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U.S. Department of Defense
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News Transcript

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter; Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada December 07, 2016

Joint Press Conference by Secretary Carter and Japanese Defense Minister Inada in Tokyo, Japan

STAFF (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We would like to start the joint press conference. First, opening remarks by Minister Inada and Defense Secretary Carter, beginning with Minister Inada.

DEFENSE MINISTER TOMOMI INADA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Good morning. I am very honored to receive Defense Secretary Carter at ministry of defense following September where Secretary Carter hosted me very warmly in Washington, D.C.

Today, we had discussions on topics such as the new guidelines of defense cooperation, including the alignment of U.S. forces in Japan, as well as initiatives taken after the enactment of Japan's peace and security legislation. We confirm that the alliance between our countries remains significant in ensuring the peace and stability of Japan and Asia-Pacific region and that the two counties with work closely in order to further strengthen our alliance.

As Prime Minister Abe and Secretary Carter announced yesterday, both governments agreed to cooperate to realize the return of the major portion of the Northern Training Area of approximately 4,000 hectare to the government of Japan on the 22nd of this month. The transfer will contribute to reducing this size of the U.S. forces facilities and areas occupied by about 20 percent.

Secretary Carter and I welcome this achievement as the outcome of both governments' efforts to mitigate impacts on Okinawa.

Regarding the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, we still have issues remaining that need to be addressed, especially Secretary Carter and I reaffirm that Futenma Replacement Facility at Himiko is the only solution that permits the return of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

I requested Secretary Carter to continue cooperation on initiatives to mitigate impacts on Okinawa and we both agree to continue cooperation. We recognize that work in the progress of continued efforts under the legislation for peace and security and the new guideline. Thus, the Japan-U.S. joint exercise Keen Sword '17 was conducted for the first time, which included contents of the legislation for peace and security.

We shared views on the tougher security environment of the Asia-Pacific region and we affirmed that the -- (inaudible) -- within this scope of Article Five of the Japan-U.S. security treaty.

Regarding North Korea's provocative actions, we confirmed that both countries will closely cooperate through measures such as the utilization of Alliance Coordination Mechanism, ACM. Also, Secretary Carter expressed strong commitment towards extended deterrence.

Moreover, we agreed to continue to promote trilateral defense cooperation, including Japan-U.S.-ROK defense cooperation. In addition, we confirmed that comprehensive improvement of Japan's capability respond to ballistic missiles and close cooperation between Japan and the United States regarding the third offset strategy will further strengthen deterrence and response capabilities of alliance in the region.

Last but certainly not the least, I conveyed my sincere gratitude to Secretary Carter for his instrumental role in building today's strong alliance between Japan and United States and agreed that Japan and United States will continue close cooperation based on the current strong alliance that we enjoy.

Reflecting on the outcomes of today's meeting, I will continue to make efforts to strengthen the alliance between Japan and United States. That is all from my side, thank you.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: Thank you very much both for those kind words and for hosting me here in Tokyo.

And good morning to all of you, thank you all for being here.

Minister Inada and I just finished a very positive and productive meeting. While we've only been counterparts for a few months, this is already the second time we have met. Minister Inada has proven to be a dedicated, incisive partner, addressing regional security challenges and challenges around the world and I appreciate her desire to strengthen the relationship between our two countries even further.

And already, she and I have taken important practical steps together. And it's been great for me to be back in Japan, which was my first stop when I first became secretary of defense. I'm proud of everything we've accomplished since that initial visit; updating our defense guidelines, continuing to modernize our alliance and partnering to catalyze the region's principled and inclusive security network, all to help ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for the Asia-Pacific.

And today, our alliance, which we see as the cornerstone of regional stability, has never been stronger or more capable of contributing to security throughout the region and beyond. And that -- that's thanks in great part to the progress we've made in recent years. The most significant, of course, was last year when we adopted new defense guidelines that we've been implementing. These guidelines allow us to address new threats in this vital region, around the world and across multiple domains, including newer domains like space and cyber space.

We're proud of everything Japan is already doing globally, of course. Its peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, contributions to counter piracy efforts and helping rebuild Afghanistan, to name just a few.

These new guidelines will allow us to do even more together. And as we expand what we're able to do together, we're also continuing to modernize how we do things together. We're deploying our most sophisticated capabilities to Japan, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Aegis ballistic missile defense ships, P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, E-2D advanced early warning aircraft and B-22 Ospreys.

