Remarks by Acting Secretary Shanahan at an Enhanced Honor Cordon and Meeting Welcoming Japanese Minister Of Defense Takeshi Iwaya to the Pentagon

Jan. 16, 2019
Acting Secretary Of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan; Japan Minister of Defense Takeshi Iwaya

ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PATRICK SHANAHAN:  Before we get started, I'd like to make a statement about today's incident in Syria.

Allow me to extend, on behalf of the Department of Defense, our thoughts and prayers to the families and team members of those killed and wounded during today's attack in Manbij.  

Our fight against terrorism is ongoing, and we will remain vigilant and committed to its destruction.

Today's a stark reminder of the dangerous missions our men and women in uniform perform on our behalf each and every day.

Minister Iwaya, and members of the delegation, welcome to Washington.  The United States Department of Defense continues to follow our national defense strategies' three lines of effort: increasing lethality, strengthening alliances and building new partnerships, and driving reforms. Today's meeting shows we're holding that course.

Minister, I understand this is your first visit to the Pentagon as minister of defense.  

This is my first meeting with a foreign defense minister since I became acting secretary.  I think this is fitting, given the deep, long-standing relationship between Japan and the United States.  I look forward to building a strong, personal relationship with you, like our predecessors have. I know it will be strong because it is founded on trust.

The American people hold great affection for the people of Japan. There is a natural fit between our enterprising and hard-working cultures, and especially the values we embrace – democracy, fundamental human dignity, and the rule of law.  The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of a free and open Indo-Pacific where those values can thrive.  

President Trump and Prime Minister Abe have identified maintaining that free and open Indo-Pacific is a top strategic priority.

In December, Japan released its revised National Defense Program Guidelines, the strategic vision for your self-defense forces. We were grateful for the opportunity to have worked with you as you developed that vision. I applaud your emphasis on high-tech domains, such as cyber and space. Leveraging our technological and military cooperation lets us expand the box for greater regional security.

Today, we'll discuss a number of issues relating to regional security, including North Korea. The United States is committed to the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea. And I thank Japan for its leadership in enforcing U.N. Security Council Resolution sanctions. Additionally, I look forward to discussing ways of increasing our shared alliance capabilities.  

We have a number of tools available to us. Our foreign military sales program is an especially powerful one. Another example of our alliance, this week Japanese ground self-defense forces and U.S. Marines began bilateral amphibious exercises together at Camp Pendleton in California.  

Minister, to close, we know a free, open, and prosperous Asia needs a secure Japan and a committed United States. Let me just add, I believe in this relationship, one that is grounded in trust. We have the experience, credibility, creativity, discipline, innovation, and the courage required. No situation is too complicated for us. I have no doubt our friendship will generate solutions to our shared challenges.  

Lastly, I am a 24-hour, seven day a week person. Should you need anything, no matter what time it is in Tokyo, call me. I will answer.

Thank you again for coming.  The minister of defense for Japan is a welcome friend in the Pentagon.

Now, I invite you for your comments.  

JAPAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE TAKESHI IWAYA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  Thank you very much, Acting Secretary Shanahan. It is my great pleasure to visit here in the Pentagon. And as you mentioned, this is my first visit as the defense minister to the Pentagon. But it is also my great pleasure that I am the first guest, the first foreign defense minister guest to you. It is my great pleasure. 

As you testified, Mr. Secretary, last December we formulated a new National Defense Program Guidelines, as well as the Mid-Term Defense Program, which specifies a five-year defense spending and procurement plan on the Ministry of Defense and self-defense forces.  

Changes in security environments surrounding our nation are occurring at an extremely rapid, high speed.  Therefore, Japan aims to dramatically update our defense posture to expand roles that Japan can play. So, we are also eager to transform our defense structure at a speed fundamentally different from the past.  

The Japan-U.S. alliance relationship is the cornerstone of our national security. And this alliance relationship is playing a great role for the peace and stability of the whole international community.  So, pursuant to the guidance presented in our defense policy documents which are NDPG and MTDP, we are eager to even strengthen this alliance capability and relationship.  

Led by ideas articulated in the new defense policy document, I very much am looking forward to today's discussion on the future direction and steps for the Japan-U.S. alliance, and also on the various items that you have just touched upon. And also, we will be discussing other regional threats, especially North Korea, which is a serious threat to our nation.

And last but not least, I would like to extend my condolences to the U.S. troop members who lost their lives in the attack in Syria.  

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Thank you very much.  

MIN. IWAYA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  Thank you very much.

SEC. SHANAHAN:  OK.  I think we'll transition to -- 

Q:  Mr. Secretary, does the attack affect the Syria withdrawal at all?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Well, what I'd normally say is we would take a few questions, but our -- our agenda today is so packed that I didn't want -- I don't want to shortchange our guests.  But, look forward to talking to you in the future.