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Secretary Rumsfeld Joint Media Availability with Minister Nakatani of Japan

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
December 10, 2001 12:30 PM EDT

Monday, December 10, 2001 - 12:30 p.m. EST

(Joint media availability with Minister of State for Defense and Director General of the Japanese Defense Agency Gen Nakatani. Nakatani's remarks are provided through an interpreter.)

Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. First, I want to welcome His Excellency the Minister of State for Defense of Japan, Mr. Nakatani. He has visited here before, we've had other visits, and it's a delight to welcome him back to the United States.

As you know, the -- you may not know, but the Japanese Defense Agency, after the September 11th attack, got together and raised a large sum of money and donated it for the families of the victims of the Pentagon attack. And needless to say, all of us were deeply grateful for this spontaneous example of the strength of the wonderful relationship between the United States and Japan.

Since the two of us have been in our respective positions -- oops, stop and let her do it. There you go. (Laughter.)

Interpreter: (Provides interpretation of remarks.)

Rumsfeld: For those of you who don't speak English, I can assure you that Mrs. Gregg does it a lot better than I do. (Laughter.)

Very briefly, we talked about a great many things, and certainly the strengthening of the strategic relations between the United States and Japan. And we talked about the very fine cooperation that Japan is providing with respect to the war on terrorism. And as you know, this is a very interesting period in Japan because of the steps that the government of Japan is taking to evolve the role that their military takes. So we had an excellent visit and had a great deal to talk about.

And I'll turn it over to the minister of state for defense.

Nakatani: I'm really happy to be able to hold this meeting with Secretary Rumsfeld again, following this June's meeting. And first of all, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the people who died in September's terrorist attack. And also, I heard that there were 125 victims in this Pentagon regarding this attack. And I really would like to express my sincere condolences.

I would like to express my respect to the U.S. forces who are engaging in the fight against international terrorism, and also to the whole U.S. citizens, who are fighting against terrorism.

And we strongly support U.S. actions fighting against terrorism.

And as for Japan, we take this fight against terrorism as our own security issue, and we have dispatched our vessels -- Self Defense Force vessels, and also operating our aircraft for the support and -- cooperation and support activities to the U.S. forces. And also, we have -- we are conducting relief activities for displaced persons in Pakistan.

As we discussed in the meeting with Secretary Rumsfeld, I think our operation that we are conducting now is very significant in terms of this is the first significant operation of Japanese self-defense forces abroad fighting against terrorism. And also, I think this is significant in terms of the first actual significant joint operation between Japan and the United States. And so, I think this -- the fight against terrorism is the first challenge and first trial to the new 50 years of U.S. and Japan alliance. And I would like to make every effort to overcome this trial and challenge.

And we'd like to continue to cooperate each other, and I'm really determined to make every effort and put every energy to fight against terrorism and enhance our U.S.-Japan alliance.

(In English.) Thank you very much.

Rumsfeld: We'd be happy to take questions. I don't see Charlie, so I'll start back here. Yes?

Q: You can start right here. (Laughter.)

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Q: (Begins speaking in Japanese.)

Rumsfeld: I thought we'd start with a guest. (Laughter.)

Q: (Through interpreter.) My name is Arima, and Mr. Secretary, I'm sure you talked with minister about the Japanese -- U.S.-Japan cooperation on the fight on the terror, and also I'm sure you talked about the missile defense, as well. Mr. Secretary, what have you shared with Minister Nakatani, and how did he respond to you?

Rumsfeld: Well, I don't know that I can relate the lengthy discussions we had, but we did talk about both those subjects. And I expressed my appreciation to the minister for the cooperation that Japan is providing with respect to the war on terrorism. And with respect to missile defense, we discussed the fact that as our research and development program evolves, we need to stay in very close contact because of Japan's interest in certain aspects of our program. Which we shall do.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, Minister, you have said that the fight against terrorism will last years, not months. Do you both foresee any chance that the Japanese support for the United States in this war will grow beyond that which has already been approved?

Rumsfeld: Well, I can speak for our side, and that is that we have always believed that each country should participate in those aspects of the war on terrorism that they feel comfortable participating in. And I think it is a -- the answer to your question is something that will evolve over time, depending on what the various missions might be, and that is true not just of Japan but, I suspect, all countries participating in the various coalitions.

Q: And you, sir?

Interpreter: (Translating the question and answer for Mr. Nakatani.)

Q: Can she translate -- I'm sorry; Mr. Minister, can we ask you the same question?

Rumsfeld: Since we have so little time, it seems to me we ought to probably ask one question of one person. And we'll take two more after the minister responds.

Nakatani: With regard to the response measures regarding this terrorist attack, actually we have passed legislation which is anti-terrorism special measures law. And this special measures law prescribes that in order to conduct any kind of response measures, the foreign forces' activities have to be related to the terrorist attack on September 11th, and also they have to abide by the purpose of the U.N. Charter and so on.

So, keeping these things in mind, I would like to have close contact and communication with U.S. side and within this, I would like to conduct every possible cooperation that we can have -- we can have with the United States.

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, regarding what Japan is doing now, maybe in the future, specifically, what is the most visible thing you appreciate most? Is Japan making a real difference in this military campaign against terrorism? And if Japan feels comfortable in deciding to send an Aegis destroyer to the Indian Ocean sometime in the future for intelligence gathering and other activities, will it be useful and helpful for the coalition? And did you discuss this issue today?

Rumsfeld: (To interpreter) Are you prepared to translate that? You weren't making notes. (Laughter.)

Interpreter: Sorry.

Rumsfeld: (To another interpreter:) Are you prepared?

Interpreter: (Repeats the question in Japanese.)

Rumsfeld: I have a practice of not characterizing what other countries are doing, because it's best that they characterize it. And that's particularly true when the minister's next to me. (Laughter).

But I can say we appreciate what they're doing a great deal, and it is helping, and it is important.

And I will also not speculate about what they might or might not do in the future; that is up to Japan, as to what they might do in the future.

Last question, Pam.

Q: Could the minister then please explain to us exactly what it is Japan is doing, how many ships, how many people, what missions, how long they've been there, and if indeed there are plans for -- or discussions going on about sending a cruiser to the Indian Ocean?

Nakatani: Now as for our cooperation activities, we have been conducting fuel supply by our Maritime Self Defense Force vessels to U.S. Navy vessels, and also transportation by our aircraft of goods and so on. And also we are conducting relief activities to the displaced persons, based on the requests from UNHCR, and we are transporting blankets and tents and so on.

And with regard to the numbers of the vessels we have dispatched, we have dispatched three destroyers and two AOEs and one minesweeper tender. And also we are using a C-130 for the transportation, air transportation, and also a U-4 business jet for transportation activities as well.

Rumsfeld: Thank you very much. Thank you.

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