And we've established a second missile defense radar system here in Japan to strengthen our combined ability to defend against the threat posed by North Korea's continued nuclear and missile provocations.

The minister and I discussed continuing to innovate within our alliance. We're also realigning our joint force posture in Japan, relocating Marines to Guam and reducing our footprint on Okinawa while maintaining the personnel and capabilities needed to keep Japan and the region secure. We appreciate the government of Japan's continued commitment to this project.

Yesterday, I confirmed with Prime Minister Abe that the United States will return almost 10,000 acres of land in the Okinawa Northern Training Area to Japan by the end of this month. That's the largest U.S. land return here since 1972.

We're improving our ability to operate together. As the minister noted and as I saw yesterday when I visited the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force's helicopter destroyer ship, JS Izumo, which is a tremendous platform for Japan's work with American forces in the region and beyond and which participated in Keen Sword exercise, the unprecedented exercise that Minister Inada referred to a few moments ago.

And finally, the United States and Japan are also partnering with other friends and allies in the region to help catalyze the blossoming principle that inclusive security network here in the Asia-Pacific. One aspect of this is how our alliance is part of several important trilateral mechanisms. The United States and Japan, together with Australia, as well as with the Republic of Korea and also with India, where I'll travel next. These growing trilateral partnerships will help us partner together to provide security from one end of the region to the other.

The U.S.-Japan-Korea trilateral relationship is a perfect example of that kind of growing cooperation. Just last month, our three countries held our second ever trilateral ballistic missile defense warning exercise, and our partnership will certainly benefit from the bilateral intelligence sharing agreement that Japan and Korea recently signed.

Let me close by saying that it's a testament to the strength of our alliance and to the character of the Japanese and the American people that a mere 75 years after Pearl Harbor, my friend and counterpart, Minister Inada, and I can stand next to each other proudly and discuss how our two countries can strengthen the security of this region together.

And in the coming hours, as Americans will remember those we lost on that day long ago in history, we also reflect on how the United States and Japan have come together in the decades since to build one of the world's most enduring alliances. That's truly remarkable.

Out of the depths of World War II, our nations have forged a common bond based on shared values, mutual interests and a joint vision for a stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific. And today, our robust alliance and our friendship demonstrate to the region and the world what can be accomplished when you not only share the hope for a principled and inclusive future, but also stand together to realize it.

Minister Inada, I'm proud to stand with you and with Japanese allies to help preserve stability in the Asia-Pacific, address challenges around the globe and make the world a better place for our children on this day, every day and long into the future. Thank you.

STAFF (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Next, I would like to proceed to the Q&A.

In the interest of time, we will limit to two questions each from the Japanese and U.S. press. Those of you who have questions, please raise your hand. Wait until you are recognized. Once you are recognized, please come up to the microphone up front, state your name and affiliation and then ask your question. Also, after you've completed your question, please return to your seat.

We will begin with the Japanese press. The first question please -- (inaudible).

Q (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): My name is Akiama from (inaudible) Newspaper.

First, Secretary Carter. Next year, the Trump administration will come to office and Mr. Mattis is due to become the next defense secretary. What are you think -- when it comes to the U.S.-Japan alliance and Okinawa, how will you hand over the responsibility to the incoming secretary?

Also, to Minister Inada, the U.S. government will change into Trump administration, but what kind of talks will you hold with the new administration to deepen and develop the alliance between Japan and the United States?

SEC. CARTER: Thank you. I mean, first of all, I -- I know Jim Mattis very well. I've known him for many years and I've -- as I've said, I have a very high regard for him. And I am committed to an orderly handover of responsibilities in the Department of Defense so that my successor can hit the ground running. We have been doing that for 240 years in the United States. I'm confident that we'll be successful in that regard and I'm committed to it.

And with respect to our alliance here, American interests in this region are enduring and our alliance provides many benefits to both of our sides. For us in the United States, we share many interests in this region with Japan, including the need to defend ourselves against threats like North Korea. And we have in Japan a partner with very strong military capabilities who shares our concern and need to confront those threats, and a strong capability to do that.

And also to work with us around the world. I mentioned Afghanistan earlier -- peacekeeping. And it's important to have allies that have that kind of capability. Japan also provides the United States with forward basing in the region, which makes our forces more effective and allows them to respond rapidly to contingencies here. That's a benefit to us. Japan makes a very strong financial contribution to the U.S. presence here.

