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Immediate Release

Readout of Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper's Meeting With Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono

On January 14, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper hosted Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono at the Pentagon, where they reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance and reflected on its evolution since the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security sixty years ago.

Secretary Esper and Minister Kono exchanged views on the Middle East and affirmed their commitment to advancing maritime security goals in the region. Secretary Esper reiterated the U.S. commitment to the full implementation of President Trump and Chairman Kim’s Joint Statement at the Singapore Summit, which includes the complete elimination of the DPRK's weapons of mass destruction, their means of production, and their means of delivery. This goal is the same one laid out by the UN Security Council in multiple UN Security Council resolutions. Secretary Esper thanked Japan for its strong leadership in United Nations Security Council Resolutions sanctions enforcement to disrupt North Korea’s illicit ship-to-ship transfers, and for hosting multinational forces that support this effort.

Both Ministers restated their commitment to maintain a rules-based order in the East and South China Sea, and more broadly in the region and world. The leaders agreed on the need to expand their relationships with partners to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The Secretary welcomed Japan’s efforts to strengthen cooperation and improve interoperability with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, India, Australia, and trilaterally with the United States and the Republic of Korea.

Secretary Esper and Minister Kono agreed on the importance of adapting the United States and Japan’s capabilities to effectively address the dynamic security environment. They welcomed the ongoing, seamless coordination between their ministries to integrate the implementation of the National Defense Strategy and Japan’s National Defense Program Guidelines. The leaders agreed to continue efforts to enhance Alliance capabilities and to support interoperability. Secretary Esper and Minister Kono and agreed on the importance of strengthening information security practices to protect advanced defense technologies.

The Ministers committed to work together closely to implement U.S. forces realignment initiatives, including construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility. Secretary Esper noted the importance of Japan’s steps towards completing the purchase of Mageshima to support field carrier landing practice. Secretary Esper and Minister Kono affirmed the importance of sustaining the operational readiness of U.S. forces in Japan. Both Ministers recognized the importance of local community engagement in ensuring stable stationing of U.S. forces in Japan, and Secretary Esper committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety for all U.S. personnel.

Following the meeting, the Ministers held a joint press conference.