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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks Welcoming Japanese Defense Minister Kihara Minoru to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III:  Well, Mr. Minister, it's an honor to meet you here so soon after we spoke last week. Congratulations again on being appointed Minister of Defense. 

As you know, I had a great visit to Tokyo in June. And this is a time of historic momentum in the U.S.-Japan alliance. We support your government's bold decisions to invest in advanced capabilities, including counter-strike, and to increase spend -- defense spending to two percent of Japan's GDP by 2027. And the strategic alignment between our two countries is unprecedented. I look forward to working closely with you to make our alliance even closer.

Now we face major shared challenges, including the PRC's coercive behavior and North Korea's dangerous provocations, and Russia's reckless war of choice against Ukraine, but America's Article 5 treaty commitment to the defense of Japan remains ironclad and it covers all territories under Japan's administration, including the Senkaku Islands.

Mr. Minister, we share a vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific and for peace and prosperity for our peoples. We're modernizing our alliance to tackle shared challenges. After the historic announcements at our 2+2 meeting in January, our force posture is becoming more versatile, more mobile, and more resilient. And we're also investing in stronger ties with our friends across the region, especially our allies in the Republic of Korea.

In August, our three leaders advanced a new era of trilateral partnership during their historic summit at Camp David. And we're dedicated to delivering on their ambitious course for mutual defense, including by exercising our forces together under a multi-year trilateral framework, sharing real time missile warning data, and strengthening our secure lines of communication.

The United States is also encouraged to see Japan working more closely together with allies like Australia. And I was glad to see that last month, F-35s from Australia operated in Japan for Exercise Bushido Guardian, and just days after, F-35s from Japan operated in Australia for the first time. And that kind of teamwork among some of our closest allies makes the Indo-Pacific region safer and more secure.

And so Mr. Minister, I'm pleased to welcome you here today and I look forward to a great discussion.

DEFENSE MINISTER KIHARA MINORU (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  I thank you very much for your kind words of congratulations for my becoming Defense Minister. And I am very pleased to have a meeting with you again, now this time face to face, shortly after we had a teleconference the other day. I'm grateful for that.

Unilateral changes to the status quo by force and such attempts can never be condoned at any part of the world, including the Indo-Pacific region, and we need to strengthen alliance capabilities to deter and respond to that (inaudible). I truly appreciate you have strongly reaffirmed the ironclad commitment that Article 5 applies to Senkaku Islands.

Secretary Austin, I would like to continue discussions on the roles and missions of the alliance under the new strategies formulated last year and continue to -- close cooperation on various efforts for strengthening the alliance with you.

SEC. AUSTIN:  Thanks, everybody.