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Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Dr. Ely Ratner Remarks at the Mt. Fuji Dialogue (As Delivered Virtually From Washington, D.C.)

DR. ELY RATNER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR INDO-PACIFIC SECURITY AFFAIRS: Thank you so much and it's really an honor to have the opportunity to speak at the Mt. Fuji Dialogue today. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl was really looking forward to attending this conference in person, but unfortunately was unable to make the trip to Tokyo. And I consider it a real privilege to address the Dialogue which we consider the premier forum for discussion of the U.S.-Japan Alliance, what I look -- when I look at the fantastic lineup of speakers addressing the broad range of issues impacting the region and our partnership, it’s clear the strength and depth of our alliance. 

And I would like to thank the organizers of the Mt. Fuji Dialogue especially Chairman Mogi, as well as the Japan Center for Economic Research and the Japan Institute of International Affairs for convening this important gathering. I'm privileged to be speaking to you just a couple of weeks after Vice President Harris' visit to Japan, and after recent successful engagements between Secretary of Defense Austin and Defense Minister Hamada in Washington and Hawaii, and I had the privilege of participating in both of those terrific discussions. The high volume of U.S. government travel to the region this year, including President Biden's successful trip to Japan earlier this summer, really demonstrates the importance of the Indo-Pacific to our National Security Strategy. 

Our alliance with Japan is at the heart of this strategy, as is our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Our commitment to the region and to strengthening the Japan Alliance is iron-clad. Today I would like to talk about U.S.-Japan cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, and specifically our efforts to modernize the alliance in the face of new regional challenges. I want to begin by discussing new dynamics in the regional security environment, including the recent aggressive behavior by the People's Republic of China, as well as the DPRK and how this necessitates closer U.S.-Japan cooperation. I want to then provide an overview of the work we're doing here in Washington in government and with our colleagues in Tokyo, to strengthen the U.S.-Japan Alliance and modernize bilateral roles, missions and capabilities to meet these new challenges. 

Lastly, I want to touch on the ways which the United States and Japan are cooperating with regional allies and partners to bolster a free and open Indo-Pacific. On the issue of the regional security environment, the United States and Japan are now facing a level of unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. This why our alliance is more important than ever. Japan's security and U.S. security are inextricably linked to regional developments and the security of our neighbors. Maintaining and strengthening the rules-based international order underpins the U.S.-Japanese commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. 

Since February, Russia's reckless and ruthless war of choice against Ukraine has had far reaching, geopolitical, economic and humanitarian implications. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is an affront to free people everywhere, and its impacted and felt far beyond Europe, and constituting a challenge to the order that we've all worked so hard to build and defend. Our response to Russian aggression has been steady and resolute. The United States and Japan, along with the international community have condemned Russia's invasion, imposed sanctions on Russian enemies and sent necessary aid to Ukraine. Japan's quick and strong actions helped transform the international response from one that was regional to one that was global. Through the Ukraine Defense Contract Group, both the United States and our allies and partners are exploring innovative ways to sustain our long-term support to the brave men and women of the Ukrainian armed forces and to ensure that Ukraine has the capability it needs to defend itself. 

As it relates to the Indo-Pacific, the key takeaway from the conflict in Ukraine is that aggression of any kind will be met with a community of action, as we've seen more than 30 of our allies and partners, including from the Indo-Pacific, join us in rushing security assistance to Ukraine. 

China's recent aggressive behavior in the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait represents yet another profound challenge to the rules-based order and our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Following Speaker Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in early August, China launched an intensified and premeditated pressure campaign against Taiwan to try to change the status quo, jeopardizing peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the Indo-Pacific region. We know China launched missiles in the waters around Taiwan including five that landed within Japan's claimed exclusive economic zone. China declared exclusion zones around Taiwan that disrupted fishing activities and civilian air and maritime traffic. And China crossed the center line between the PRC and Taiwan with historic numbers of aircraft. China's aggressive and coercive military activities in the Taiwan Strait and in the waters surrounding Japan, including near the Senkaku Islands are provocative and destabilizing. And its continued efforts to establish a so-called new normal concerning Taiwan are threatening regional peace and security. Meanwhile over the last year, we've seen a dramatic increase in the People's Liberation Army non-standard and unsafe intercepts in the region, designed to coerce and intimidate the U.S. and allied forces operating lawfully in international airspace. 

In response, Japan and the United States, along with our like minded partners have been absolutely clear that China's attempts at coercion of Taiwan and throughout the broader region are dangerous and destabilizing. We are equally clear about our commitment to maintaining a rules based order and a free and open Indo-Pacific, as well as working together with our like minded allies and partners to preserve cross-street, peace and stability. We will not be deterred by the PRC's brazen attempts at coercion and we will continue to fly, sail and operate, including with our allies and partners, wherever international law allows. The work of the U.S.-Japan Alliance is critical to maintaining the stable foundation of deterrence that is absolutely essential to regional peace and security. 

