"Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa:
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Secretary Gates. We had discussions at the Japan-US Defense Minister's Meeting for over 45 minutes. Including meetings with the early administration, I understand that this is the third Defense Minister's meeting this year. There have been frequent exchanges between Japan and the United States. I think it was quite meaningful that so early following the inauguration of the new administration we had this opportunity to discuss various challenges for Japan and the US in the security area. I warmly welcome Secretary Gates to Japan.
Now, turning to the substance of today's Defense Minister's meeting, we first recognized and confirmed the significance of the Japan-US alliance. We then exchanged views on regional situations, and also said that we will consider concrete cooperation items in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of Japan-US Security Treaty revision next year.
On the policy side, we discussed important alliance-related issues and global security-related issues, such as the realignment of US forces in Japan, and support in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We explained Japan's position on these, and we were also able to hear a very candid expression of views from the US side.
We also confirmed that there has been steady progress in missile defense cooperation between Japan and the United States, and confirmed that we shall continue to advance such cooperation.
We also exchanged views on the review of the National Defense Program Guidelines 9 in Japan, and the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review in the United States, and that we will make sure that there is firm coordination between our two countries.
With regard to information security, needless to say, we need to further improve this to a fully reliable level.
We also discussed the promotion of cooperation in the area of disaster relief. This, I believe, will be very useful and meaningful in terms of Japan-US cooperation in relation to global challenges. With regard to host nation support, while it has been declining somewhat, I said that while maintaining maximum transparency, we would like to maintain host nation support, and we heard from the US that they wish to actively promote consultations on this matter.
I briefly touched on disaster relief earlier - between myself and Secretary Gates, we had a complete meeting of minds, and I think that this is an area where we can further promote cooperation, an area where our ties are strongest.
As we go through various consultations with the US side, what Secretary Gates said was very impressive. While we do face various issues, the current moment should be turned into a good opportunity to further advance the Japan-US alliance. We should listen to the other side's remarks, even those that we do not wish to listen to - by accepting those words, we should try and further improve our coordination.
For the further strengthening of the Japan-US alliance, I shall engage in discussions with other cabinet ministers concerned, and especially with regard to the realignment of US forces in Japan, I believe that it is very important that we share a determination for national defense. I do not think that we have the luxury of wasting much time on this. In order for us to overcome this issue, I believe that efforts on the Japanese side will be very important. Also, I believe it is important that we move in a direction where we can gain an understanding of the US side. Thank you very much.
Secretary Gates please.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates:
Thank you, Mr. Minister. And let me express to you my thanks for hosting these very productive talks.
Japan and the United States are nearing the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security - a half century of partnership and cooperation based on shared interests and shared values. It is the cornerstone of our security policy in Asia.
There will be many opportunities over the coming year to celebrate all that we have achieved together. The true legacy of the last 50 years is the enormous potential we have to strengthen our ties in order to tackle security challenges as an alliance of equals in the 21st century.
Minister Kitazawa and I discussed a range of matters of mutual interests. I should note that many of these issues will also be on the agenda for the president's visit next month, and I would add -- I passed on to the prime minister and the foreign minister and defense minister how much President Obama is looking forward to coming to Japan next month.
The issues we discussed included the importance of our bilateral realignment road map, its strategic benefits to the U.S., Japan and the region -- (inaudible) -- the importance of moving forward expeditiously on the road map as agreed.
There are the challenges facing Afghanistan and Pakistan where I expressed my appreciation for all that Japan's self-defense forces have done in that region with regard to refueling and economic reconstruction and security assistance. We appreciate Japan stepping forward in other areas such as piracy, and the international community will continue to expect Japan to exercise leadership in meeting global security challenges.
There is the possibility of strengthening bilateral coordination on regional disaster response, a priority for both of our governments.
The minister and I spoke about how to work together as an alliance to achieve our shared objective of a denuclearized North Korea. And we discussed the importance of Japan's host nation support, which the U.S. views as a strategic pillar of the alliance that reflects Japan's commitment to our relationship.
We look forward to working with the new government here in Japan, and I especially look forward to working alongside Minister Kitazawa and building on the legacy of the last 50 years to strengthen and deepen our partnership for the future.
