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Secretary Rumsfeld Meets with Director General, Japan Defense Agency

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
June 23, 2001

Friday, June 22, 2001

(Media availability outside the Pentagon River Entrance with Director General of the Japan Defense Agency Gen Nakatani and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard H. Baker.)

Rumsfeld: We wanted to say hello to the press.

Minister Nakatani and I have just had lunch and a good visit. We've talked about the very strong relationship between our two countries and also our interest and desire to continue to cooperate very closely together with respect to regional security issues. We discussed the relationship we have and the cooperation with South Korea in dealing with Korean Peninsula issues. The minister received a briefing on missile defense. We discussed our common view of what the threat is and six or eight other issues. A very good lunch and very good meeting.

Nakatani: We had so many topics that we had, and the result was very satisfactory. Mr. Rumsfeld and I have a similar situation. Mr. Rumsfeld is doing his own comprehensive review. We in Japan are going to review our security policies after the Cold War.

This happens to be the 50th anniversary of our alliance and this is good opportunity to discuss these things.

I am 43 years old, which is about same year when Mr. Rumsfeld assumed his first position as Secretary of Defense. (Laughter) So I have in years felt a similarity in his [position here].

I have explained to Mr. Rumsfeld I am going to try to improve our relations (unintelligible).

Rumsfeld: I would say one other thing. I told the minister and his delegation that it's a sign of the high regard that our country has for his country that we've sent as our ambassador Howard Baker, former senator. He was there at the luncheon. He is a very distinguished American and we're just tickled pink that he agreed to accept that post.

Baker: Mr. Secretary, I am delighted to do that. I look forward to my time in Japan speaking for our government in Tokyo. And Mr. Minister, it's a pleasure to meet you and I look forward to working with you.

Rumsfeld: Howard Baker and I began the U.S./Japan Parliamentary Union back in the 1960s when we were members of the United States Congress together.

Baker: That's right. We were both the same age then we are -- (Laughter)

Q: Mr. Secretary, are you concerned about the deteriorating situation in Macedonia? And is there any chance that NATO or other troops will go in there if the situation deteriorates so badly the country would just fall apart?

Rumsfeld: The situation in Macedonia is, as you suggest, it's been up and down and thus far we've been of course very pleased that the government, the Albanian representatives in the government have maintained their position in the government. I think that's a very encouraging sign.

I know there have been discussions within NATO about what NATO might do in the event that a permissive environment happened to be created. That has not happened yet. So I think any question as to what NATO might do is well down the road.

Q: What about the escalation of violence there by the government side in the last 24 hours? Are you concerned about that?

Rumsfeld: Clearly any time there is violence in Macedonia it is worrisome. It's a difficult situation. I know that Secretary General of NATO Robertson as well as Mr. Solana are both involved. We have individuals there assisting from the Department of State representing Secretary Powell and the president. We are interested, we're concerned, and we are watching it carefully.

Q: Mr. Secretary, are you satisfied with the DoD IG report on the military balloting in the last election which did not look at, apparently, the key question of how the ballots were postmarked and whether they were postmarked as they were supposed to be? Are you satisfied with that review?

Rumsfeld: The review was initiated prior to my arrival here and its scope was what it was. And to the extent that its scope needs to be broadened, we will certainly take that under advisement. I have not had a chance to personally read the report.

Q: Can I just ask you on the question of military training, with the U.S. decision to abandon Vieques because the people there, in President Bush's words, don't want the U.S. there, was there any discussion in your meeting with the minister about future U.S. military exercises on Okinawa?

Rumsfeld: We discussed Okinawa at some length, and the commandant of the Marine Corps was there, and we had a very good discussion and we're very pleased with the progress that's being made there.

Q: Is there any desire by the government of Japan to cut back on the level of exercises there?

Rumsfeld: I can let the minister respond.

Nakatani: As you know, Mr. Tanaka, Japanese foreign minister, visited Secretary Powell and asked to consider cutting down on Marines exercising in Okinawa due to (inaudible) [relocating] overseas.

Today I came here to discuss these issues.

Rumsfeld: The United States Marine Corps has been adjusting its activities on Okinawa in a variety of ways over a period of years.

Q: The Japanese are requesting additional reductions beyond what was agreed to --

Rumsfeld: I have not seen what the foreign minister specifically said, but it has been a continuing discussion about various types of activities and kinds of activities, which is fairly typical all over the world where U.S. forces are present. There are continuing discussions that take place, but there's nothing notable or unusual that I'm aware of.

Q: Mr. Secretary, can you elaborate on the discussions regarding missile defense that you and the Japanese minister have had, and offer any resolution on the teamwork between the two countries for missile defense?

Rumsfeld: I can open the discussion. The minister was briefed by the Ballistic Missile Defense Office. We discussed our very similar view of the nature of the threat. There have been prior discussions between the United States and Japan on the subject.

Nakatani: I told Mr. Rumsfeld that we share the same estimate of the threat, missile threat, to go to the countries, and we do understand the U.S. government posturing about missile defense studies.

Also I reiterated the Japanese government's wishes to continue steadily our cooperative research program between the two countries.

Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.

Press: Thank you.

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