On the Korean Peninsula, the DPRK continues to develop its nuclear weapons and missile program in violation of international law. This year, it has a conducted an unprecedented number of missile launches including an intermediate range ballistic missile flight that overflew northern Japan on October 3rd. These hostile activities are dangerous, reckless and damaging to regional and international security. Moreover, we share a serious concern over the DPRK's escalatory and destabilizing messaging related to nuclear weapons use. The United States along with Japan and others in the region have condemned these actions. We continue to reaffirm our commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In the face of the DPRK's recent actions, the United States and Japan, along with our allies and partners have responded swiftly and decisively by condemning DPRK behavior, engaging in diplomatic outreach and conducting bilateral and trilateral exercises. 

For example, on October 6th, the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea conducted a trilateral ballistic missile defense exercise in response to the DPRK ballistic missile launches. The same week, the United States conducted air exercises with the ROK and Japan, as well as a joint tactical missile live fire exercise with the ROK. Through these exercises, we are demonstrating the strength of the trilateral relationship between Japan and the ROK, in addition to enhancing interoperability with our collective forces. Given these unprecedented challenges, I want to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the defense in Japan under Article V of our mutual security treaty, including the Senkaku Islands, and our commitment to credible and resilient extended deterrence using the full range of our conventional and nuclear capabilities. 

In light of these challenges, the United States and Japan have been advancing our efforts to strengthen the alliance and modernize our roles, missions and capabilities. We are fundamentally enhancing the alliance's deterrence and response capabilities to ensure that we maintain a competitive edge. This includes reinforcing extended and integrated deterrence, improving information and cybersecurity, deepening cooperation in space, cyber and emerging technologies in coordinating bilateral planning for contingencies. 

Let me emphasize four areas of particular focus. First, as part of this alliance modernization effort, the United States and Japan are evolving our respective roles and missions so we can effectively partner with each other to conduct cross-domain operations during a regional contingency. Our ability to work together during times of crisis, in a rapidly changing environment is paramount and it forms the crux of the credible alliance deterrence and response capability. As Japan assumes a more active role in contributing a regional peace and security, we are updating the alliance's approach to bilateral roles and missions. 

Second, as we assess alliance roles and missions, we are focused on increasing interoperability to ensure our forces can collaborate seamlessly in the battle space and a variety of potential contingencies. It is through unity of effort that we will be able to utilize our alliance as a force multiplier in the Indo-Pacific. To achieve this goal, we are increasing the scale, frequency and complexity of our bilateral training exercises. For instance just this month, 1,400 Japan ground self-defense force members and 1,600 U.S. Marines conducted Resolute Dragon 22, the largest field training exercises with the U.S. Marine Corps in Japan. And in August we deployed elements of a U.S. Army Multi-Domain Task Force to Amami Island in Kagoshima prefecture as part of Orient Shield 22, including a high mobility artillery rocket system or HIMARS for the first time. Resolute Dragon, Orient Shield and exercises like them are key to strengthening U.S.-Japan defense cooperation, deepening mutual understanding and improving tactical skills and joint response capabilities at the operational level. 

Another important example of increased interoperability that I would like to highlight, is the deployment of MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles to Kanoya JSDF Bae in Kyushu. This one year deployment will enhance maritime domain awareness in the East China Sea and bolster U.S.-Japan information, surveillance and reconnaissance cooperation. Along with this deployment, we are establishing a bilateral intelligence analysis cell to analyze and share information collected by the MQ-9s, further demonstrating our ability to cooperate on information sharing and our commitment to interoperability. It is also a model for effective joint and shared use of U.S. and Japan bases, as our forces increasingly live, work and operate together as alliance partners. 

Third, we are working with the government of Japan to enhance alliance capabilities to keep pace with the growing security challenges. As the PLA is rapidly improving many of its capabilities including strike, air, missile defense, anti- submarine warfare and space and cyber, the United States and Japan are stepping up our own efforts to cooperate on advanced and emerging technologies such as unmanned systems and counter hypersonic technologies. In addition, we are committed to strengthening cross-domain capabilities in space, cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum, securing our supply chains and bolstering integrated air and ballistic missile defense. As we modernize alliance capabilities, we also reinforcing defense industrial cooperation, so that capabilities fielded by the Self-Defense Forces can work hand and glove with the United States joint force. Joint projects like the SM-3 Block IIA missile interceptor demonstrate interoperability in our resolve to work together on co-development. 

