States and Japan are working closely together to plan for the roles of our defense forces in the future, the types of missions the alliance will undertake, and the capabilities we will need in order to invest in.

We are working to identify opportunities to deepen our cooperation in information security, in ISR, in space, in cyberspace, and other high-tech capabilities. Ultimately, this review process may lead to a revision of the guidelines that form the basis of our defense cooperation.

Meanwhile, we are already moving toward greater cooperation on ballistic missile defense. The United States and Japan have begun coordination on the future deployment of additional TPY-2 surveillance radar to Japan. The focus of this is to enhance our ability to defend Japan. It's also designed to help forward-deployed U.S. forces, and it also will be effective in protecting the U.S. homeland from the North Korean ballistic missile threat.

This continued close cooperation on ballistic missile defense reflects our joint commitment to this alliance and to promoting peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. Our new defense strategy for the United States clearly articulates America's rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, which we recognize is of growing importance to the international security and the global economy.

A fundamental purpose -- fundamental purpose of our rebalance is to maintain and strengthen our presence, but it is also to maintain and strengthen a system of rules, norms, and institutions in Asia that have brought decades of security and prosperity to this region. The United States-Japan alliance is one of the keys to that security and to that prosperity. And it is therefore a key to our rebalancing effort.

But ultimately, Japan is more than just an ally. It is also a great friend of America. So I thank you, Minister Morimoto, once again for your friendship, for your partnership, and for your commitment to a stronger United States-Japan alliance in the future.

Thank you.

STAFF (through translator): Now we would like to move to representative questions. In the interest of time, two questions each –from the two sides. The questioners should identify themselves by stating their name and affiliation, and please come up to the microphone in the front.

First of all, I would like to ask (inaudible) ask a question.

Q (through translator): My name is -- (inaudible) -- from Nikkei) -- newspaper. I have a question for each, minister and the secretary. Now, about the Osprey, for the flight operation in trying to ensure the safety, did you come to any concrete agreements? If there are any specific agreement being reached, could you tell us the content and what may be the test flight and so forth? What may be the concrete schedule going forward, please?

MINISTER MORIMOTO (through translator): Now, to your question, if I may give you the answer to start with, at the meeting this time with Secretary Panetta, at the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee on safe flight operations, the discussion has seen significant progress. This is what we were able to confirm.

At the same time, I have requested that the agreement should be positive and that due consideration will be provided to safety considerations. I have made that particular request.

As for concrete schedule going forward, nothing has been decided, but -- (inaudible) -- that when the coordinating discussion is finalized at the Japan-U.S. -- the Joint Committee, and that we are able to confirm these are the safety of the operations and we will go ahead with the flight operation.

SECRETARY PANETTA: I want to thank the minister for his cooperation in the efforts to move forward with the Osprey operations. We have a joint committee that has reviewed the safety issues, and I believe there is some very positive progress that's been made by the joint committee on this issue.

And what we will do is -- is rely on their agreement and the provisions of that in order to proceed. We will -- we will -- and I stressed this to the minister -- we will do everything possible to respond to the concerns with regards to the Osprey. We will take whatever steps necessary to try to assure the people involved here that the operations are safe, that we will do whatever we can to provide noise abatement, that we will do whatever we can to ensure that the operations are in keeping with the neighbors that we have and that we respect at the base we have in Okinawa.

So I feel very confident, with the cooperation of the minister and the government of Japan, that we are making good progress on this issue. And I look forward soon to the opportunity to be able to move forward with the operations of the Osprey.

MR. GEORGE LITTLE: And now to the American side, Julian Barnes of the Wall Street Journal.

Q: To the minister, where would you like to see the X-band TPY-2 radar placed?

And, Mr. Panetta, you've mentioned -- you've said that this was aimed at the North Korean threat, but in the past, Chinese officials have voiced objections to U.S. missile defense in the region and the build-up. Doesn't the announcement of the radar right now complicate your larger mission here in the region of helping reduce the tensions between Japan and China over the islands and other issues?

MINISTER MORIMOTO (through translator): In regards to X-band Radar, as Secretary Panetta has already explained to us at the outset, for the future deployment, we are having consultations between our two countries. This is -- (inaudible) -- defense of Japan, as well as for the forward deployment of the U.S. forces, and also for -- for the U.S. homeland especially to be defended from North Korean ballistic missiles, to try to strengthen the capability for these purposes.

