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JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE WITH RUMSFELD AND ISHIBA IN TOKYO, JAPAN

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
November 16, 2003
MODERATOR:  Ladies and Gentlemen, we shall now commence a joint press conference after the Defense Summit meeting of Japan and the United States.  First of all, we will ask the Minister and the Secretary to make their initial remarks, Minister Ishiba first.

 

DIRECTOR-GENERAL ISHIBA:  Thank you very much, Ladies and Gentlemen.  Today we had the pleasure of receiving Secretary Rumsfeld to our agency and for slightly longer than one hour, we completed the Defense Summit meeting between Japan and the United States.  It has been one year since I met him last, on the occasion of two-plus-two.  At this summit meeting, we discussed global fight against terrorism, how we implement them.  We also discussed the transformation of the United States armed forces.  We exchanged views, this was such an important time frame and even though it was very important and busy, Secretary took time out in visiting Japan, so I repeated my welcome to the Secretary.  At the summit meeting, we discussed the contingent issues faced by both countries – Iraq rehabilitation issue, as well as the issue of North Korea.  As far as I am concerned, as to the act of terrorism, we must realize that we are living in a new security environment.  In my way, I express it 'post 9-11 environment'.  So in this new environment, defense cooperation between the two countries, how can we make it closer and deeper?  How can we enhance the relationship?  What should be the defense posture in a new environment?  These were the focal points of a discussion.  Discussion was quite significant and useful.  Between Secretary Rumsfeld and myself, on most of the points, we agreed.  Regarding the details, the administrative people will pursue the discussion, but in terms of the basic thinking, we were able to share our thinking.  On our side, we are reviewing on defense posture, or as shown in PSI, we are making an approach to the WMD non-proliferation arrangements and I would like to see the results of a discussion being reflected in those arrangements and efforts.  Thank you very much.

 

SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD:  It is, Mr. Minister, a real pleasure for me to be with you and back in Japan.  I had good meetings last evening with Prime Minister Koizumi and the Chief Cabinet Secretary Mr. Fukuda and a very nice reception, which the minister hosted.  Today I met with Foreign Minister Kawaguchi and of course our delegation and the Minister of State for Defense Mr. Ishiba's delegation.  We have just completed an excellent meeting, where we discussed a broad range of issues, and not surprisingly, find ourselves in broad agreement.  I have come to Japan a great many times over some four decades, both as a public official and as a private citizen and a businessman.  As a matter of fact, Ambassador Baker, then Senator Baker, and I came here once together back in the 1960's as members of Congress, working with members of the Japanese Diet in a parliamentary program.  So I have had an opportunity to make many friends here and to witness the remarkable changes in this country and its role in the world over four decades.

 

The accomplishments of the Japanese people are impressive.  Japan has the second highest GDP in the world, the second largest defense budget of any free nation, and an industrious, well educated, highly intelligent population in a thriving democracy.  It is a country, whose leadership and example benefit the entire world.  Indeed, the people of our two countries enjoy perhaps, among the freest political and economic systems on the face of the earth.  We share common interests, common values, and a desire to effect world events to the benefit of free people everywhere.  We can, of course, accomplish a great deal working together as we do.  We appreciate Japan's contributions in Afghanistan and Iraq.  As you know, Japan has provided airlift and at-sea refueling in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  It is taking a leadership role in supporting reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and has pledged a major leadership gift for Iraqi reconstruction.  These contributions demonstrate a commitment to freedom and security on the part of the Japanese people that extends, of course, well beyond this region.

 

Japan has taken key steps in recent years, with respect to its role its military plays in international security, working with the United States to improve missile defense capabilities and sending an engineering battalion, for example, to East Timor.  This evolution in Japan's security policy is creating new opportunities for our two countries to work together to modernize our alliance and to transform our capabilities and to strengthen our ability to deal with the new challenges of the 21st century.  We are deeply grateful for the friendship and the steadfastness of the Japanese people.  Japan's leadership is welcome as we enter the new security environment of the 21st century.  Thank you, Mr. Minister.

 

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Minister and Mr. Secretary.  We had the initial remarks, so we will go to the representative questions.  If you have a question, please use the standing microphone in the foreground.  So please identify yourself by stating your name and affiliation.  From the Japanese side, first question?

