Two Plus Two Press Conference Security Consultative Committee
19th September, 1996
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We're going to be doing consecutive translations here today, so when you ask a question, I ask you to allow time so there can be a translation of the question so we keep everybody relatively well informed.
Secretary Perry and I are very pleased to welcome Foreign Minister Ikeda and Minister Usui to Washington. Today's second cabinet level meeting of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee reflects the fundamental importance of our security partnership between our two great nations.
Today we covered a broad range of subjects of our great mutual interest -- bilateral, regional and global subjects. We reaffirmed our support for the work of the Joint Special Action Committee on Okinawa. Secretary Perry will describe that in more detail.
We discussed our cooperation in Japan's production of the F-2 fighter jet. We also discussed a number of issues of great regional interest: the situation between the United States and South Korea and North Korea; Japan's strong leadership in the -- what is called KEDO -- the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization.
We also had time to discuss Iraq and Bosnia at some length. Japan has steadfastly supported U. S. actions to counter the threats in the region of the Middle East -- the most recent threats by Iraq's Saddam Hussein. And certainly, Japan has contributed very significantly both in the Middle East and in Bosnia to financial efforts of reconstruction in Bosnia as well as in Gaza and the West Bank.
We greatly appreciate Japan's assistance in all these matters. I want to emphasize also that our working together on a common agenda has been one of the major developments of recent years where we worked together on such issues as the environment, population, and AIDS.
The renewal of our security partnership has been at the heart of a strengthening of our overall relationship. This of course includes as well our trade relations where we have reached 22 market access agreements over the last three years. The importance of this basic relationship will be underscored once again by a meeting of President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto at the U. N. General Assembly meeting in New York next week.
I welcome the two Ministers and all their colleagues here to Washington for what has been a splendid meeting, a reflection of the strong partnership between our two countries which, over the last several years, has grown rapidly in strength and dimension.
MINISTER IKEDA: (Through Interpreter) Thank you, very much. In today's meeting of the SCC, we were engaged in the discussion of how to deepen the security cooperation between the two countries which were given direction by the earlier joint declaration on security issues between Japan and the United States.
We discussed in this context the reduction, realignment and consolidation of the U.S. forces' areas and facilities in Okinawa, as well as the review of guidelines for the defense cooperation between the two countries. And also we had an extended discussion over international issues of mutual interest, including the situation in the Korean Peninsula as well as the situation in Iraq.
With regard to the process of a Special Action Committee on Okinawa, we reviewed the progress which has been made since the issuance of the interim report earlier, and we renewed our firm commitment to engage in an ever vigorous joint effort to bring about a successful conclusion of the process in November.
As for the alternative heliport considered for the take-over functions of Futenma Air Station, we have agreed to establish a special working group to discuss and consider three possibilities, including the construction of a floating officer facility, which was earlier suggested by the U.S. side. And we have agreed to continue on our very vigorous joint effort in this regard.
In closing, I would like to express my deep appreciation for all the efforts which have been put in on the U. S. side for this cooperation, especially the roles played by Secretary Christopher and Secretary Perry. And I believe that, as Secretary Perry -- Secretary Christopher, excuse me -- Secretary Perry earlier mentioned that such cooperative relationship between the two countries will not only benefit both of us, but it will be deepened further in the context of a global cooperation. And I do hope that the meeting today will have made some contribution in that direction.
Thank you, very much.
SECRETARY PERRY: The security relationship between the United States and Japan is the foundation of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. We maintain about 100,000 troops in Asia; nearly half of them are stationed in Japan.
In light of the recent incorrect press reports, I want to state clearly that we have no plans to change our troop levels in Japan.
In April, President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto reaffirmed the continued presence of U.S. military forces in the region. They also reaffirmed the importance of the Mutual Security Treaty and they chartered a course for the future.
The first step is a review of the U.S.-Japan defense guidelines. This is a significant step in adapting our alliance for the 21st Century. The guidelines were drafted almost 20 years ago during the Cold War. So, we have begun the process of producing an updated blueprint for future defense cooperation between the U.S. Armed Forces and Japan's Self-Defense Forces.