So these are the main purposes in having consultation on X-band radar. We have not yet decided any concrete locations. I don't think we are at the juncture to -- to discuss this yet.

SECRETARY PANETTA: It is -- it's no secret that one of our concerns in this area is the ballistic missile threat from North Korea. They have over the years engaged in provocative behavior with regards to their missiles, that we consider a threat not just to our security, but the security of Japan, as well. And so it is for that reason that we believe it's very important to move forward with this TPY-2 radar in order to help provide ballistic missile defense for Japan and, in that sense, for the United States, as well.

We have made these concerns very clear to the Chinese that North Korea and the use of these ballistic missiles is a threat to our security. We've made that very clear. And we've also made clear that we will take steps to protect the United States and to protect our allies from that threat. And I will continue to make that point to the Chinese when I have the opportunity to meet with them.

STAFF (through translator): And the second question from the Japanese side, please.

Q (through translator): Second question. This is a question to Secretary Panetta. Right now in China, because of the territorial question between Japan, there is anti-Japanese demonstrations going on. Now have you agreed between the minister that the -- the article five of the Japan-U.S. treaty pact will be applied to Senkaku Islands. And what may be your message to China going forward?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Obviously, we are -- we're concerned by -- by the demonstrations, and we're concerned by the conflict that is taking place over the Senkaku Islands. And the message that I've tried to convey is a message that we have to urge calm and restraint on all sides.

United States policy with regards to these islands is well known. And obviously, we stand by our treaty obligations. They're longstanding, and that has not changed.

But the United States, as a matter of policy, does not take a position with regards to competing sovereignty claims. Having said that, we expect that these issues will be resolved peacefully. And although, you know, we understand the differences here with regards to jurisdiction, it is extremely important that diplomatic means on both sides be used to try to constructively resolve these issues.

These -- these approaches have to be based on clear principles, principles that relate to international rules and regulations and that have been consistently enunciated. It's in everybody's interest -- it is in everybody's interest for Japan and China to maintain good relations and to find a way to avoid further escalation.

MR. LITTLE: Final question, Lita Baldor of the Associated Press.

Q: Mr. Secretary, Mr. Minister, question to you on the latest occurrences in Afghanistan. As you probably are aware, there's been three incidents of insider attacks over the last several days, prompting Chairman Dempsey to call it a very serious threat to the war effort.

Prior to today, you've said that you didn't think that these attacks were actually affecting the war effort now. And I'm wondering if you could tell us how you think that has changed and what more do you think the U.S. can do about it. Thank you.

SECRETARY PANETTA: We remain very concerned with regards to the insider attacks. This is an approach that the Taliban is resorting to, similar to the use of IEDs. They are now using these insider attacks to strike at our forces. And we think, frankly, it is -- it is kind of a last gasp effort to be able to not only target our forces, but to try to create chaos, because they've been unable -- unable to regain any of the territory that they have lost.

Having said that, we are concerned about the increase in these attacks. General Allen is taking steps to try to ensure that this does not happen. There are a number of steps that they've tried to take with regards to the vetting of this -- of these personnel, the use of guardian angels to try to help protect our forces, and he is -- as I understand it -- taking further steps to try to assure their safety. We are going to do that. We're going to take all the steps necessary to try to protect our forces in this situation.

But, having said that, we are also going to continue to proceed with the basic plan that we have put in place for transition in Afghanistan. We have made good progress. We are transitioning areas to Afghan security and governance. We are going to continue to do that. We continue to work with the Afghan army to not only improve their operations and provide security, but to work with us on the effort to implement this transition.

This is a war. We're engaged in a war. And every day when you're engaged in a war, there are serious risks that confront those who fight the war. And we will do all we can to minimize those risks, but we will not lose sight of the fundamental mission here, which is to continue to proceed to assure a peaceful transition to Afghan security and governance. We're going to stick to that mission.

And I believe that ISAF and General Allen and our forces are committed to making sure that we ultimately achieve the mission we've embarked on in Afghanistan.

STAFF (through translator): Thank you. This is the time for us to end. This is the end of the joint conference.


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