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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks Welcoming Japanese Minister of Defense Yasukazu Hamada to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III:  Well, Minister Hamada, it is an honor to welcome you to the Pentagon on your first visit to Washington since Prime Minister Kishida appointed you as defense minister last month.

And of course you bring a deep understanding of defense issues, including from your previous services as defense minister. So I'm very much looking forward to working together to continue to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance.

Our alliance remains a cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. And our countries are bound by deep friendship and trust, as well as by our common interests and shared democratic values. We also share a vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order as championed by the late Prime Minister Abe.

But China's recent aggressive behavior and Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine are serious challenges to that vision. So let's be clear. China's coercive actions in the Taiwan Strait and in the waters surrounding Japan are provocative, destabilizing and unprecedented.

Our response, together with Japan and our other allies and partners, has been responsible, steady and resolute. Let me also reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan. And that includes our commitment to credible and resilient extended deterrence, using the full range of our conventional and nuclear capabilities.

So today, in the face of these challenges, we're going to discuss ways to further strengthen our defense cooperation, including our joint efforts to modernize a U.S.-Japan alliance and bolster integrated deterrence.

I also look forward to discussing ways to bolster a free and open Indo-Pacific and to further deepen our cooperation with other like-minded allies and partners, including building upon recent trilateral engagement with South Korea and Australia.

Minister Hamada, I am enormously proud of what our alliance has achieved and very optimistic about cooperating further as we prepare for the next 2+2 meeting.

Thank you again for visiting the Pentagon, and I look forward to a great discussion.

MINISTER OF DEFENSE YASUKAZU HAMADA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  Secretary Austin, I would first like to appreciate your hospitality for hosting my visit this time.

We have seen various events that are of concern for the Japan-U.S. alliance, one after another, including Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the landing of China's ballistic missiles near waters of Japan, and China and Russia's joint exercise around Japan.

We can never condone unilateral attempts to change the status quo in any parts of the world. At the same time, the aggression against Ukraine shows us the paramount importance of the will and capabilities to defend one's own country.

In order to clearly demonstrate our will and capability, I would realize fundamental reinforcement of our defense capabilities, reformulation of strategic documents, examining all options, including the so-called strike -- counter-strike capabilities. We would also work to secure a substantial increase of the defense budget needed to effect it.

In addition, I would like to continue cooperating with you, Secretary Austin, to make sure that the extended deterrence, including nuclear capabilities, remains credible and resilient.

I would like to swiftly work from where we can start together with you, Secretary Austin, towards fundamental reinforcement of our defense capabilities, as well as strengthening the alliance capabilities to deter and respond.

Thank you very much.

SEC. AUSTIN:  Thanks, everybody.