SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I hope it's not too early to say that this could be the beginning of a beautiful personal friendship.
Foreign Minister Obuchi, Minister Kyuma, Secretary Cohen and I have just concluded a US-Japan Security Consultative Committee Meeting, also known as the two-plus-two. We had an excellent discussion that covered a broad range of security and regional issues.
I am pleased to announce that we have approved new guidelines for US-Japan Defense Cooperation. By replacing 1978 guidelines that focused largely on the Cold War era threat, we have reinvigorated our partnership to meet the challenges of this new era.
The new guidelines were requested by President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto during their April 1996 meeting to reinforce our security alliance, which is crucial to our common security and the foundation of all our bilateral ties. This agreement ensures that our two countries will continue to maintain a robust and dynamic alliance that ensures our shared security. And it promotes the peace and stability of all nations in the Asia-Pacific.
In our meeting today, we also reviewed Japan's host nation support and the implementation of the final report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa. Secretary Cohen will describe those discussions in more detail.
In our talks on regional issues, we discussed our respective bilateral relations with China, the current state of play in the Four-Party talks on Korea, and our shared support for Russia as a democratic partner in the Pacific.
Our partnership with Japan is central to many of the issues we will be working this week in New York, from nuclear non-proliferation and UN reform to protecting the environment and promoting development in Africa. I am very pleased to have met Japan's new team, and glad to report that this crucial relationship is in excellent shape.
FOREIGN MINISTER OBUCHI: Thank you very much, Secretary Albright.
First of all, I would like to say I am very grateful for the very warm welcome extended me by Secretary Albright, as well as Secretary Cohen, at this meeting of the Security Consultative Committee, so soon after my assumption of the portfolio as Foreign Minister. I was very happy to have had very good discussions in good faith. While time was very much limited today, we've been able to have a very useful exchange of views.
Needless to say, the greatest achievement of our meeting today was the adoption of the new guidelines for Japan-US defense cooperation. This is indeed the first time since 19 years ago, when the original guidelines were adopted. With the new guidelines, I trust that the Japan-US defense cooperation can proceed in a very close manner and in a positive manner.
I am confident that the new guidelines indeed provide a very substantive foundation for Japan-US defense cooperation under normal circumstances, as well as in contingencies. Under the new guidelines, we'll be seeing various programs, bilateral between Japan and the United States. And I am confident that in these bilateral programs, as well, we shall be able to see very close consultations and coordination between those concerned in the two governments.
In conducting our bilateral programs, we shall continue to maintain transparency.
As in the case of the various programs being conducted on the new guidelines, we also consider those programs related to the US forces, US bases in Okinawa-especially the steady implementation of the final report of SACO, the Special Action Committee on Okinawa-to be one of the top priority tasks that Japan-US security system has to work on.
On this occasion, I would like to confirm the determination of the government of Japan to continue to do its utmost on these issues, and also would like to express our gratitude to the US Government for the good faith efforts that have been made on these issues.
SECRETARY COHEN: I'll try not to be too redundant to what has been said already. But let me say that the security relationship between the United States and Japan is the foundation for stability and peace and prosperity in the entire Asia-Pacific region.
President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto confirmed this last year when they signed the joint security declaration in Tokyo. So today marks a very historic moment in our alliance-the completion of these new guidelines for defense cooperation.
As Secretary Albright indicated, these guidelines being updated are designed to help face the challenges not of the past, but of the future, and to bring us into the 21st century in this relationship. These new guidelines are going to facilitate greater cooperation in such areas as logistical support, search and rescue operations following disasters. They outline how our governments are going to work together if Japan faces a threatened or an actual attack.
The guidelines provide for cooperation and coordination in response to challenges to Japan's peace and security and in situations and areas surrounding Japan. The new guidelines are not aimed at any individual nation, any third nation. But by strengthening the security relationship benefits with Japan, it benefits all of the countries in the region.
America's policy in Asia has several pillars-cooperation with Japan; engagement with China; eventual peace on the Korean Peninsula; and the forward presence of 100,000 troops in the region. All of these pillars support peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
The alliance between the United States and Japan has helped to produce, bring peace and prosperity and stability throughout the Asian-Pacific region in the past generations. These new guidelines are designed to ensure that our alliance is going to be the corner stone of Asia peace and prosperity for the 21st century.
DEFENSE MINISTER KYUMA: It is most gratifying that by receiving the final report on the review of the defense guidelines, which have continued ever since the joint declaration between President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto in April of last year, we have been able to adopt the final report.
The new guidelines clarify, both domestically and to the outside, the defense cooperation between Japan and the United States in the new era, following the end of Cold War. This provides the general framework or direction for our two countries' respective roles and also neutral cooperation and coordination in order to conduct a bilateral cooperation in an effective manner under normal circumstances, as well as in contingencies. Indeed this provides a firm foundation for Japan-US defense cooperation in a new era.
We highly appreciate the fact that under the new defense guidelines, we've been able to reaffirm that the bilateral actions at times of armed attacks in Japan will continue to be the core element of Japan-US defense cooperation. We also have been able to substantiate the contents of our cooperation under situations in areas-with regard to starting a cooperation. In cases, there are situations in areas surrounding Japan that will have an important influence on Japan and Japan's peace and security.
The question of relocation of -- (inaudible) -- earth station was mentioned in passing earlier. In the meeting, I also expressed my determination that as the leader of the recently established -- (inaudible) -- relocation headquarters of the Japanese Government. I shall continue to exercise strong leadership on this issue.
