Joint Press Conference with Secretary Panetta and Japanese Minister of Defense Ichikawa in Tokyo, Japan
(Note: Defense Minister Ichikawa's remarks are provided through interpreter.)
MODERATOR: (Through interpreter) First we'll have initial remarks by Minister Ichikawa and Secretary Panetta, and first, Minister Ichikawa, please.
MINISTER YASUO ICHIKAWA: Allow me to go ahead. It was a pleasure to welcome Secretary Leon Panetta, the secretary of defense of the United States, to the Ministry of Defense.
A while ago we concluded the Japan-U.S. defense ministers meeting. In the defense ministers meeting today, we discussed the following issues, and we had candid exchange of views of these major topics.
First of all, between I and Secretary Panetta, we affirmed the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and also agreed to further advance the agreement of the two-plus-two in June, such as common strategic objectives and security and defense cooperation in very wide-ranging areas.
We also heard very encouraging remarks from Secretary Panetta that the United States will, in spite of their difficult fiscal conditions, continue to maintain and further step up its commitment to the Asia-Pacific region and effective joint exercises and the cooperation of air surveillance, and also broaden the choice of bases for such operations. And for that purpose, we'll advance joint use of facilities and raise the level -- activity of our units, and demonstrate the presence and capability of our forces. We agreed on this point. And also in -- between myself and Secretary Panetta, we also agreed to further advance such a dynamic Japan-U.S. cooperation -- defense cooperation.
On Futenma relocation, I explained that Japan is proceeding with the preparations to submit an environmental impact assessment statement before the end of the year. And Secretary Panetta stated that he appreciates efforts on the part of Japan and also stated that the U.S. side will continue to work to advance the efforts for -- of the -- for relocation of Futenma Air Station, including relocation of the Marine Corps to Guam.
On the basis of Japan-U.S. agreement, while gaining the understanding of the people in Okinawa and to remove as early as possible the risks accompanying the Futenma Air Station and to realize the return to facilities in the areas south of Futenma and south of Kadena and on relocation of Guam, that we will work as early as possible to advance relocation and the return of the air station.
And we also had discussions on space, cyber-security cooperation and also acquisition of airspace equipment, including ballistic missile defense.
So that is summary of what we discussed, and on the basis of the results achieved in our exchange of views today with Secretary Panetta, we'll continue to address firmly various challenges in order to further strengthen Japan-U.S. alliance.
Thank you very much.
STAFF: Secretary Panetta will make a statement.
Secretary Panetta, please.
SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: Thank you. Thank you very much.
I'd like to begin by thanking Minister Ichikawa for hosting me here today.
And I'd also like to thank the people of Japan for the warm hospitality they've provided me on this visit. This is my first trip to Japan as secretary of defense, although I've had the opportunity to come here a number of times in past capacities in government.
And the message that I want to send is simple. The United States is and always will be a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.
The forward presence of U.S. forces here is not merely a symbol of U.S. commitment to Japan, but also a symbol of our commitment to the peace and security that must exist across the Pacific region.
Minister Ichikawa and I, we found out, share a bond beyond being defense ministers. I was born in Monterey, California, and he comes from an area in which there is a sister city to Monterey. And they in turn -- as we speak, there are young people from both communities that are engaging in an exchange, and it happens at the same time that the minister and I exchange our views with regards to many important issues.
We -- we had a very good and productive meeting, and it follows on some very good sessions that I had with Prime Minister Noda and Foreign Minister Gemba. Both Minister Ichikawa and I agree that the United States-Japan alliance is truly a cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
We also discussed a range of issues, as he pointed out, relating to the security and stability of this region, including North Korea's sometimes provocative behavior, China's growing military capabilities and the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
I expressed my great admiration and conveyed the admiration of the American people for the resilience of the Japanese people in recovering from the terrible earthquake that struck this nation. U.S. military was very proud to support the government of Japan in responding to that disaster. And the success of these efforts by both Japan and the United States is a testament to the strength of this alliance.
We also stated our desire to continue to work together to strengthen bilateral security cooperation with the Republic of Korea as well as with Australia to more effectively address the many shared challenges that we face. Together we will also work to encourage China's emergence as a responsible and positive partner in building regional stability and prosperity, cooperating on global issues and upholding international norms and rules of behavior.
