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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
June 03, 2003

(Media availability at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.  Also participating was U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard H. Baker, Jr.)

 

     Baker: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome.  We are pleased to have you here.  This is a great occasion.  We're especially proud to welcome Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz.  While here, he's met with U.S. officials and Japanese Government officials to discuss many issues of common interest.  On this trip to Asia, he has also attended the Defense Minister's Conference in Singapore last weekend and visited Seoul to meet with Korean officials.  He will return to Washington after his brief stop here in Tokyo.  Dr. Wolfowitz has extensive experience both in the Asia Pacific region and in government, both the Defense and State Departments.  He has impressive academic credentials, having authored many books and having been a professor at Yale and the National War College and most recently as Dean and Professor of International Relations at SAIS.  From 1989 to 1993, he was Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and he was U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia for three years during the Reagan Administration.  Prior to that he also served as the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.  We are pleased to have the Secretary here and it's my honor to now present Secretary Wolfowitz.  Paul.

 

     Wolfowitz:  Thank you Mr. Ambassador.  I was just reflecting on the fact that my first official visit to Japan was a little more than twenty years ago.  Mike Mansfield, that great man, was the Ambassador; George Schultz, whom I was accompanying, was the Secretary of State; Ronald Reagan was President of the United States; Yasuhiro Nakasone was the Prime Minister of Japan.  It was an unusually good period in U.S.-Japan relations.  In fact I probably would have been impertinent enough to think that it couldn't get any better.  Well, twenty years later, it keeps getting better and it's remarkable -- and Ambassador Baker, we're grateful for your service and it's terrific to have you here.  The leaders of both our two countries are outstanding men and have forged a remarkably close relationship.

 

     But the most important thing I think is the relationship between our two countries, which seems to be getting stronger and stronger every year.  I learned years ago working on this relationship that, if it seemed at times change was slow, one should be grateful because change was always positive; it never went backwards.  And so when you accumulate even small positive changes over a period of twenty years, it makes a remarkable difference.  I have been very pleased with my visit here  -- yesterday, this morning's meeting with the Embassy team --  at how strong the defense relationship is, and it keeps getting stronger.  We have a way of dealing with issues and solving problems.  It's a great relationship where instead of creating problems you keep solving them and it's heartening.  I think underlying it all is a remarkably strong relationship between the Japanese people and the American people that's based on strong common interests in peace, security, and democracy in the Asia Pacific region, particularly in Northeast Asia.

 

     I was very encouraged to read the results of a Jiji Poll (and other polls) taken in May that showed that 70% of Japanese say the United States is the most important country to Japan, that 75% of Japanese favor the Bilateral Security Treaty with only 14% opposed.  Another poll says that 66% of Japanese believe that U.S. bases in Japan are needed for regional security -- up ten points since last year.  And perhaps most encouraging of all, given the challenges that we face in the Middle East today, that 84% of Japanese people believe that the Government of Japan should support Iraqi reconstruction.

 

     I think the mass graves that are uncovered every day in Iraq are horrible testimony to the fact that Saddam Hussein is probably responsible for the deaths of more Muslims than perhaps any other individual in history, and I think it's testimony to the wisdom and courage of Prime Minister Koizumi in supporting President Bush in the coalition that liberated Iraq.  Having been liberated, there's a great deal of work to do to build a new and free Iraq and we welcome Japan's support, as in so many other ventures -- to have the world's first and second largest economies working in close partnership as close treaty allies is, I think, a firm foundation for peace and security.  Not just in the Pacific Region, but worldwide.  I'll be happy to take some questions.

 

     Q:  I'm Satoru Suzuki with TV-Asahi of Japan.  Mr. Secretary, eleven weeks have passed since the coalition forces moved into Iraq.  Yet you've found no weapons of mass destruction in that country -- no convincing evidence yet.  Given that, are you still convinced that you'll be able to find such weapons eventually and, in the absence of such weapons, how can you still justify the war, and what would you say to those critics in Japan and the rest of the world who've been saying that the war was mainly about oil? 

 

     Wolfowitz:  Well, let me start with the last part.  The notion that the war was ever about oil is a complete piece of nonsense.  If the United States had been interested in Iraq's oil, it would have been very simple 12 years ago or any time in the last 12 years to simply do a deal with Saddam Hussein.  We probably could have had any kind of preferred customer status we wanted if we'd been simply willing to drop our real concerns.  Our real concerns focused on the threat posed by that country -- not only its weapons of mass destruction, but also its support for terrorism and, most importantly, the link between those two things.  You said it's eleven weeks since our troops first crossed the Kuwaiti border, and coalition troops first entered Iraq, as though eleven weeks were a long time.  Eleven weeks is a very short time.  In fact, unfortunately, significant elements of the old regime are still out there shooting at Americans, killing Americans, threatening Iraqis.  It is not yet a secure situation and I believe that probably influences to some extent the willingness of Iraqis to speak freely to us.