The revised guidelines will lead to increased cooperation in the framework of our security treaty and in the framework of the Japanese constitution. The course they will set supports stability and peace in the region, a goal that is important not just to the United States and Japan but also to China and to other nations in the region.
Second, it was clear at our meeting a year ago that the road to a stronger alliance leads through Okinawa. We take our commitment to the Special Action Committee on Okinawa seriously because we are determined to be good neighbors. That is why we have been working very hard since last November, well before the recent referendum, to relieve the burden of our military presence in Okinawan communities, while, at the same time, maintaining our full operational readiness and capabilities.
We are committed to, and fully expect to, complete the process successfully, including agreement on relocating the Futenma Air Base on schedule by the end of November.
To that end, we made the decision today to conduct intensive studies of three possible solutions.
Alternative One is to incorporate a heliport into Kadena Air Base.
Alternative Two is to construct a heliport at Camp Schwab.
Alternative Three is to develop and construct a floating off-shore facility, using advance technology and engineering.
We discussed cooperation in other areas as well. The F-2 fighter aircraft program is just one example.
Japan will spend over $10 billion producing the F-2, with over $4 billion going to American companies and creating American jobs.
The F-2 is an important bilateral achievement of which both Japan and the United States can be proud.
We also agreed to study two new initiatives. The first is to study measures to enhance consultations about urgent situations through the use of new technologies, such as secure video systems.
The second study will explore new areas for increasing training opportunities.
I want to thank Foreign Minister Ikeda and Minister Usui for coming to Washington for this 2-Plus-2 meeting.
And I look forward to continuing our dialogue.
MINISTER USUI: (Through interpreter) I think the very fact that this SCC meeting had been able to take place with full ministerial participation points to the very thoughtful consideration given to this very important meeting on the part of both Secretary Christopher, Secretary Perry, and all those involved in the process.
As was explained earlier from Secretary Perry, there were very constructive discussions over a wide range of issues, including some of the proposals which were explained to you earlier by Secretary Perry in a very warm atmosphere.
I was very much impressed that this process has brought together the hearts of all of us who have been involved in it.
On the issue of the U.S. bases in Okinawa and their realignment, consolidation, and reduction, we recommitted ourselves to the move forward, mindful of the burden which is shouldered by the local community and with a long-term perspective of maintaining a solid alliance between Japan and the United States.
As was mentioned earlier, we have agreed to discuss and consider three possibilities suggested for the relocation of functions of Futenman Air Station. We have also recommitted ourselves to make an utmost joint effort between the two countries as we approach the issuance of a final report of the cycle expected in November.
Concerning a review of the guidelines for defense cooperation between the two countries, I am very happy to note that we have been able to agree on the need to promote further the cooperation between the two countries in defense areas so as to provide for the transparency, or the process with which we are engaged in the review of the guideline. We are happy to present to you the progress report on this matter which, I hope, would help to facilitate the understanding on the part of the public at large on the process which we have been engaged in and which we are engaged in.
I hope that this kind of frank exchange of views sustaining the solid alliance between the two countries will be continued. I would like to express my commitment to continue in a very serious and genuine joint effort in this area.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: (Through interpreter) The question is directed toward Secretary Perry. The question is, in the context of the alternative heliport facilities to be constructed, will this U.S. new proposal of a floating off-shore facility be a center of the discussion? If that is the case, what is your views or prospects of the operational feasibility of this plan, including the transportation of personnel involved?
SECRETARY PERRY: The floating off-shore facility is just one of three alternatives that we will be making an intensive study of. It is premature to predict at this time which of the three will be selected.
The study will consider the operational factors that you mentioned. It will also consider the technical feasibility and cost.
A technology solution like that is very appealing to both Japanese and Americans, both of whom are very strong in technology.
The visionary in me hopes this floating off-shore facility will be the solution to the problem.
But I'm also an engineer. And the engineer in me recognizes that there are difficult technical problems, including the ones I've described. We must be absolutely sure that we understand them before we make a decision.
A joint United States-Japanese team has been established to do this intensive study.