We also had -- (inaudible) -- the US side, with regard to the budget request we submitted in relation to the host nation support. We also confirmed that we shall continue to promote steadily bilateral studies on ballistic missile defense.
We'd like to continue with our efforts to further promote the close security relationship between Japan and the United States.
MR. RUBIN: We'll take two questions from each side, starting with Carol.
QUESTION: Yes, I'd like both foreign ministers and defense ministers, if you feel a need, to explain why China should not feel worried-if not threatened-by these efforts to strengthen your defense ties.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that I think these guidelines are very important, in terms of the US-Japanese relationship. Our presence in the region is well-known, and I also believe from my meetings with Asian leaders, much appreciated.
As both Secretary Cohen and I have said, the guidelines have come into existence because it's important to have a new appraisal in a post-Cold War situation in Asia. And there is nothing country-specific or geographically specific about the guidelines. It does not change our one-China policy.
FOREIGN MINISTER OBUCHI: The guidelines have been put together this time in order to clarify Japan-U.S. defense cooperation and was-as was mentioned earlier-in this post-Cold War era when we spelled out in the guidelines how the U.S. and Japan's cooperation should be. So this is strictly a matter of Japan and the United States.
Having said that, we should certainly pay due consideration so that countries other than Japan and the United States would have a mistaken misunderstanding of the guidelines. And therefore, in fact, when Prime Minister Hashimoto visited China recently, ahead of the adoption of this final report, he sought understanding of the Chinese side by explaining the contents of the guidelines.
We certainly will provide explanations about the new guidelines to China, Korea and other countries concerned. And to take advantage of my presence here in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meetings, I shall also try to explain in full the objectives of the review of the guidelines to the foreign ministers of China and Korea.
SECRETARY COHEN: I would add just one other postscript to what Secretary Albright has already said. The difference here, of course, is the transparency that has been a key component of this entire process of the revising and updating these guidelines.
The Chinese Government, their government officials have been kept apprised from the very beginning. We had an interim report that was filed that also was sent to the government of China. We have met on our military-to-military relationships at every step along the way. We have made this as transparent and open a process as possible in order to alleviate or allay any apprehension on the part of the Chinese Government.
QUESTION: I'd like to ask a related question of Foreign Minister Obuchi. When the Prime Minister has revisited China recently, I understand that Premier Li Peng of China reserved his, shall I say, appraisal of the Japan-US defense guidelines, saying that he will make his final judgment after the adoption of the final report.
I wonder, Mr. Minister, if you think that the now-adopted new guidelines will be able to have the understanding of the Chinese? You've stated that you will work for a closer defense cooperation with the United States. At times, I believe, the two objectives-closer defense cooperation and strengthened relations with China-run against each other, and I think this is a very difficult diplomatic issue to deal with. I wonder how you would attempt to reconcile the two.
FOREIGN MINISTER OBUCHI: On the first question, indeed, Prime Minister Hashimoto said, following the meeting with Premiere Li Peng, that while he did try to provide adequate, in-depth explanations about the new guidelines, perhaps some concerns remained on the part of the Chinese. So as I've mentioned just a while ago, we will certainly try to explain the new guidelines to our neighbor, the Chinese.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) back in 1978?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: On your question about the Contact Group, let me say that being here at the United Nations General Assembly provides a good opportunity for the Contact Group members, who meet on a regular basis in various places, to have a meeting here.
In some of the bilateral meetings that I have already had with members of the Contact Group, I am very pleased to see that there is a common assessment that the situation in Bosnia has improved in the recent weeks, with some additional actions taken in terms of the central institutions and with elections and developments in Republika Srpska. And so I think the meeting will give us an opportunity to touch base and move forward.
QUESTION: I'd like to ask a question-both Minister Kyuma as well as Secretary Cohen. The new guidelines-when it comes to cooperation in situations in the area surrounding Japan, there are a lot of items that cannot be undertaken by Japan under current institutions. And I would like to ask Mr. Kyuma as to how he's going to respond to that problem-whether there will be legislative activities? And I'd like to ask Secretary Cohen if there are any specific expectations you would like Japan-or any things that you would like Japan to do?
SECRETARY COHEN: I'm sorry, what was the last part?
QUESTION: Any special things you would like Japan to do.
DEFENSE MINISTER KYUMA: We've completed the new guidelines and, of course, what is important is that we make the guidelines effective. So for that purpose, we'll have to engage in various joint operation planning, various mutual cooperation plannings, programs and so on. And as we do that, we'll have to consider whether legislative actions will be necessary or not. But even before getting to legislation, we'd also like to study what sort of concrete comprehensive mechanism for coordination we should build up. So in that process, we would like to study what should be done.
SECRETARY COHEN: I would like to say that nothing contained in the revised, updated guidelines would be in any way inconsistent or contravene Japan's constitution. This is something that is fundamental to our relationship and so there would be no burdens placed upon or required of the Japanese Government to be in any way contravene to the Japanese constitution.
Secondly, because it is a relationship based upon mutual cooperation, then obviously our two countries would have to agree on any type of activity that we would have to engage in any kind of contingency. So it really is based upon mutual cooperation, trying to now devise the mechanisms whereby we can, in fact, have greater coordination of activities in the-where I mentioned before-be it peacekeeping, humanitarian matters, whether or not evacuation of our respective citizens. All of these areas we're trying to now-we will-develop a mechanism whereby we can coordinate our activities better.
If I had one request, I would say that I would hope that Japan would continue its very generous host nation support. It is vital to our relationship. It is something that must be continued because this really is a transcendent issue for us. It's not a financial matter, bur rather it is the heart of our strategic relationship.