Regarding the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, the minister assured me, as did the prime minister and the foreign minister, of the government of Japan's intention to move forward with the steps necessary for the Futenma replacement facility. This is a critical initiative in our effort to maintain a strong forward-deployed presence in the Pacific region. It's also important to the realignment of our forces in Japan. And it's also important to reducing the impact of our bases in Okinawa.
For all those reasons, we are both very committed to the principles of the realignment road map, including the establishment of an operational Marine presence in Guam.
I want the people of Japan to know that America will continue to work with our regional allies and partners and, through Asia's emerging security architecture, to underwrite peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific area.
It's no secret that the United States faces some very tough fiscal decisions back home. But let me reassure the people of Japan, let me reassure you as secretary of defense that the one thing that we have determined in discussions as to our future strategy, the one thing we are agreed up on is that the Pacific will remain a key priority. I will continue to strengthen our forces in this part of the world.
I'm looking forward to working with Minister Ichikawa to further deepen our alliance, and I'd like to again thank him for his hospitality on my first trip here. Japan is more than just an ally. Japan is a great friend of America, and we will remain a great friend to Japan.
MIN. ICHIKAWA: (In English.) Thank you.
MODERATOR: (Through interpreter.) Thank you very much.
We would like to move on to questions by the press. Those of you who wish to ask a question, please state your name and affiliation and ask questions using the microphone in front. First a question from the Japanese press, please.
Q: (Through interpreter.) I am Amano (ph) with Nippon Television. A question for both Minister Ichikawa and Secretary Panetta on your location of Futenma. What sort of progress or results by what timeline do you think will represent concrete progress on the base's Japan-U.S. agreement?
MIN. ICHIKAWA: Let me answer first. As for the government of Japan, we are working to advance the relocation of the Futenma air station. In the two plus two held in June of this year, our two countries agreed on the location as well as configurations of the Futenma replacement facility. And building on that agreement, we are proceeding with preparations to submit an environmental impact assessment by the end of the year. I explained this to the governor of Okinawa during my recent visit there as well.
By steadily implementing procedure by procedure, I think it is important to certainly implement certain procedures one by one and -- of course, but there are responsibilities on both sides, Japan and the United States. But it is important that we implement the Japan-U.S. agreement and -- so that at the end of the day, we will reduce the burden on Okinawa as a whole.
SEC. PANETTA: I was very pleased with the comments of the minister as well as the prime minister and the foreign minister as well, all of whom confirmed that they were working to be able to present their environmental impact statement, their EIS statement, before the end of this year. That's in line with, I believe, the discussions that were held, the two by two discussions that were held, and it represents important progress towards completing -- or beginning to complete the preliminary steps that have to be taken to put this project in place.
This is -- this realignment agreement goes back, as we all know, to 2006, and it's taken a great deal of time to be able to move forward with it. But I believe that we now see some real progress in what Japan is doing. And as I indicated to the minister, we in the United States will meet our commitment as well to move forward to reducing our presence in Okinawa.
MODERATOR: A question from the U.S. side, please.
Q: Mr. Secretary, Mathiau Bechaud (ph) for AFP. You said you plan to increase the U.S. presence in the Pacific region. Does it mean you intend to send more carriers, Marines or civilian aircraft into these waters?
SEC. PANETTA: As I -- as I stated, we -- we will maintain our presence in this area and we will strengthen our presence in the Pacific region. And there are a number of areas that we are looking at in order to be able to do that. One is obviously the realignment of our forces, that we are -- will certainly engage in as we deal with the realignment at Futenma.
We are also looking at increasing exercises in the Pacific region and training exercises and assistance that can be provided to our regional partners. We are looking at strengthening alliances in this region as well. I just came from Indonesia, where I met with the ASEAN defense ministers, all of whom agreed that we must work together in order to advance the security of this region. And we will do that.
In addition to that, obviously presence, taking steps to advance our presence, as well, and also developing enhanced capabilities in this region. It's very important that we work with our partners in the Pacific region to try to develop their capabilities so that they too can improve the security that they provide to this region. There are a number of steps that we can take, it seems to me, to strengthen our position in the Pacific, and not only strengthen our position, but strengthen the other countries in this region so that we can advance the security of all.