 

Q:  Tanaka is my name and I am from TBS television station.  Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Ishiba, I have a question to both of you.  Japanese government is debating the dispatching of SDF to Iraq.  What is the significance and what is the mission, when, at what size is the dispatching necessary? This is the question asked to two of you.

 

ISHIBA:  I would like to respond to your question first of all.  Now what is the significance of dispatching SDF?  Rehabilitation of Iraq and stabilizing civilian life.  It is going to be very important for the future of Middle East.  Middle East is an area where we heavily rely for the supply of petroleum.  So the safety of that region would be very important, not only for that region, but for the entire international peace and stability.  We consider the significance very important.  As far as we are concerned, we would like to closely watch the situation prevailingly there, and we will be utilizing the competence of SDF, befitting the competence that we would like to discharge the responsibility.  We'd like to do it as soon as possible.  U.S. and other countries are working on the rehabilitation of Iraq and Japan would, there are 33 countries being active and we would like to pay deepest tribute to their efforts and at the same time, democracy, peace and freedom should be brought to the people of Iraq.  That is the cause and the goodwill of the United States, which we support from the bottom of my heart.  This message should be well understood by the people of the world.  The United Nations must be used fully.  I explained the significance of SDF dispatching.

 

Now then, what's the timing? Since past, as I have responded during the debate of Diet, there are certain things that the SDF can only do, and then we have to have legal arrangements in place, which would enable SDF implement those things.  Law and order, implementability, consideration to the safety, these are the factors of which will go into our consideration of deciding the time frame.  So we will closely watch the situation in the local area.  We would like to make a prudent and appropriate decision.

 

RUMSFELD:  I don't know what I could add to that except to say that the United States, needless to say, is appreciative of the support that the United States has received, the coalition has received from the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, for example, in supporting the Polish and Spanish division that exists there.  We appreciate the 33 countries that have forces on the ground and the wonderful support, financial and humanitarian, that has come from so many other countries.  We have always believed that the situations differ from country to country and each nation, sovereign nation, needs to think through precisely what makes the most sense from their standpoint and then engage in a way that they feel is appropriate.

 

MODERATOR:  Now may I ask the representative question from the U.S. side, please. 

 

Q:  Gentlemen, I am Charlie Aldinger with Reuters.  Mr. Minister, you said that you two agreed in most areas.  I am tempted to ask where you didn't agree, but I won't.  I would like to know if you two discussed the Okinawa situation and given the political sensitivity in Tokyo and Washington, do you feel perhaps that some, at least some U.S. troops should be removed from Okinawa to reduce tensions there, and are you close to any kind of agreement on changes of U.S. troops in Japan?

 

RUMSFELD:  I believe you began that by saying Mr. Minister, didn't you?  (Laughter.)

 

RUMSFELD:  Well, I can make a quick comment.  I am looking forward to visiting Okinawa, and the subject has come up during our visits, needless to say.  The United States, as you know, has been looking at our arrangements around the world for the better part of two and a half years.  We have developed some concepts and some ideas and we are now in the very early stages of discussing some of those concepts with our friends and allies around the world, including Japan, but we don't have any specifics because it will take a good deal of discussion and consideration.  We're not at the stage of making proposals or anything like that, but rather at initiating discussions.

 

ISHIBA:  As Secretary Rumsfeld has aptly explained, as to the specific methods to be taken, we have not yet taken any decision.  That was already explained by Mr. Secretary.  Now, for the U.S. forces in Japan, the bases and facilities, 75 percent of such facilities are being concentrated in Okinawa.  That's the Okinawa people who are actually shouldering an enormous burden for this, and the government of Japan is quite aware of this necessity of the U.S. forces to be stationed in Japan.  We are significantly aware of this necessity, not only for the security and peace for Japan, but also for the Asia Pacific as a whole.  But in order to alleviate the burden for the people in Okinawa, we have to try to steadily implement what has been decided by SACO, and we will be steadily implementing bilaterally what we have decided.  As to the future, it was already aptly explained by Mr. Secretary.

 

MODERATOR:  Now may I turn to the Japanese side once again.  The second representative question please.

 

Q:  My name is Miyashita from Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.  I have a question for both the Minister as well as the Secretary.  As for the U.S.-Japan security arrangements, as the world faces the new threats, including the acts of terror, the effectiveness of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements is now put in question as to that it is maybe outdated or outmoded, and based on the U.S-Japan security arrangements, will the U.S. be able to exercise its power?  After the 9-11, what are the new challenges faced by the bilateral defense cooperation and are there any specific issues to be solved by the two sides?  I would like to ask Mr. Ishiba to respond first of all.