 

     We -- as the whole world knows -- have in fact found some significant evidence to confirm exactly what Secretary Powell said when he spoke to the United Nations about the development of mobile biological weapons production facilities that would seem to confirm fairly precisely the information we received from several defectors, one in particular who described the program in some detail.  But I wouldn't suggest we've gotten to the bottom of the whole story yet.  We said, when Resolution 1441 was being adopted, that the most important thing was to have free and unintimidated access to Iraqis who know where these things are.  Simply going and searching door to door in a country the size of the state of California is not the way you would find things.  You would find things when people start to give you information -- we're still in an early stage of that process and there is no question we will get to the bottom of what's there. 

 

     But there should be no doubt whatsoever this was a war undertaken because our President and the Prime Minister of England and the other countries that joined with us believe -- and I think they believe correctly -- that this regime was a threat to our security and a threat that we could no longer live with.  It is also the case that, beyond a shadow of any doubt whatsoever, this regime was a horrible abuser of its own people and that there is no question the Iraqi people are far better off with that regime gone. 

 

     Q:  Howard French from the New York Times.  You've just been in Seoul and over the last couple of weeks; the South Korean Government has expressed the desire that any change in the Second Infantry Division await a resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem.  I wonder if you have been able to work that question of timing out to the satisfaction of both sides.  And I also noted in press reports about your visit to South Korea, that there was talk which seemed to come from unnamed members of your delegation about potential war plans that could involve going after the North Korean leadership in Pyongyang or somewhere inside North Korea, as opposed to focusing on fighting around the DMZ.  Are there any such plans?  Have things developed to that degree, and have North Korean war fighting plans been inspired or refined in light of the Iraq war experience?

 

     Wolfowitz:  We don't discuss military plans, for good operational reasons.  I can assure you that I didn't see these press reports but, if they are as you describe them, they certainly didn't come from me or anybody in my party.  Let me say importantly what we're talking about, in terms of the future of the alliance study that we're undertaking with our Korean allies, is how best to enhance and shape and align our forces and the forces of our Korean allies to most effectively provide for deterrence of a North Korean attack and the defense of Korea should an attack come.  It's not something that should wait until the nuclear problem is solved, as though somehow it's going to weaken our posture.  To the contrary, it's part of an effort to strengthen our overall posture in the peninsula including, as General LaPorte announced last week, a very substantial investment by the United States in some 150 systems that will enhance our ability to provide for early defense against a North Korean attack. 

 

     In shortest terms, I would say the North Koreans have certain advantages over us -- asymmetric advantages -- which they continue to press.  We have some considerable advantages as well; particularly advantages that accrue from the kinds of remarkable military capabilities that the world has just seen demonstrated in Afghanistan and Iraq.  We think that it's very important that we update our force posture from where it was ten years ago, to take advantage of those capabilities so that we can counter a North Korean attack more quickly and more effectively, so we can strengthen deterrence.  That's what it's about.  The issue of timing, I think, should relate to when our two countries have adequately consulted about the changes, have come to a reasonable level of mutual agreement about the changes, and importantly have educated both of our publics about what it's all about.  My visit there was part of trying to begin that process of public education, and I think that we have active partners in our allies in Korea doing that.

 

     Q: I'm Mr. Mori from Ryukyu Shimpo.  At the Japan-U.S.  Summit meeting Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush agreed to cut down forces in Okinawa; however, the Deputy Secretary, with regards to an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times said that it was speculative in nature -- it included speculative factors at this stage -- in order to alleviate some of the burden in Okinawa.  Are you thinking in some measures of alleviating the burden that is on Okinawa now?  I'm asking just about the possibility. 

 

     Wolfowitz:  Thank you for the question.  It's a chance to clarify.  The specific suggestion which I said had no foundation was the suggestion that we were going to move our Marines from Okinawa to Australia.  I know of no such plan or proposal to do that; however, we have undertaken jointly with the government of Japan a Defense Policy Review Initiative to look at our posture here in Japan.  Clearly, one of the most important issues on that agenda is how to manage our deployments in Okinawa and align our deployments in Okinawa to minimize the not inconsiderable burden that those deployments place on the people of Okinawa. 

 

     I'd like to emphasize that it's not unique to the people of Okinawa.  People in Florida and Oklahoma and Germany and Kuwait -- I could make a long list of States in the United States and countries around the world who host U.S. forces, who have some burdens, but also I think some benefits, from having us around.  We make every effort worldwide, and very strenuously in Okinawa, to be good neighbors and we want to continue improving our record as good neighbors and we are always prepared to look at adjustments that can be made that will reduce that burden, but it is in that context, not in some more spectacular kind of moving forces from one country to another country, that we are looking at the posture here.

 

     Q:  Hello, I am Hans Greimel with Associated Press.  Can you tell us a little about what the United States is doing with Japan in terms of a missile defense system for the archipelago here?  Can you give us an idea of time lines for implementing one?  What kind of technology will be used? Is it PAC-3 technology?  What kind of locations are being considered?  Who's expected to pay for that?