I am Miura with the Tokyo Shimbun. Secretary Gates, Minister Kitazawa, thank you very much. First, with regard to the relocation of Futenma Air Station, a question to both of you. First, Minister Kitazawa, Secretary Gates stressed that it is important to press ahead with the existing roadmap, and that this is the only realistic and viable roadmap. I wonder how you expressed Japan's views? I understand that you studied the Kadena idea and Shimoji-shima idea, and I wonder if you discussed these ideas as well?
A question for Secretary Gates: the Japanese side has been saying that through the examination of the process, we would like to consider the possibility of relocating out of Okinawa Prefecture, and also over time they would like to come up with good results. I wonder what your thoughts are on this? What is the time limit, and what are your thoughts regarding the idea of moving the runway 50 meters off shore?
Defense Minister Kitazawa:
First, let me respond to that. Secretary Gates conveyed to us a very strong message on the Japan-US agreement. I mentioned a change in government and also referred to a changing political situation in Okinawa, and I fully explained it. I early on visited the area, and sensed that the relocation of Futenma Air Station and the return of the land is a mission given by heaven to me. Therefore, I shall firmly address this issue. Also, we, the Japanese government, are engaged in an examination of the past process, and the US side has been very cooperative, and I expressed my appreciation for that.
For Japan and the US, I do not think it will be constructive to spend too much time on this, and that is my awareness, and I shared this awareness with Secretary Gates. There are many difficult hurdles that we need to clear, but overcoming these hurdles, I believe, will be very important in maintaining the good relationship between Japan and the US.
Defense Secretary Gates:
First of all, we are very sympathetic to the desire of the new government in Japan to review the realignment road map. This was done at the beginning of the administration of President Obama and the United States. It was done in a timely enough way that Secretary of State Clinton was able to sign the Guam International Agreement in February with the Japanese foreign minister.
Our view is clear. The Futenma relocation facility is the lynchpin of the realignment road map. Without the Futenma realignment, the Futenma facility, there will be no relocation to Guam. And without relocation to Guam, there will be no consolidation of forces and the return of land in Okinawa.
Our view is this may not be the perfect alternative for anyone, but it is the best alternative for everyone, and it is time to move on.
We are -- feel strongly that this is a complex agreement, negotiated over a period of many years. It is interlocking -- (inaudible) ? immensely complicated and counterproductive. We have investigated all of the alternatives in great detail and believe that they are both politically untenable and operationally unworkable.
With respect to a time limit, we have not talked in terms of a time limit, but rather the need to progress as quickly as possible.
And finally, with respect to some modest change in the runway of a few tens of meters or whatever, we regard that as a matter between the government of Okinawa and the people of Okinawa and the government here in Tokyo, and our only caveat would be that it not slow the implementation process.
Question: Secretary Gates, on Afghanistan, considering some of the concerns that have been raised about a potential rift between the military and the White House because of delays in making a decision on Afghanistan strategy, do you think it's important to make a decision before the November 7th runoff scheduled in Afghanistan? And have you come to a decision in your own mind about the best way forward?
Defense Secretary Gates:
Well, first of all, I would just say that these stories may make good reading, but they are not a reflection of reality. There has been a very close, collaborative effort between our military officers and the civilian side of the government meeting almost on a daily basis, including our commanders in the field as we work our way through the complicated issues associated with the election in Afghanistan and also the more difficult situation that General McChrystal found when he got there.
So these rumors of some kind of a rift, I think, are just not accurate and do not reflect the close working effort between our military and civilians, both in the Department of Defense and with other elements of the government as we try and work our way through this very complicated situation in Afghanistan. My concerns and the comments that I made yesterday with respect to legitimacy were really about the overall legitimacy of the Afghan government in the eyes of its own people, and it goes well beyond simply having an outcome to the presidential election in Afghanistan. Clearly, having the runoff, getting that behind us and then moving forward is very important, and I think that having some clarity in that makes a lot of sense because I think it gives us the likelihood of an outcome pretty quickly. But I think that we need to be realistic that the issues of corruption and governance that we are trying to work with the Afghan government on are not going to be solved simply by the outcome of a presidential election. This is going to be a work in progress, an evolutionary effort, and we need to be realistic about them.
Question: Sengoku with the Mainichi Shimbun, on Indian Ocean replenishment and Afghanistan support. First, Minister Kitazawa, on January 15 next year, replenishment operations will end. I wonder how you communicated Japan's position on that. With regard to Afghanistan support, you expressed in a press meeting that civilian measures would not be enough. I wonder what sort of contributions you can make?
