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Remarks by Deputy Secretary Work and Japanese Parliamentary Senior Vice Minister of Defense Takeda in a Press Conference in Tokyo, Japan

Presenters: Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work and Japanese Parliamentary Senior Vice Minister of Defense Ryota Takeda
August 22, 2014

JAPANESE PARLIAMENTARY SENIOR VICE MINISTER OF DEFENSE RYOTA TAKEDA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I am pleased that at this time Deputy Secretary Work is visiting Japan, which is the last leg of his first trip to Asia after assuming office, and he has had a meeting with us at the Defense Ministry.

First, I explained in the meeting a cabinet decision regarding development of new security legislation last month and progress of security policy under the Abe administration.

Deputy Secretary Work welcomed this effort by Japan. We agreed that we will continue to seek close coordination of the bilateral forces to further enhance the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Next, we will exchange views on revision of the red lines. I agreed with Deputy Secretary Work that toward development of a mutual report on the revision, Japan and the United States will continue discussion between the two countries.

Furthermore, we exchanged views on mitigation of impact on Okinawa. First, Deputy Secretary Work and I welcomed recent progress on the construction project of Futenma replacement facility, and reconfirmed our commitment to completion of the construction of replacement facility at Camp Schwab.

Next, Deputy Secretary and I confirmed that Japan and the United States will closely work together to advance concrete cooperation regarding impact mitigation on Okinawa. We emphasized significance of MV-22s Ospreys training outside Okinawa and the importance of safe military operations in Japan.

Deputy Secretary Work affirmed that the United States is committed to exploring ways to reduce the impact of the U.S. presence in Okinawa.

With an increasingly severe regional security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, we reconfirmed that the Japan-U.S. alliance will continue to play an important role to ensure security of Japan as well as peace and stability in the region.

Based on the results of today's talks, we will continue to make efforts to further solidify the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Thank you.

LT. CMDR. COURTNEY HILLSON: Deputy Secretary Work will now make a statement.

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE BOB WORK: Good afternoon. Thank you all for joining us this afternoon.

First of all, I'd like to express my deepest condolences and those of Secretary Hagel's and the entire American people to the families who lost their loved ones in the mudslide in Hiroshima. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who have been impacted by this awful tragedy.

It has been a very, very big pleasure for me to be here in Japan and to be able to meet today with Vice Minister Takeda. We had a very productive and positive meeting. And I look forward later today to meeting with Vice Minister Kishi and tomorrow with Minister of Defense Onodera.

Both Vice Minister Takeda and I agree that the U.S.-Japan alliance continues to be strong. We believe it's the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and a critical part of the U.S. rebalance to this region.

The Asia-Pacific rebalance, and particularly our alliances and partnerships, are the highest priority for President Obama and Secretary Hagel, myself and the entire Department of Defense.

Shortly after I took this position, Secretary Hagel asked me to lead the implementation of our posture enhancements throughout Asia. And to that end, I've just completed visits to Guam and South Korea, where I saw first-hand the significant progress that has been made to bolster U.S. force posture in the Asia-Pacific region.

In Guam, I saw many of the Japanese-funded projects that are helping us to build new infrastructure there, to facilitate the relocation of Marines from Okinawa, and to continue to transform the island to an important strategic hub for the Asia-Pacific.

In my meeting with Vice Minister Takeda, I emphasized the central role that Japan plays in our rebalance and the significant progress that we have made to transform our alliance and realign U.S. forces in Japan so that together we can more effectively address emerging security challenges.

To that end, Vice Minister Takeda and I discussed the revision of the bilateral defense guidelines, which are critical to our efforts to build a more balanced and effective alliance.

We strongly welcome Japan's recent cabinet decision permitting collective self-defense, which should enable an ambitious and substantive revision to the guidelines that allows Japan to play a larger role in our alliance and to contribute to regional and global security.

We also discussed the significant progress that has been made in realigning U.S. forces in Japan so that we can establish a force posture that is geographically distributed throughout the region, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable over the long term.

Tomorrow, I have the opportunity to visit the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni and there I think I will witness much of the progress first-hand, including the recent relocation of KC-130 refueling aircraft from Okinawa and the projects that are under way there to facilitate the relocation of Carrier Air Wing 5 from Tokyo area in 2017.

