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Media Availability with Secretary Mattis and Defense Minister Onodera, Tokyo, Japan

June 29, 2018
Secretary Of Defense James N. Mattis; Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera

MINISTER OF DEFENSE ITSUNORI ONODERA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  In last hour, we held a defense -- (inaudible) -- meeting –- with a U.S defense official Secretary Mattis.

In the meeting we -- (inaudible) -- as defense agencies on future response to -- (inaudible) -- on the (inaudible).  We agree that the -- (inaudible) -- of the U.N. security resolution, Japan and the U.S. offered together in coordination with international -- (inaudible) -- continent of all of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction, including biological and chemical weapons -- (inaudible) -- of all agents.  We agree to continue to counter the -- (inaudible) -- by North Korea in coordination with our partner countries. 

And Secretary Mattis has -- (inaudible) -- his commitment to the defense of Japan.  -- (inaudible) -- capability of the alliance.

Secretary Mattis -- (inaudible) -- on the outcome of his Chinese efforts, and -- (inaudible) -- candid and open exchange of views.  -- we share our understanding of the situation (inaudible).  And once again, reaffirm that Article 5 of the Japan -- (inaudible) -- security treaty applies to the (inaudible).  (inaudible) -- continued bilateral commitment to the South China Sea.

We confirm the -- (inaudible) -- for USA's help, and agreed that the two countries will continue to work together.

Lastly, we agree that Japan, who has -- (inaudible) -- implementation of -- (inaudible) -- of U.S. forces in Japan.

And I also -- (inaudible) -- that U.S. forces ensure safe operations, given the recent crash of the F-15 fighters off the coast of Okinawa, and -- (inaudible) -- on privately owned land.

(inaudible) -- that there is a chance of discussion on these issues, including North Korea and China immediately -- (inaudible) -- to China and South Korea.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES N. MATTIS:  Thank you, Minister Onodera.  And -- (inaudible) -- also thank you for saving the life of our pilot who went down at sea.  He's back home with his family, recovering from his injuries.  And both our Navy and his families send their sincere gratitude to you.

At the Singapore Shangri-La Dialogue earlier this month, I publicly shared America's vision for a safe, secure, prosperous and free Indo-Pacific where all nations enjoy the full benefits of sovereignty and independence.

In support of this vision, this is my seventh trip as secretary of defense in the Indo-Pacific region.  And as you noted this morning, Minister Onodera, this is the fifth meeting between you and I in recent times.

And these visits represent just how strongly we prioritize this relationship between our two militaries.  I think it's fitting for trusted allies as America continues to look west and to strengthen long-standing alliances as specified in President Trump's Indo-Pacific Strategy.

The U.S.-Japan alliance is a cornerstone of Indo-Pacific stability, and our commitment to this alliance remains ironclad with a long-term ally.

And in support of Indo-Pacific stability, today Minister Onodera and I discussed the opportunities to increase our alliance's capability and deepen our cooperation and to enhance regional security.

I'm also encouraged by our joint efforts to improve the foreign military sales process for Japan, while ensuring our cutting-edge technologies, which we share with very few, remain protected.

And regarding the Korean Peninsula situation, our diplomats are firmly in the lead, and aligned with the agreement signed by President Trump and Chairman Kim at their summit earlier this month.  As our diplomats work to bring this agreement to fruition, the U.S. military, in close coordination with our allies and partners, continues its clear-eyed approach, supporting international sanctions and multiple unanimous U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Mr. Minister, thank you for Japan's continued partnership for enforcement of these sanctions, as we firmly support our diplomats' efforts to resolve the situation and to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

We also recognize the importance of the Japanese abductee issue, something President Trump raised at the last summit, and a humanitarian issue always present in our deliberations.

Regarding the pause in U.S.-ROK joint military exercises, this decision was taken to create space for our diplomats to negotiate strongly, and increasing the prospects for a peaceful solution on the peninsula.

At the same time, we maintain a strong, collaborative defensive stance to ensure our diplomats continue to negotiate from a position of unquestioned strength.

Our objective remains the complete, irreversible and verifiable dismantling of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  Especially now, we remain vigilant, and I thank Japan for its ceaseless efforts to promote stability and security.

This week, I also traveled to Beijing, and our relationship with China will be defined by our ability to competitively coexist.  We look to cooperate where and when possible, and we will compete vigorously where we must.

We wish to -- we wish to work with all nations to promote long-term peace and prosperity for all in this dynamic region.  And alongside Japan, we remain committed to maintaining that long-term peace and security with respect for all nations' sovereignty and territorial integrity, bringing stability and economic prosperity for all in the Indo-Pacific.

Minister Onodera, I listened carefully today in our bilat, and I appreciate your insights on how we can move forward in even closer cooperation on these and other matters.

SEC. MATTIS:  (inaudible)… in our bilat, and I appreciate your insights on how we can move forward in even closer cooperation on these and other matters. 

And lastly, I cannot come to Tokyo today without offering America's condolences to the people of Japan for your loss of life in the recent earthquake, and I pay our respects to the families who lost loved ones.  



Q:  Yes, Mr. Secretary, what specific assurances are you providing to Japan that their security interests are not going to be harmed by the nuclear deal with North Korea?

And a clarification from Minister Onodera, if I may, on whether the specific security concerns that remain for Japan about the nuclear deal.

SEC. MATTIS:  Ladies and gentlemen, we're in the midst of very unprecedented negotiations right now with North Korea.  But in this dynamic time, the long-standing alliance between Japan and the United States stands firm.  There is absolute reassurance between the two of us that we stand firm.  And we are not going to take our alliance with another democratic and free nation into account in this separate negotiation.  So it stands firm.

MIN. ONODERA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  If the distance -- (inaudible) -- Japan, and thus, we will continue to talk with the United States -- (inaudible) -- be able to cooperate -- (inaudible).