 

     Wolfowitz:  I can only answer in general terms, because that is still the state of decisions, and the most important decisions right now are ones that the Japanese have to make to what they want to do in the area of missile defense, how much they want to invest, and what kinds of systems they want to invest in.  The head of our Missile Defense Agency, Lieutenant General Ron Kadish, will be coming here later this month to discuss technical aspects with the Government of Japan.  I think one of the important timelines coming up will be their next defense budget and whether they want to include some provision for missile defense development in that next budget. 

 

     We would certainly welcome the participation of Japan in missile defense if they judge that it's helpful for Japan's security, because we think that missile defense is a very important area for the future in having Japan's technology and Japan's resources apply to the challenge of protecting people from missile attack.  I think would be a very helpful thing.  We've seen in the recent war in the Persian Gulf just how important it was to have effective missile defenses, to save lives on a considerable scale.  It can be done and, if the Japanese Government decides that it wants to invest in that area, we are certainly ready to work with them. 

 

     Q:  Mr. Takahata from Mainichi Shimbun:  Welcome to Japan, Mr. Secretary.

 

     Wolfowitz:  It's always nice to be here.

 

     Q:  My question is about an idea put forth by Mr. President Bush during his trip to Europe, which is a new idea about a counter-proliferation regime done multilaterally.  Can you elaborate as to what kinds of specific measures will be included in this new regime or new idea, like ship inspections, naval blockade, confiscation of goods and cargos?  How soon do you want this regime to be put in practice -- especially in relation to threat from North Korean and Iran?  Thank you.

 

     Wolfowitz:  I don't want to reveal my own ignorance or trample upon State Department territory by getting into details that I think we are still working on with our partners, starting with our G-8 partners.  The idea's a very clear one -- that this traffic in dangerous weapons and dangerous technologies is a major concern of the whole world.  I served in 1998 on the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission that was chaired by my current boss Don Rumsfeld, and a group of nine of us with varied backgrounds -- five Republicans, four Democrats --  had completely different views on the subject of missile defense, but we came to a unanimous agreement on the nature of the threat. 

 

     I think the thing that struck most of us is the thing that had changed so much, over what might have been the case a decade earlier, was the degree to which rogue regimes, or whatever term you want to use for them, proliferators may be the best word, were prepared to trade dangerous materials with one another.  The seemingly old ground rule that once a country joined the club they seemed to stop sharing these technologies with the other countries was no longer the case.  So, trying to bring that dangerous traffic under control, I think, is a challenge for the international community. 

 

     I believe the purpose of the President's initiative in Evian was to encourage our major partners to start thinking about the answers to the very questions that you raise, but that process has to start by defining the problem, and that is what the President did.

 

     Q:  Mitsuru Obe from Jiji News Agency.  What's the overall U.S. strategy behind this ongoing realignment of U.S. forces?  The war on terror must be won, but are Asian countries now asked to take more responsibility for their own security?

 

     Wolfowitz:  I think it has been a principle of U.S. defense policy for decades -- throughout the world and particularly with our major allies in Europe and in East Asia -- of encouraging our allies to take as much responsibility as possible.  One of the real pleasures about working in this part of the world, particularly with Japan and with Korea, is that we have two countries that have steadily done more and more of their own share of the alliance burden. That makes it frankly much easier for us to sustain our role, because Americans understandably ask, 'why should we be doing so much if our allies don't carry their load?'  So that's not a new principle, it's an ongoing thing. 

 

     What I think is perhaps new in the worldwide look of our deployments is that September 11 brought home dramatically something that was noticeable before September 11, and that is the great unpredictability of where threats can come from.  During the Cold War, we had a reasonably clear idea of what the threat was, and almost down to the particular roads that Soviet armies might advance on in attacking Germany.  When the Berlin Wall came down, we re-structured our defense posture but still focused very much on two seemingly predictable scenarios -- one in Korea and the other one in the Persian Gulf.  September 11 has brought home that we need to be prepared to respond quickly to developments that might take place in very unpredictable locations. 

 

     Secondly, the capabilities that we have developed over the last ten or twenty years, that have been demonstrated with such impressive effect in Afghanistan and now again in Iraq, make it clear that you can achieve an effective military force at much greater distance than we could before and often with much smaller number of forces.  So that gives us an opportunity to deploy in new ways that will maximize the effect that we can get from our military resources, and that's I think the spirit with which we are looking at our deployments in Europe, in Northeast Asia, in East Asia more generally, and in the Persian Gulf as well.  Each of those cases is different.  In fact, each country is different. 

 

     In some respects, I would say we've been doing more of that with Japan already.  In many ways, our forces here probably come closer to being aligned in the right way to begin with, but there is always room for change.  I would say that, even though change often makes people uncomfortable, change is a positive thing if you do it the right way. 

 

     Thank you very much.