 

ISHIBA:  Now, the Japan-U.S. security arrangements -- the importance has never changed at all during the Cold War and after the Cold War as well as after the 9-11, there has been no change in the importance of our security arrangements.  As you have given the example of the Korean situation, the North Korea, for the missile threat from the North Korea, we are of course depending upon the U.S. and its power of strike and whenever Japan is attacked, it will be deemed to be attacked to our own country and we have already presented our strong will and intent, and the U.S. side has given us assurance and Prime Minister Koizumi and myself have repeatedly expressed our appreciation.  Now, how to make a review, more specifically as to our bilateral security arrangements -- it is not that the government of Japan has come up with any decisions at all for the smoother and facilitated implementation of Japan-U.S. security arrangements in every stage; we would like to continue to have verification studied.  The necessity of that has been repeatedly emphasized myself. Thank you very much.

 

RUMSFELD:  The U.S.-Japan Security Agreement is a solid basis for our security cooperation.  It's quite true that it was fashioned in the last century and we are living in a new security environment.  But within that agreement is ample flexibility for us to be arranged going into this new century in ways that will enable us to cooperate and deal with the 21st century threats.  As one looks out over the period ahead, it is clear that the original concept of being able to compete successfully against large armies and navies and air forces has to be adjusted to enable our countries to deal with the global war on terror, as was mentioned -- problems such as ballistic missiles -- and I would suspect that, in the coming decades, problems that could relate to cyberwarfare and the like.  There is no doubt in my mind but that the very solid cooperative relationship underpinned by the Security Agreement between the United States and Japan will enable us to adjust and evolve our relationship in ways that enable us to do just as successfully in the future those deterrent and defense capabilities that we have done in the past.

 

Q:  Yes sir, Bill Gertz with the Washington Times.  My question is for both of you.  First, it’s about the nuclear issue.  It's been reported that North Korea is prepared to accept some U.S. security guarantees.  Mr. Ishiba, are you concerned that any agreement with North Korea could lead to a weakening of Japan’s security, and Mr. Rumsfeld, since North Korea has violated the ’94 agreement, can North Korea be trusted with any future nuclear agreement?

 

ISHIBA:  For the U.S. to assure in what way the security and safety for North Korea -- I understand that study is ongoing within the United States.  Now, this is just, on a hypothetical question and with the guarantee of security to be given to the North Korea and the U.S. has a guarantee of implementing the obligations of the defense for Japan.  These two are separate questions.  One thing is being given does not mean that other will be undermined.  That is not the relationship between the two.  With the assurance or guarantee given to the North Korea, and if there is an unjust attack made on Japan, U.S., I am sure, will have no change in its intention to work together with Japan to defend our nation.  I believe we are in total agreement between myself and Mr. Secretary.

 

RUMSFELD:  We are indeed in total agreement and the – it is a hypothetical question because the United States government has not gotten to that point.  I can say this.  The United States government is not going to make any arrangements with any other country, that one or others, that would in any way undermine our security agreement with Japan.  Second, with respect to trust, I have always kind of agreed with former President Reagan --trust but verify.

 

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  It is possible for us to extend for another ten minutes so we would like to move on to free questions.  If I may designate from Japanese side and U.S. side in that order.  I would like to accept questions from the floor.  From the Japanese side, please raise your hand if you have any question.

 

Q:   Yuko Fuse from NTV, Tokyo.  Well, I am a brave volunteer to be a trouble-maker because I followed your foreign press conference this week.  My question is -- that given the reality that the Japanese Self-Defense Force's function is limited within the combat free zone in Iraq, thanks to Japanese domestic act, and that the terrorism is outreaching even in the south of Iraq where the Japanese Self-Defense Forces would be deployed.  And now, Japanese government is hesitant to announce dispatching JSDF out there.  I guess your comment might be, it is any nation's decision to join the coalition parties or not -- coalition forces or not -- but taking the importance of Japan and United States alliance into consideration would you tell me your thoughts if Japanese government decided to delay JSDF out there in Iraq.  Thank you.