And then probably above all, we share important values about what's important for peace and security; what's important in human life, and our general interest in an inclusive and peaceful security system here in the Asia-Pacific.

So, America has a strong interest in a strong alliance here, and as I said earlier, the U.S.-Japan alliance has never been stronger than it is right now.

MIN. INADA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Yes, the security environment surrounding Japan is very challenging, and I am always saying that -- is that we ourselves in Japan, we have to try to strengthen our defense capability both in terms of quality and quantity.

We also have to deepen and strengthen our alliance with the United States. And also we have to build relations with other countries which are involved. I have been always saying these three things. And the U.S.-Japan alliance -- strengthening this alliance and the effort to strengthen our alliance is something that we have to constantly continue to do. We should never stop this effort.

As Secretary Carter has mentioned, our alliance is important not only for Japan's security, but also from Asia-Pacific, as well as the world's peace and security. It's a public good. And U.S. and Japan, both sides, will benefit from this alliance, as was said. Now, under the Trump administration, we want to emphasize that this alliance is important for both countries, as well as for the Asia-Pacific and the world.

And we believe that this will be the case. And based on these principles, and also sharing -- (inaudible)--, we would like to ensure the rule of law be upheld. To -- in order to achieve this we have to make sure that the alliance is enduring. And under the new administration, we would like to further strengthen and deepen our alliance.

PETER COOK: (inaudible) -- from the U.S. side from Bob Burns of the Associated Press.

Q: Thank you, Peter. Bob Burns with AP. I have a question for each of you, starting with Minister Inada.

Given President-elect Trump's statements about the U.S.-Japan alliance and what he has characterized as an alliance that's out of balance in terms of cost-benefit, is Japan prepared to pay 100 percent of the cost of hosting U.S. forces here? And what do you think of his suggestion that Japan develop its own nuclear deterrent force instead of relying on the U.S. nuclear umbrella?

And if I may ask Secretary Carter a question as well. In your meeting with the minister and Prime Minister Abe also, what sort of transition-related concerns did you hear? And also, I wonder how it is that you can offer credible assurances here about the continuity of U.S. policy toward Japan, given that you'll be giving way soon to an administration whose guiding slogan has been "America first"?

Thank you.

MIN. INADA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Well, let me try to answer first to your question.

Yes, President-elect Trump during his campaign has been stating at various occasions that in regards to Japan, –that sort of thing that you have just described. And here in Japan, there is a strong -- a great deal of interest amongst the Japanese.

But President-elect Trump ever since he has been elected, he has been talking about importance of alliance and the need to have close relations to deepen and strengthen alliance between Japan and the United States. Once he takes office and becomes president, what policies he will be implementing towards Japan, we'll have to be careful. And therefore, it is not appropriate to comment on that today.

But having said that, the alliance between Japan and the United States and the enhancing the capability of alliance and strengthening alliance is something that we have to think about. Not from a financial perspective, but instead we have to think of strengthening alliance from capability perspective. I think discussions should focus on capability enhancement.

And in regards to the nuclear question that you asked, Japan in the world is the only country which has experienced atomic bombing, and we know the tragedy that has been brought about from this experience. We have communicated this message to the world. We have the three non-nuclear principles, and also we are making effort to realize a world without nuclear weapons. This will remain unchanged.

SEC. CARTER: And -- (inaudible) -- my part, obviously I cannot speak for the administration that will come into power in the United States. The United States has important interests in this region. And therefore, because many of those interests are shared with Japan, we have a common interest in strengthening the capabilities of the alliance.

Just to speak about Japan's capabilities, the -- Japan has an excellent military, as you've witnessed, because you've traveled with me to visit one of their amphibious ships yesterday.

Under the new guidelines that have been concluded over the last year, moreover, Japan has -- is able to take on more responsibilities both in the region and the world. And I think that's important to note.

It's also the case that the basing arrangements that we have here, when we were talking about some of the details of those earlier, are, as I mentioned, ones that help U.S. forces to be more effective in this region and respond more quickly to contingencies in this -- in this region. So, there are very significant military advantages to the United States in pursuing these joint interests to -- to our alliance.

