WASHINGTON, April 19, 2017 —
The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace, prosperity and freedom in the Asia-Pacific region, Vice President Mike Pence told U.S. service members aboard the USS Ronald Reagan at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, home of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet today.
As he stood aboard the aircraft carrier, Pence said President Donald J. Trump sent him to thank U.S. and Japanese service members who have “stood up and stepped forward to protect our countries, our values and our very way of life.”
Pence is in the Asia-Pacific region to visit top officials in Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Sydney for discussions on economic engagement and evolving security challenges.
“You are the sons and daughters of freedom willing to defend it with your life so that your families, fellow countrymen and future generations may continue to call themselves free. All of America is proud of you,” the vice president said.
Pence told the service members they are, “the best of us, heroes all. The Americans among you are so far away from home because the United States of America and Japan are bound by history, a time-honored treaty and the abiding oath of friendship.”
The U.S. bond with Japan is strong and growing stronger every day, he said.
“It’s fitting today I deliver this message aboard this great ship, a majestic ship, the USS Ronald Reagan here at Yokosuka Naval Base,” Pence said. “Her steel deck literally signifies the ironclad alliance our country enjoys with Japan, and our enduring commitment to the Asia-Pacific.”
Today, more than 50,000 U.S. troops, and another 50,000 civilians and family members are stationed in Japan, Pence told the audience. And the United States will continue to deploy more of its advanced military assets to the region in the years ahead, he added.
“Beyond the noble ship and the carrier strike group that it leads, by the year 2020, this ocean will boast 60 percent of our Navy’s fleet. And the skies above already have F-35 [Lighting II] joint strike fighters flying for freedom,” Pence said.
Stronger Fighting Force
“The president and I will honor your commitment and secure America’s safety through historic investments in our national defense. Just as President Ronald Reagan restored the armed forces in his day, so too, President Donald Trump will make the strongest fighting force in the world even stronger still,” Pence said.
In Trump’s first 100 days in office, Pence noted, the new president has taken steps to strengthen America’s military.
“President Trump has submitted a budget, which will rebuild our military and restore the arsenal of democracy with the largest increase in defense spending since the days of the namesake of this ship sat in the Oval Office,” he said.
In the past two weeks, Pence said, the world saw strength and resolve when Trump took decisive actions in Syria and Afghanistan.
“The enemies of our freedom and this alliance would do well not to test the resolve of this president or the capabilities of the armed forces of the United States of America and our allies,” he said.
North Korea Threat
Pence referred to his visit to South Korea earlier in the week.
“North Korea is the most dangerous and urgent threat to the peace and security of the Asian Pacific,” he said. “For more than a generation, North Korea’s leaders have sought to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic weapons on which to deliver them. They have impoverished their people and embittered the region in their pursuit of this dangerous goal.”
And the United States and its allies have worked tirelessly to peacefully dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program and alleviate the suffering of its people, he added.
“But at every step of the way, North Korea answered with overtures of willful deception, with broken promises and nuclear and missile tests,” Pence said.
“As President Trump has made clear, the era of strategic patience is over,” the vice president said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)