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Remarks by Secretary Carter and Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo, Japan

      STAFF:  Prime minister of Japan.


      JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  I'd like to extend a heartfelt welcome upon your return.  In the past four years under the administration of President Obama, we successfully and significantly reinforced the alliance between Japan and the United States.  And I'd like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation of all your contribution as the secretary of defense. 


      At the end of this month, I will visit Hawaii.  And during my visit, I will have a bilateral meeting with President Obama.  And we, together, visit the Pearl Harbor as well as USS Arizona Memorial where we will pray for the souls of the war vets.  And on that occasion, I would like to demonstrate my determination for the future that we must never again repeat the devastation of war.


      And also, I would like to express my appreciation for your support in the impact mitigation in Okinawa with regard to the return of the total of 4,000 acres in the Northern Training Area.  We sincerely hope to realize the return through our collaboration and cooperation on the 22nd of this month.


      SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER:  Prime minister, thank you.  Very good to see you again, see your -- (inaudible) -- again.  Thank you for allowing me to visit one of your excellent ships today, the -- (inaudible).


      You wanna -- (inaudible)?


      Like you, I believe and we all believe that the alliance between the United States and Japan has never been stronger than it is today.  That is truly an important measure because of your vision and your leadership, as well as our commitment and President Obama's commitment.


      And this is critical.  It is the cornerstone of security in the Asia-Pacific, now and in the future, even as it had been in the past.  And I also know that President Obama is very much looking forward to your visit to Hawaii.  And you're right, your doing so and your two meeting is a great sign of a joint commitment to peace and also to reconciliation.


      And then last, we share your commitment to the realignment and are prepared to make the largest land transfer in the history of our alliance.  And I can confirm to you that we share your objective of completing that by December 22nd of this month.