And then, of course, we share common interests and values. It's very important to stick up for things like freedom of navigation in this region, and freedom from coercion. And these are areas that we also have a shared vision. So shared capabilities, shared visions make us stronger in pursuing our interests as the United States.

With respect to the nuclear umbrella, the second part of your question, Bob. Here, as in our other alliances in the region, the entirety of the U.S. military capability is brought to bear in our commitment to our allies. And that includes a nuclear umbrella. And as you know, we're taking steps to ensure that those capabilities are safe, secure and reliable very far into the future.

STAFF: Next from the Japanese press, Mr. Ikiyama please.

Q (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): My name is Ikiyama -- (inaudible) -- newspaper. To both ministers, I would like to ask this question.

In April, there was the killing of a woman in Okinawa. And in response, an agreement was reached in July to review the civilian component SOFA -- and to enhance training of U.S. military and civilian personnel. –In several months' time it said that the details will be worked out, as I recall.

In today's talks, to what extent will you be able to discuss the details?

MIN. INADA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): In April in Okinawa, there was the killing of a woman by a U.S. military civilian personnel. It was an outraging incident. But in July, it was agreed that preventive measures would be taken. At the same time, a review will be conducted as to the civilian component in SOFA. We had made a joint announcement that this review will be conducted.

Your question is about the status quo. Now, based on this joint announcement, there is specific measures being worked out. We are planning to announce these details. And both governments are sharing this information. Today at my meeting with Secretary Carter, we said that we will instruct our officials to continue this work.

Now, as for the content that we discussed at this meeting, I will refrain from making any specific comments. But the -- –we will make clear the scope of the SOFA status and those to be covered by the SOFA.

SEC. CARTER: Thank you.

First of all, let me say with respect the incident itself, it was, as the minister has said, not just regrettable but outrageous and we need and we are committed to taking steps to make sure that heinous crimes like this can't occur again. And that is a commitment that the minister and I made when she first visited in Washington and we're working through the details of that. I'm confident we'll be able to do so and we'll be able to conclude those arrangements in the near future.

And we did discuss that today and our teams are continuing to move forward on working out the details. So it was a very positive conversation today, as last time when we talked about it. And I appreciate it, Madam Minister.

STAFF: The final question from the U.S. side comes from -- (inaudible) -- of Kyodo News.

Q: Thank you, Secretary Carter and Minister Inada. I want to ask Secretary Carter and Minister Inada about nuclear –deterrence to North Korea.

Do you -- Secretary Carter, do you support to adopt -- (inaudible) -- policy to deter North Korea?

And to -- this is to Minister Inada. So --

Q (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): About the introduction of THAAD from the United States, are you considering starting talks and cooperating with the United States?

SEC. CARTER: Well, first, is -- with respect to extended deterrence, as I said just a moment ago, our commitment to extend deterrence via the nuclear umbrella to our ally in alliance circumstances is unchanged and we are continuing to build the capabilities to go along with that continuing extended deterrent.

And that is important in -- in a number of respects, but one in particular, in the respect that you just -- you cited, namely to deter aggression from North Korea, which is an interest we strongly share, and therefore, and interest of the alliance. So the nuclear umbrella will -- will continue.

And I don't know whether you wanted me to say something about THAAD or is that -- I'm happy something to say something about THAAD. That is an alliance decision of the -- as any such decision would be. And as we talk about future capabilities, we'll talk about all kinds of capabilities. But again, these are kind -- these are the kind of decisions that, like everything else we do, we do as an alliance.

MIN. INADA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): First of all, in regards to nuclear, in order to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, our country will continue to play an active role in order to achieve this.

But in reality, while they exist, nuclear weapons on this Earth -- (inaudible) -- nuclear deterrence strategy. With this, we will continue to rely on the extended defense of the United States, and for this, we will continue to have close collaboration and cooperation between our two countries.

In regards to THAAD, as you've asked, well the security environment surrounding our country, in particular ballistic missile -- in regards to ballistic missiles, since the beginning of this year, we have seen more than 20 missiles being launched in the borders near Japan. So if we look at this situation -- and including new equipment is the -- (inaudible) -- various measures and we are demanding budget for this for the next fiscal year.

And we have to think about how we can cope with such ballistic missiles and how we can enhance our capability to address ballistic missiles, and one of the measures is to introduce new equipment which will be considered.

STAFF: With this, it's time for us to end. With this, we'd like to conclude the joint press conference. Please wait until the minister and secretary --


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