MODERATOR: (Through interpreter.) I would like to invite a second question from the Japanese press.
Q: (Through interpreter): Minote (ph) with Nippon Television. And this question is for Secretary Panetta.
Because of resentment and opposition by Okinawa Prefecture to the current planned process opening up -- I wonder if you intend to set any specific timeline for progress before the end of next year.
SEC. PANETTA: No. I believe that obviously Japan and the government of Japan has to not only proceed with providing the EIS, but I will leave it in their hands to deal with the situation in Okinawa. I'm convinced that in the end it's to the benefit of Okinawa as well as Japan for us to proceed with this realignment. It will serve their needs and it will serve our need, as well.
MODERATOR: We'll take another question from the U.S. side, please.
Q: Hi, Mr. Secretary. Japan's biggest weapon supplier, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has recently suffered a cyber-attack -- on exfiltrating data. Can you discuss the issue of cyber-attacks, including this one? And what are your concerns about China's responsibility for cases of cyber-attack on U.S. and Japanese defense contractors?
SEC. PANETTA: Well, as you know, I've expressed my concerns about cyber-attacks in general. The number of cyber-attacks are increasing in our country and elsewhere, and this is cause for concern. And it means that countries have to work together to develop not only a good defense but a good offense in dealing with cyber issues.
We recently completed a cyber agreement with Australia that give us -- that gives us the capability to share information and to work together in the cyber area. What I discussed with Japan is the opportunity to try to develop that same kind of approach with Japan so that we can improve our capability to defend against these kinds of attacks.
There are -- look, there are a number of countries that are involved on this issue, both on the offense and the defense. Most important thing right now, I think, is that the world community needs to work together to develop standards of how we approach this issue, because this is of concern. It is the battlefield of the future and it's an important area for all countries to work together in order to develop proper security to deal with cyber-attacks.
MODERATOR: (Through interpreter.) The remaining time is about five minutes. And we'd like to invite questions, one each from the Japanese and U.S. press, first Japanese press. Please raise your hand.
Yes, Mr. Kudihada (ph).
Q: (Through interpreter.) Kudihada (ph) with NHK, and question for Secretary Panetta. As the next step of an environmental impact assessment, there's the process of landfill for the candidate site in Okinawa. And with regard to filing -- for a request for filing, do you have any idea of setting a timeline for filing that? And what timing do you think would be desirable?
SEC. PANETTA: As I stated, it's very important to us that the EIS be completed before the end of this year. And as to other steps involved in this process, the best I could tell you is as soon as possible.
MODERATOR: We'll take one more question. Bob Burns of the Associated Press.
Q: A question for Secretary Panetta on Libya. When you've been asked in recent days about post-Gadhafi Libya and the U.S. Department of Defense, you've focused on the question of whether the U.S. can provide some sort of humanitarian assistance. You've mentioned medical assistance. I wonder, beyond that, what sort of military-to-military relations do you foresee with Libya? Should Libya be a U.S. military partner? And then what would that look like?
SEC. PANETTA: I think -- as I mentioned, obviously, our concerns right now are to provide whatever help we can with regards to providing medical relief and medical assistance for the large number of wounded in Libya. And there are areas that we are now exploring to try to determine how we can best address that issue.
The other issue is, obviously, with regards to the arms and the danger that those arms could make their way (sic) into the hands of the wrong people. And for that reason, we need to do what we can to determine where those weapons are and try to secure them as soon as we can.
With regards to the third area, about looking to the future, I think a lot of that at this point, you know, still rests with NATO. I know there -- you know, there are going to be discussions within NATO concerning not only when the possible end of the mission may come, but also how that will transition. And I noticed today that there were comments from some of the Libya leadership asking that NATO continue its mission during this interim as they're trying to establish some of their governance.
So I guess what I would do at this point is leave the decision as to future security involvement in the hands of NATO, and then beyond that, that will give us a basis on which to determine whether there's an additional role that we can play.
MODERATOR: (Through interpreter.) Thank you very much. It's time as we now conclude the joint press conference. Please stay -- remain seated until the two ministers have left. Thank you very much for your kind cooperation.