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Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee ("2+2") Meeting (As Prepared)

Minister Kishi, Minister Hayashi, it’s an honor to join you and Secretary Blinken today.

I’m sorry that we’re not able to meet in person. I realize that probably would have been the case anyway, given the spread of the new coronavirus variant… but it was made certain by my positive COVID test a few days ago.

I’m very grateful that I’m fully vaccinated and got a booster shot—and my doctor tells me that’s made my case far milder.

I’m looking forward to being back in the office, and to carrying on the fight against this swiftly changing virus. And I know that you all feel the same.

So it’s especially meaningful to be with you today. And beyond the pandemic, I wanted to join you to underscore the strength of our Alliance.

We know how strong that Alliance is today. It remains the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the region. We’re rightly proud that it’s built upon a foundation of not just common interests but also shared values.

But some of those interests and values are under threat today, and so our discussion comes at a critical moment.

We’re meeting against a backdrop of increased tensions and challenges to the free, stable, and secure Indo-Pacific region that we both seek … challenges posed by North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and by the coercive and aggressive behavior of the People’s Republic of China.

So, together, we are taking bold steps to improve our Alliance, bolster our readiness, and strengthen what I call “integrated deterrence.”

Just last month, we completed Exercise YAMA SAKURA 81… which was the largest bilateral and joint command post drill in 40 years of this exercise.

And we followed this up with Exercise RESOLUTE DRAGON… a massive joint operation between U.S. and JSDF forces.

We remain grateful for the support that Japan continues to provide U.S. forces deployed there … and for an extraordinary level of mutual cooperation across the full spectrum of military capabilities.

We will -- and we must -- continue to work even more closely together.

And so our meeting today will build upon the discussions that we have already had, including last spring in Tokyo… and help us lay down a framework for the coming year and into the future.

This framework will include: enhancing Alliance capabilities across all domains; evolving our roles and missions to reflect Japan’s growing ability to contribute to regional peace and stability; and optimizing our Alliance force posture to strengthen deterrence.

I’m optimistic about the future we are building together. And I’m looking forward to a candid and productive discussion today.

Thank you.