Strong information and cybersecurity underpin all of our cooperative efforts. Safeguarding sensitive information, developing proper protections and hardening our cybersecurity are all critical pillars of the alliance, and we support the government of Japan's commitment to strengthening cooperation in these areas. 

Lastly, as we work with Japan to enhance these capabilities in service of expanded roles and missions, we continually emphasize the importance of resourcing each of these priorities. As the government of Japan is preparing to release an update to its strategic guidance documents including the national security strategy, national defense program guidelines, and medium term defense program, we welcome Japan's commitment to increase defense spending to bolster its military capabilities. We also support Japan's resolve to examine all options necessary for national defense, including capabilities to counter missile threats. Throughout this process we are committed to aligning both of our country's strategies and policies in the year ahead. 

All that said, the U.S.-Japan Alliance extends well beyond what we are doing bilaterally. We also cooperate together with like-minded allies and partners to promote peace and security throughout the Indo-Pacific region, including in the Taiwan Strait and the East and South China Seas in several ways. 

First, we are deepening trilateral cooperation with our vital ally Australia. Earlier this year, Japan and Australia signed a reciprocal access agreement, establishing procedures for cooperative activities that will promote increased defense cooperation between the two countries’ defense forces. The agreement will pave the way for Japan and Australia to work more closely together to promote regional peace and stability and will facilitate increased trilateral cooperation with the United States as well. In fact, the United States and Japan just held a fruitful trilateral defense minister's meeting with Australia in Honolulu earlier this month, in which they exchanged views on the regional security environment and the steps to deepen trilateral defense cooperation, information sharing, exercises, and science and technology initiatives. This is the second time the ministers met this year, which is indicative of the commitment all three countries share to maintaining alignment on Indo-Pacific security issues, and working together on shared regional loopholes and interests. 

Looking ahead, we've agreed to enhance training opportunities between the three countries, promote coordinated responses to regional disasters and crises, and deepen cooperation on maritime capacity building and intelligence sharing. 

On the Korean Peninsula, as I've mentioned, the United States, Japan and the ROK have been strengthening our trilateral relationship in the face of DPRK provocations and common challenges in the regional security environment. Secretary of Defense Austin met with his Japanese and ROK counterparts this past June at the Shangri-La Dialogue to deepen trilateral security cooperation. President Biden, Secretary Austin and Secretary of State Blinken have specifically underscored with their respective counterparts the importance of working together to address the DPRK's destabilizing behavior and advance our shared goal of achieving the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. 

In addition to these diplomatic engagements, we're also demonstrating our resolve with trilateral exercises. As I mentioned, from August 8th through August 14th, the United State Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces and ROK Navy participated in a Pacific Dragon Missile Warning and Ballistic Missile Search and Tracking Exercise. And the United States, Japan and the ROK also came together to conduct another ballistic missile defense exercise earlier this month in response to the barrage of DPRK missile launches. This follows a successful anti-submarine warfare exercise in September which featured the participation of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier. 

Meanwhile, the United States and Japan are also working with Australia, New Zealand and other countries to support the needs and priorities of our Pacific island partners. We are coordinating and building upon each others efforts, including on security cooperation and capacity building, to bolster a multilateral engagement in this strategic area of the Indo-Pacific region. The United States and Japan are also committed to working with ASEAN and Southeast Asian partner countries on a variety of defense cooperation initiatives including capacity building, maritime domain awareness and joint exercises and training. Most recently United States and Japan participated in the 16th annual Garuda Shield exercise in August, the cornerstone of the military partnership between the United States and Indonesia. 

And finally, we are committed to furthering cooperation with our Quad partners. At the most recent Quad leader summit in Tokyo in May, we welcomed a major maritime initiative called the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, the IPMDA. In close consultation with regional partners, IPMDA will offer a near real-time integrated and cost effective maritime domain awareness picture to countries throughout the region. The United States and Japan, along with India and Australia are committed to contributing to the region’s maritime domain awareness, a fundamental requirement for peace, stability and prosperity. This burgeoning set of activities demonstrates a shared desire from our like-minded countries to increase multi-lateral engagement as the security environment surrounding Japan and its neighbors becomes more turbulent. Our trilateral relationships with Australia and with the ROK, in addition with our efforts to work with the Quad, Southeast Asia and Pacific Island countries are vital to promoting regional stability, advancing the free and open Indo-Pacific vision, and upholding a rules-based international order in the face of coercive attempts to change the status quo. 

In closing then, I want to again emphasize the significance of our values-based relationship with Japan, our commitment to strengthening and modernizing the Japan alliance and our resolve to stand against those who seek to undermine the rules based order and challenge regional stability. 

It's been a real pleasure to speak with you all today. I very much wish I was there in person, but great to talk about the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance to the Indo-Pacific and I hope you enjoy the rest of the program. Thank you very much.