A question for Secretary Gates: Japan likely will withdraw its replenishment operations in January of next year, how do you respond to that? In replacement for that, what sort of contributions do you seek from Japanese defense forces in Afghanistan?
Defense Minister Kitazawa:
Allow me to respond first. With regard to the refueling operations, Secretary Gates referred to the contributions made so far, and he said that he highly appreciated these contributions. At the same time, whether to continue this policy or not is entirely up to Japan to decide - he stated that very explicitly. As for alternatives in place of the refueling operations, as I have already been saying, in view of global public opinion, would it be adequate for Japan to simply provide civilian support measures? I myself feel that would be rather difficult. But then, what sort of activities should the Self-Defense Forces engage in? We haven't worked out those details yet, but I have instructed the working-level people of the Ministry of Defense to consider what sort of operations would be conceivable. It is up to the Hatoyama administration to decide which measures to take.
Defense Secretary Gates:
The minister has actually characterized my views quite accurately. I expressed our appreciation for the replenishment effort and made clear that it made a contribution to a number of nations. The reality is the United States is not the primary beneficiary of the replenishment effort; others of our partners are, and we'll have to look at alternatives should the replenishing mission end. But I also, as the minister said, made clear that as far as we're concerned, that's a decision that's up to the government of Japan. That said, there are robust opportunities for additional kinds of assistance to Afghanistan. I know that there is interest in economic development and agricultural development, but I would also say that a real need is for financial support for the expansion and sustainment of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, and we would only hope that Japan's contribution will be commensurate with its standing as one of the greatest powers in the world.
Question: For both of you, given how much has changed in the U.S.-Japanese relationship since the alliance was founded and the new government's desire here to modify or adjust that alliance, what does Japan concretely have in mind at doing to change or alter or improve the alliance? And then for the U.S. Defense Secretary, what should the role be of the U.S. military here and in the region? And should that role be scaled back or somehow changed?
Defense Minister Kitazawa:
Let me respond. With the inauguration of the new administration - of course, the Hatoyama administration has been speaking of an equal relationship between Japan and the United States, but then, have past Japan-US relations been on equal footing? That is not the question we are asking. Rather, as a new administration, the DPJ administration, we want to fully communicate our views to the US side. Also, as a most urgent question, with regard to the realignment of US forces in Okinawa, it so happens that there was an agreement between Prime Minister Hashimoto and Ambassador Mondale, and over the past thirteen years or so this has been addressed, but we were in an opposition party and we did not have detailed information. So we are examining this past process. We have received detailed information from the US side in this process, and by going through this process, we will be building a new Japan-US relationship. That is our thinking. The Japan-US relationship will be the cornerstone for us as we try to establish peace and friendship in the Asia-Pacific region. We hope you will regard this as a step forward from a global perspective.
Defense Secretary Gates:
I commented to the minister this morning that one of the biggest changes that I had seen between the time I left the government in 1993 and returning to government in 2006 was the extraordinary improvement in the relationship between the United States and Japan and how much closer the alliance is now than it was even 13 years ago, 15 years ago now.
It seems to me that the primary purpose of our alliance from a military standpoint is to provide for the security of Japan. This defense umbrella has protected Japan for, now, nearly 50 years. It allows Japan to have a defense budget, a self-defense force budget of roughly one percent of GDP. But I think the alliance also represents a shared interest between the United States and Japan in terms of regional security, and the capabilities that we have here in Japan make an important contribution to that regional security in a time, if anything, is becoming more complex with developments in North Korea and elsewhere than in the past.
I would say there are many opportunities to expand the relationship. We already are doing a great deal together on missile defense as the minister mentioned earlier. We're talking about how we can expand our military-to-military cooperation and interoperability in areas such as disaster assistance and humanitarian relief where we both have common interests.
I made the comment to the minister in our meeting that in some ways as you look around this part of the world and recent developments in places like Indonesia and the Philippines, the greatest enemy seems to be Mother Nature, and we have the capabilities to deal with the consequences of some of these disasters, working together.
So I think that there's great opportunity to expand this relationship and strengthen it, even as we strengthen our relationships with our countries in the region."