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News Briefing with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Minister of State for Defense of Japan Yoshinori Ohno and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Nobutaka Machimura
October 29, 2005
News Briefing with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Good morning.  We are very pleased to have Minister Machimura and Minister Ohno, the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Foreign Affairs here, and to welcome Secretary Rice.

           

            It's a pleasure to be with good friends and steadfast allies.

 

            I think it would be difficult to over-emphasize the importance of today's meetings and the progress that's been made in this alliance.  It's significant.  The security relationship between the United States and Japan now in place for more than 50 years remains a bulwark of peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region.

 

            But like all alliances, this relationship must and is in fact evolving to remain strong and relevant and it's our joint responsibility to manage the alliance evolution.  We are getting that job done.

 

            Japan and the United States have worked very closely together on many regional security issues, strengthening the fundamentals of the alliance to assure the security of Japan and peace in the region, developing ballistic missile defenses, working to prevent the proliferation of dangerous weapons of mass destruction, North Korea's nuclear program, and responding to humanitarian needs such as the tsunami relief in Southeast Asia.  Japan is also providing valuable assistance to new democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

            These efforts along with the leadership it provides in the global war on terror demonstrates Japan's place as an important contributor to global as well as regional security in the still early years of the 21st Century.

 

            Since agreeing on common strategic objectives in February, we have moved forward with a shared vision to transform our alliance and to realign U.S. and Japanese force posture in Japan.  We’ve agreed to findings and recommendations that will strength capabilities the alliance requires to meet those common strategic objectives.  At the same time we will be able to reduce impacts on local Japanese communities.  This should ensure a durable, more balanced, and clearly more capable alliance.

 

            The recommendations contained in our report -- alliance, transformation and realignment -- have now been accepted and endorsed for action.  The task now is to move forward with the transformation of our alliance.

 

            Minister Ohno?

           

            MINISTER OHNO:  [Through Interpreter].  Thank you very much indeed.

 

            We just had a most outstanding meeting of the so-called 2+2 with Secretary Rice and my counterpart, Secretary Rumsfeld.  The consultations that we have had this time I believe represent a truly historic process for a transformation of the Japan-U.S. alliance, and I believe this really was for the purpose of a fresh start of this process with renewed energy.

 

            I believe we are in fact opening a new era because Japan-U.S. alliance to date, if anything, was for the purpose really of defending Japan through the use of Japanese bases and U.S. forces whereas now, and of course in the process we also have seen the legislation regarding response to situations in the area surrounding Japan.  We're now talking about joint activities in various areas between Japan and the United States in order to improve the peace and security around the world.

 

            One example is information sharing, especially in relation to missile defense, as well as international disaster relief. But we are also talking about shared use of facilities and also operation cooperation, joint operations, and joint responses.

 

            So I would expect that through this transformation we'll see ever-deepening contributions in terms of Japan-U.S. relations but also to international peace.

 

            Let me next discuss a realignment of U.S. forces.  As I've oft repeated we, Japan and the United States, have engaged in consultations regarding realignment with two major points in mind.  That is the maintenance of deterrence and the reduction of burdens in local communities, notably Okinawa.  As part of these consultations there is the relocation of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma as well as relocation of approximately 7,000 U.S. Marines to Guam.

 

            I will not delve into details with regard to other areas, but let me say that while the general direction has been laid down there still remains details to be determined and I've asked for continued cooperation and support by the U.S. side to work out further directions and also details.

           

            For example there is a question of [Retcon].  There is also the issue of military/civilian joint use of the Yakota Air Base and the U.S. Army depot issue.

 

            I also asked that the U.S. side also consider seriously with us the question of idle facilities. 

 

            These measures, and especially the response to the Okinawa issue would require substantive fiscal outlays.  I used to work for the Ministry of Finance and in that context I was pretty much known as Mr. Oh No.  [Laughter].  But I suggested that we would address these matters from the position of Oh Yes.  [Laughter].

 

            Also we need to cooperate with each other on global challenges, global issues.  I will not delve into any details here, but in this regard Japan recently extended the special measures law for the fight against terrorism.  Also in December the current law, the special measures law for dispatch to Iraq will come to an end and we will maintain close coordination with the United States to come up with the proper adjustment on these matters.

 

            There are numerous things that Japan and the United States should jointly do in the context of international disaster relief as well.  We will have to, in the period leading up to March of this year, we have to engage in some further consultations with each other to arrive at a final conclusion, and in that context a major challenge for the Japanese government would be to gain the understanding and cooperation of the local communities concerned so the Japanese Defense Agency together with the Japan Defense Facilities Agency will with good faith and utmost sincerity do its best to gain the cooperation by the local communities concerned.

 

            So we will do our best to make the transformation for this new era workable.

 

            SECRETARY RICE:  Let me just join Secretary Rumsfeld in welcoming our Japanese colleagues, Minister Machimura and Director Ohno here to the United States.  The four of us have had very fruitful discussions within the context of the 2+2 that I think demonstrate the breadth of the U.S.-Japan relationship, demonstrate that it has an enduring character based on shared values, and demonstrate that we are determined to continue to enhance this relationship as we face new issues in the 21st Century.

 

            I have nothing really to add to what Secretary Rumsfeld has said.  We did in fact have a discussion of our global efforts together which are extensive, a relationship as General Ohno said, a relationship that was once only about the defense of Japan or perhaps about the stability in the region, has truly become a global alliance.

 

            Let me just add that Minister Machimura and I also met last night and we had an opportunity to talk about other issues, for instance trade, our devotion to the next round of the World Trade Organization meetings in Hong Kong and the importance of success in that.  We talked about the need to open Japanese markets, our desire to see Japanese markets opened as quickly as possible for our beef products.  But in general we have had a very broad discussion that is only befitting two of the closest allies in the world, an alliance that is clearly based on common values, that is clearly based on a desire to see freedom and liberty spread.  And that understands that when democracy is on the march then we are all safer, and when democracy is in retreat we are more vulnerable.

