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DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
September 24, 1997 9:30 AM EDT

[This media activity follows an Honor Cordon welcoming Director General Fumio Kyuma of the Japan Defense Agency to the Pentagon.]

Secretary Cohen: I'm pleased to welcome Minister Kyuma to the Pentagon. Yesterday we had a very good meeting in New York along with Secretary Albright and Minister Obuchi.

Among other things, we celebrated the completion on the work on the new Guidelines for U.S. - Japan Defense Cooperation. Today we're going to discuss measures that we have to take to implement the Guidelines as soon as possible.

We have to reach an agreement on bilateral planning directives that will instruct our militaries to begin working together on details of future cooperation in times of peace and in times of crisis, and I'll be reviewing our progress when I visit Japan later in November.

As Minister Kyuma and I stressed yesterday, these new guidelines will revitalize our defense relationship; they will help the United States and Japan to work together even more closely in the interests of stability, peace and prosperity in the Asia - Pacific region.

Minister Kyuma: Yesterday Foreign Minister Obuchi and I along with Secretaries Albright and Cohen accepted and approved the final report on the Guidelines Review which is going to serve as the new guidelines for Japan - U.S. defense cooperation in the new era after the Cold War.

I have to say our work started yesterday, not ended yesterday. As Secretary Cohen pointed out, we have to promptly start the bilateral work under the new guidelines.

Now that the Guidelines Review is over, it is my sincere hope that our Japan - U.S. Security Defense Cooperation will stand on a solid ground.

When Secretary Cohen came to Japan last spring, we had a lot of rain, unfortunately, but it is my great pleasure that under nice skies we are able to discuss many issues regarding Japan - U.S. security relations.

We would like to have frank exchange of views on the issues including how we proceed with the central process and other related issues. It is my sincere hope that we're going to harvest a lot of things in the following discussions with Secretary Cohen.

Thank you very much.

Q: Minister Kyuma, might we ask you, that any expanded use of Japanese forces even under your constitution is very controversial in your country, is it not? And how quickly do you expect to move in forming firm plans for expanded Japanese military support and an Asian contingency?

Minister Kyuma: I would like to answer to the first one, first.

When we started the Guidelines Review last year, Japan and the U.S. agreed upon some premises, one of which is the Guideline Review is not going to alter the interpretation of the Japanese constitution. So I would see no problem of these new guidelines in relation with our Japanese constitution.

Regarding the second point, people tend to focus on our military role during contingencies, but if you go over these Guidelines, the Guidelines [is] serving for those situations under normal circumstances and also situations in areas surrounding Japan. So these Guidelines address those situations as well.

Q: Mr. Secretary, could we ask you, yesterday Mr. Berger spoke of the sense that the United States must remain engaged for some time to come in Bosnia. Do you believe that means and opens the door for an extended U.S. military presence there after June of next year?

Mr. Cohen: No, I think Mr. Berger's comments were quite clear. He said that we have made rather extraordinary progress during the past two years, that there is peace in Bosnia today that was not there two years ago, that the economy is starting to recover, buildings are starting to be rebuilt, farmers are starting to plow their fields and plant their crops, so there has been an enormous amount of progress that has been made in Bosnia and he felt it was important to take note of that.

Secondly, he pointed out as President Clinton did several weeks ago that the United States, along with our European friends, obviously have an interest in what takes place in Bosnia well into the future. But he went on to say, I think very clearly yesterday, that the international community has a long term interest in the future state of affairs in Bosnia and what role, if any, the United States will play in that international community's activities remains to be determined. So I think it's very clear that no decision has been made, that the SFOR mission will, in fact, end in June of '98, and that we will have to wait and see what takes place between now and next June. As I have said many times before, we have to concentrate our efforts between now and next June of '98 to see to it that the Dayton Accords are implemented.

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