Iwakuni is a critical component of our realignment and the progress we have made there is nothing short of astonishing to me. I think you know I was the undersecretary of the Navy in 2009 to 2013 and the progress we have made since then is very gratifying.

I also expressed my appreciation for Japan's efforts to move forward on the construction of the Futenma replacement facility airfield. This is a major accomplishment that opens the way for us to make substantial progress in the realignment of U.S. forces on Okinawa.

Over the next several years, we will deploy a number of advanced U.S. capabilities to Japan to enhance our posture and to maintain regional deterrence, including the first overseas deployment of the Marine Corps F-35 in 2017. We have also made rapid progress in constructing the second TPY-2 radar site, which will be completed by the end of this year.

We appreciate very, very much Japan's strong support and close coordination during this entire progress.

The U.S. Navy is also moving forward with the plans -- with plans to deploy two additional ballistic missile defense ships in Yokosuka by 2017, which will greatly enhance our alliance ballistic missile defense capabilities.

We also welcome Japan's new arms export policy and the passage of the Secrets Protection Act, both of which we believe will enhance defense industrial cooperation with the United States and other partner regions -- nations in the region, especially Australia. This will lead to lower costs, we believe, better capabilities, and enhanced operational cooperation, that would promote security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

The United States cannot stress more its appreciation for Japan's important role as a contributor to peace and prosperity in this important region and the rest of the world. And we are steadfast in our commitment to Japan's security.

I very much look forward to working with Minister Takeda in the coming months as we further deepen this very important alliance.

Thank you.

STAFF (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Next, I would like to move on to questions by representatives of the press. Due to time constraints, we will take two questions each from Japan and the U.S.

Those who ask questions, would you come forward to the microphone and present your name and organization before the question? And first, we would like to take a question from the Japanese side.

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): (inaudible) with NHK. Thank you.

I would like to ask this question to both the two ministers.

First about the relocation of Futenma Air Station of the U.S. forces, you said that you had an exchange of views on this.

Once again, Mr. Work, with respect to the progress of the construction, what is your assessment?

And also, Minister Takeda, what's your view on his assessment?

And also, with respect to the mitigation of the impact on Okinawa, the government of Japan is going to deploy the Osprey in Saga Airport to be introduced – (inaudible) -- and asking the U.S. Marines to use Saga Airport. And what sort of cooperation did you seek from the U.S.?

And, Mr. Work, with respect to Saga Airport, what's your view on the use for exercise of the airport and interim deployment of the units?

And lastly, I have a question about the revision of the guidelines, the timing of the revision, or the interim report and also this is going to play an important role for the two countries.

And now, Deputy Secretary Work, what sort of role are you expecting from the Japanese side?

Thank you.

STAFF (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): First, Mr. Takeda, please.

VICE MIN. TAKEDA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): First, with respect to the impact mitigation Okinawa, the deputy secretary and I reconfirmed agreement to the relocation of Futenma to Camp Schwab. And I explained recent progress on the construction project of Futenma replacement facility.

I was just saying with Deputy Secretary Work that both Japan and the United States welcome such progress.

Next, with respect to mitigation of impact of the bases in Okinawa, in this meeting we had a very broad exchange of views. Regarding the Marine Corps' use of Saga Airport, this was indeed part of our discussion items. But beyond this I would like refrain from giving you further answers since we are still at the stage of adjustment with the local government as well as the United States.

Also regarding the revision of the guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation, Deputy Secretary Work and I agreed to continue bilateral discussion for the development of interim report on its revision.

Q (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Thank you.

MR. WORK: To the first question, about progress on Okinawa and the Futenma replacement facility, as I said, I was the undersecretary of the Navy between 2009 and 2013. And we had many, many challenges in moving forward on the Futenma replacement facility.

So as I come into this job as the deputy secretary, I'm very, very excited and I'm very, very gratified with the progress that has been made. The signing of the environmental impact statement; the signing of the landfill agreement, and the recent starting of boring in the bay up near Hanoko are all signs of tangible progress towards the Futenma replacement facility. And personally, I'm extremely excited about how that is going.