 

            MINISTER MACHIMURA:  [Through Interpreter].  Since the three have already spoken before me I shall try and avoid overlap as much as possible.

 

            In the meeting this morning we first had a free exchange of views on the international situation.   More specifically, we confirmed the importance of Japan and the United States engaging in cooperation firmly with the international community in such areas as peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iranian nuclear issue, as well as the earthquake disaster in Pakistan among others.

 

            In the Northeast Asian region we discussed the North Korean nuclear issue and the progress in the 6-Party talks related to North Korea, as well as encouraging China's constructive role in the interest of world peace as seen in their efforts in the 6-Party talks.

 

            Others have already discussed U.S. forces realignment so I will not go into that, but I believe that through the joint work we have conducted this time, the Japan-U.S. alliance has been strengthened further, and I believe that the results attained this time are important not just for the maintenance of Japan's security but also for the peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region and in fact the global society as a whole.

 

            President Bush will be visiting Japan in mid-November and I believe that building on the results attained this time his visit to Japan will be a most fruitful one.

 

            As Minister Ohno said, in the run-up to the final report we still can have the important issue of addressing or gaining the understanding and cooperation of the local communities, and it behooves the Japanese government as a whole to properly and firmly address this issue, and if I could also discuss further details, or a couple of issues that need to be addressed, there is the important issue of the Kadina Air Base noise and also the joint use, civilian/military joint use of Yakota Air Base, as well as the return of some idle facilities and areas which Minister Ohno referred to as well.  These are also matters that need to be addressed.

 

            Last but not least, I would like to pay my heartfelt respect to the outstanding leadership exercised by, on the Japanese side, Minister Ohno, and on the U.S. side, Secretary Rumsfeld.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  It takes extra time, obviously for translation so I'd like to suggest that we have a limited number of questions and that people ask one question only, and they ask it of one person.  [Laughter].  I know that's a brutal suggestion, but we would appreciate it.  [Laughter].

 

            PRESS:  [Through Interpreter].  My name is [inaudible] with Shinbun and I have one question for Secretary Rumsfeld.

 

            I believe that the negotiations regarding relocation of Futenma Air Station had a difficult going, and I wonder how you were watching the development of those consultations.  And with regard to the agreement that's been arrived at, how do you see the visibility of this agreement?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  I was watching it hopefully.  My impression is that it's been an excellent negotiation and a good outcome.  Change is always hard.  The task now is to see towards implementation in a way that's satisfactory from everyone's standpoint.

 

            PRESS:  Minister Ohno, in your opening statement you described Japan's desire to play a greater role in "the peace and security around the world."  What kinds of new missions might Japan be willing to undertake to do that?  Mr. Secretary, I won't violate your rule, but if you --

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  You're starting to violate it.  [Laughter].

 

            PRESS:  I will give you the opportunity to also comment.  [Laughter].

 

            MINISTER OHNO:  [Through Interpreter].  With regard to the new missions, there are two major pillars in the new national defense program guidelines of Japan and one of them is improvement of international security environment.  This would not conflict with the Japanese constitution.  So we will engage in activities that will not involve the use of force or would not be conducted in conjunction with the use of force such as humanitarian and reconstruction activities, logistics support for the prevention of terrorism, and also international emergency disaster relief activities and we're talking about engaging in these activities jointly with the United States.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  And I'll decline the opportunity to violate my rule.  [Laughter].

 

            PRESS:  [Through Interpreter].  My name is Kobashi with NSK Japan Broadcasting Corporation.  A question for Secretary Rumsfeld.

 

            Japan to date has made international contributions in relation to Iraq in humanitarian reconstruction and in counter-terrorism activities.  In East Asia, however, you see factors of instability such as North Korea.  In the interim report you speak of more coordination between Japan and the United States, and I wonder as Secretary of Defense what specific roles you would expect of Japan.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  The specific roles we would expect of Japan are those roles that Japan feels comfortable performing.  Japan has the second largest economy on the face of the earth.  The people of Japan benefit greatly from the international system.  Clearly Japan has an interest in the success of the international system.  With an interest in the success of that system which benefits the Japanese people, it seems to me it's appropriate for Japan to find ways in the 21st Century that they can contribute to making the system successful.

 

            Our guests from Japan have airplanes to catch.  I think we'll take one more question.

 

            PRESS:  I have a question for you, sir but since Secretary Rice is a guest in our house maybe she would like to violate your rule and comment.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Why don't you ask it?  [Laughter].

 

            PRESS:  Well, it's really more a defense question, sir, but in a sense it hinges on both.  The question is about the new saber rattling by the President of Iran against Israel.  Do you take it seriously?  And if so, what does the United States plan to do about it?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Madame Secretary.

 

            SECRETARY RICE:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

 

            I think it has to be taken seriously.  When the President of one country says that another country should be wiped off the face of the map in violation of all of the norms of the United Nations where they sit together as members, it has to be taken seriously.

 

            There has been widespread condemnation of this statement and it only demonstrates why we're working so hard to keep Iran from getting technologies that would lead to a nuclear weapon under cover of civilian nuclear power, why we're working so hard to remind the world that Iran is probably the most important state sponsor of terrorism, and why people should never forget that the Iranian people live without freedom and without the prospect of freedom because an unelected few are denying them that.

 

            So I think you're seeing the world rally to that view.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Thank you very much, everybody.

 

            SECRETARY RICE:  Thank you.

 

            MINISTER MACHIMURA:  Thank you.

 

            MINISTER OHNO:  Thank you.

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