 

RUMSFELD:  Thank you.  My answer is the same.  That I do believe in every being in my body that each country needs to think through these issues and make judgments that are appropriate to their circumstance and their perspective, and we are completely comfortable with that and we are confident that our friends here in Japan will make decisions that are appropriate to them, and that is what we want them to do.

 

MODERATOR:  Then from the U.S. side, any question please?  Please raise your hand high please.

 

Q:  Thank you very much.  A question from the New York Times.  Mr. Secretary and Mr. Minister, did you discuss the Status of Forces Agreement today, in particular possible new legal protections for American service personnel in that period between when a crime was committed and the indictment?  I know that talks on this important issue broke down in August.  Did you make any progress today?  And was a decision made to restart those talks with some quick deadline?  Thank you very much.

 

RUMSFELD:  This subject did come up and was discussed and you are quite correct that discussions had existed.  Each side had made some progress.  They were discontinued, and it is certainly my hope that they will be reestablished at some point in the period ahead.

 

ISHIBA:  Now, on the same question, the U.S. side did raise the point you mentioned, and mainly this is an issue to be dealt with by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  As for the Defense Agency, I don’t think we are given the authority and power to solve the problem.  But for the government of Japan as a whole, as to the position of the U.S. government, and also the thinking of the people in Okinawa, both things need to be taken into consideration so that we can build a better bilateral relationship between Japan and the United States.  Therefore the government of Japan would like to tackle with the question from this perspective.  Thank you.

 

MODERATOR:  Anybody else from the Japanese side, please?

 

Q:  My name is Honda from Tokyo Shimbun newspaper.  I have a question to Secretary Rumsfeld.  Now, the Japan Defense Agency has made a request for budget for next year.  The missile defense system has been decided and the budget request has been put forward.  Now if the ballistic missile is being launched from Asia, if an incident like that happens would like to have Japan to defend the U.S., as well, or would you like to take a joint action together with Japan in such a case?

 

RUMSFELD:  We are at the early stages of developing long-range ballistic missile defense capabilities, as you know.  We have made considerable progress with respect to short-range ballistic missile defense.  And we were, needless to say, given Japan’s circumstance in the world, not surprised to see that they had decided to move forward with missile defense in their budget, and we recognize the complexity of the task of defending against ballistic missiles of all ranges and do believe that the greater the cooperation that exists between countries and that the greater likelihood is that the deterrent effect of ballistic missile defense will be more effective.  As a result we have, as a country, talked to several nations in different parts of the world about cooperating with us on missile defense.  We have entered into some understandings with several countries and certainly would look forward to working with Japan as their thinking evolves and as their programs develop.

 

ISHIBA:  We are running out of time but one last question from the U.S. side please.

 

Q:  I am not from the U.S. side, I am from Egypt.  I am an Al-Ahram correspondent in Tokyo.  My question for Mr.—the minister of the United States.  My question is how long is American troops will stay in Iraq?  Do you think the Iraqi people will change their mind?  They were, before, welcoming the American troops, but now do you think they have changed their mind?  Thank you.

 

RUMSFELD:  Thank you.  The President of the United States and Prime Minister Blair and the coalition have indicated that they would like to transfer security responsibility to the Iraqi people, Iraqi security forces, at a pace that is comfortable for the Iraqis.  The Iraqis now have something like 131,000 security forces.  They have more security forces that have been trained and deployed than the United States has forces in the country.  We are at about 127,000.  The United States and the coalition have also said they would like to transfer the control of the government to the Iraqi people at a pace that they are comfortable with.  And the short answer to it is that the President and Prime Minister Blair have said, that we will stay as long as necessary and not one day longer.  We have a desire to be helpful in assisting with essential services so that the country gets back on its feet.  We have a desire to work with the Governing Council to fashion a way to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people, and we are making, as I say, very good progress in developing security capability for the Iraqi security forces so that they can take on an increasing role in providing for their own security.  Our goal is to see that country a single country, a whole country at peace with its neighbors without powerful weapons, and a country that has a system of government that will provide for a more prosperous Iraq.  These are intelligent, well educated, energetic people, and a country that has a government that is respectful of the diverse religious and ethnic minorities in the country.  We believe that’s possible and we certainly want to do everything we can to assist them, and we want to do it as fast as possible and then get about our business elsewhere.

 

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  We are running out of time so we would like to conclude the joint press conference.  Please stay in your seats until Secretary and Minister leaves this hall.  So please say in your seats.  Thank you.