Closely linked to that, of course, are the -- is the Marine buildup on Guam, which would allow us to relocate Marines off of Okinawa and is tightly related to the Futenma replacement facility. And having just come back from Guam, I can tell you that the momentum of the construction and the momentum of the move there is really starting to pick up.

So overall, I'm extremely, extremely enthusiastic about the direction of things.

As far as the relocation of -- or the Saga Airport issue, I'd like to refrain from going in to the specifics also, as Minister Takeda said.

But as confirmed in our two-plus-two agreement in 2013, the Futenma replacement facility is the only solution that avoids the continued use of Marine Corps Air Force Station Futenma. And because of that, that is why I'm so excited about the progress.

As a general principle, I committed to Vice Minister Takeda that we will explore all mitigation impacts, and we will continue to do so. But the long-term solution is the Futenma replacement facility and I'm so very happy with the progress that we have been made -- made in that regard.

As far as the defense guidelines go, this doesn't happen very often. The last time we revised the defense guidelines were in 1997. So we believe that this is an inflection point for our alliance: that by taking the time and doing the -- by doing a good job on the defense guidelines, we will strengthen an alliance that already is the cornerstone of our security arrangements in the Asia-Pacific region. And we believe it will lead over the long term to a safe, prosperous and secure Asia-Pacific region.

LT. CMDR. HILLSON: Now we will take a question from Associated Press.

Q: Maria Naguchi of the Associated Press.

And I would like to ask both Vice Minister Takeda and Deputy Minister Work, how does Japan's recent changes in defense policies to play -- to be able to play a greater -- a different role internationally -- how does it affect U.S. and Japanese security policies in the region, particularly in relations to Japan-U.S. bilateral alliance? And also, one including trilateral framework, including South Korea, for instance in the area of missile defense and other strategies?

Thank you.

LT. CMDR. HILLSON: Mr. Work, please?

MR. WORK: Well, first of all, the U.S. government welcomes the collective self-defense initiatives started by the government of Japan.

As I said, from our perspective, the rebalance to Asia, from the United States' perspective, is all about creating a safe, secure and prosperous Asia-Pacific region.

A lot of people seem to think that is all about military instruments, but it's not. It's about strengthening our alliances, so that we maintain peace and security in the region. And it's about prospering -- I mean, prosperity throughout the region, which is why the Trans-Pacific Partnership is so important as part of the rebalance.

So the fact that the collective self-defense has been debated and been approved here in Japan, leading to a renegotiation or a relook at the guidelines is -- what we believe is really going to provide security for the region for a long time.

As I told the vice minister, I think 10 years from now people will look back to this very time and say this was one of the signature things that allowed peace and prosperity and a secure Asia-Pacific region to grow and thrive.

In terms of the trilateral aspect, there's another alliance that we very much value, and that is the alliance with South Korea. Both of our -- these alliances help maintain peace and security in Northeast Asia and throughout the region.

The more that we can exchange information among our three countries, the better it is for both of our alliances and for peace and prosperity in the region.

So we welcome all different types of ways to further this trilateral discussion, and we think ballistic missile defense is a very, very good place to start because of the common threat that we face, specifically from North Korea.

STAFF (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Takeda?

VICE MIN. TAKEDA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): With respect to the changes to the -- the security policy of Japan, the security environment so far Japan is getting more severe. Of course, we have to adjust ourselves to that and that requires a change to our security policy.

In the Asia-Pacific region, we have to realize the peace and stability of the region to do this. And needless to say, we have to strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance further. That's going to be the most important point.

We have to establish a trusting relationship and also have to share information in many areas, not just the details of Japan alone, but as Japan-U.S. alliance, we have to also add the details. And with that alone, I think we can secure peace and stability of this region.

Now today, with Deputy Secretary Work, we had discussion (of various fields. With respect to the security policy of Japan, we appreciated it very much. And regarding the Futenma issue and Okinawa impact -- the mitigation issue, I think we had broad exchanges of views today.

Broadly speaking, going forward, furthermore, we have to closely coordinate ourselves, including the related countries. And we have to join hands to -- well, make a greater contribution to peace and stability of this region.

I think that's our shared view.

STAFF (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Now, with this, we'd like to conclude the joint press conference.

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