what's new?  |   archive  |   prehistoric ryukyu  |   ancient ryukyu  |   early-modern ryukyu  |   modern okinawa  |   postwar & contemporary okinawa  |  links  | contents  | about this website


US Department of Defence News Briefing

Joseph Nye, Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs

27th October, 1995

(NOTE: Participating in this briefing were Dr. Joseph Nye and Capt. Michael Doubleday, DATSD/PA.)

Doubleday: Good morning, everybody. This is a last minute change. But, instead of a background basis, we're going do this on the record. By way of introduction, just let me say that as all of you know, Secretary Perry is going to leave Washington on Monday morning to visit Seattle, Washington; Tokyo, Japan; and Seoul, Republic of Korea. In Seattle, he's going to be addressing members of the Washington State China Relations Council and we are working to get that speech piped back to the Pentagon. He'll arrive in Japan on the 31st of October and arrive in the Republic of Korea on November 2nd and then he'll return to Washington, D.C. ,on November 3rd.

This morning we have with us Dr. Joseph Nye, who is an assistant secretary of defense in international Security affairs, and he is here to give you a little rundown on what this trip is about. Dr. Nye.

Dr. Nye: Basically, Secretary Perry will be traveling to Tokyo and to Korea. And in Tokyo, he will meet with Foreign Minister Kono, Defense Minister Eto, various political leaders, and also with the press to underscore the commitment to Japan's defense and the U.S. determination to maintain a forward presence in East Asia.

The trip is the penultimate stage on what has been a year-long security dialogue between the U.S. and Japan which is designed to reaffirm U.S./Japan security treaty. This started last November. It has had a number of visits and meetings in between. One of the most notable was the two-plus-two which had Secretaries Christopher and Perry meeting in New York with Ministers Eto and Kono, and will culminate on November 20th in Tokyo when President Clinton meets with Prime Minister Murayama to issue a joint declaration on the U.S./Japan security relationship. And that will be the culmination of this year-long initiative.

Secretary Perry will be working on the substance of that joint security declaration for the Summit, and try and get that nailed down. Obviously, it will be announced at the time of the Secretary's trip, but by the President and the Prime Minister. But, we hope to have it very far advanced by the Secretary's visit. He'll also express appreciation for Japan's generous host nation support where the agreement was signed in New York at the two-plus- two, which provides that Japan will provide approximately $5 million a year over the next five years in support for American presence in Japan and this covers about 70 percent of the costs of American troops in Japan.

He will also express his concerns about the recent rape in Okinawa. And we believe that the language which was agreed upon this week has successfully addressed the issue of custody in heinous -- cases of heinous crimes -- murder and rape. And the Secretary will also work with the government of Japan in finding ways to reduce the footprint of U.S. forces on the Okinawa islands.

This does not mean a reduction in U.S. troop presence in East Asia, but it does mean that we will look at ways to adjust the U.S. presence so that less of the burden falls upon the citizens of East Asia -- that can be adjustment in procedures as well as in the presence.

The Secretary then goes on to Korea where he will meet with Minister Lee and President Kim Yong-sam and will attend the annual U.S. Republic of Korea Defense Ministers Conference called the Security Contemplative Meeting that meets on November 2 and 3. And this annual meeting at the ministerial level is a way in which the United States and Korea highlight their mutual security benefits of their alliance and talk about their plans for force modernization, and about the ways in which they will meet any challenges on the peninsula.

During that time, he will also discuss the importance of Korea as an ally for the long-term and we have in the SCM meetings a component which talks about the long-term future of the U.S./Korean relationship.

He will also address a series of bilateral security issues such as cost sharing, a TEAM SPIRIT, and the Status of Forces Agreement. He'll probably also review progress in implementing the agreed framework and consult on how to proceed in engaging with North Korea, and will reiterate the importance of direct substantive of North/South dialogue. He will then return Friday night back to the United States.

Let me take your questions. Yes?

Q: The other day when you testified on the Hill on the subject of U.S. troop presence in Japan, you said that the U.S. was open to the idea of a "redistribution of troops in Japan" -- I think was the phrase you used. I'm wondering if that means, for example, taking troops -- some portions of troops in Okinawa and moving them to other parts of Japan?

A: There are a variety of things that we will be discussing with our Japanese counterparts. And as I said in my testimony, it can be mean adjustments in procedures. It can mean adjustments in locations. There may be ways to work together on consolidations in some cases. We have had discussions with Japan for some time: a set of issues going back to 1990 of places where we could give back land or change bases.

A significant amount of progress has been made on a number of those even before the recent incident of the rape. And so I think that there have been discussions on this, and there are ongoing discussions, and the Secretary will be continuing on that whole range of things.

Q: I'm just not clear on the answer. Are you saying yes to my question or no that --

A: Yes, to your question. But there's more to it than that. In other words, that's not the only thing, but that's one of the things. Yes?

Q: The Secretary told us on an interview the day before yesterday that he personally would not favor reduction of troops on Okinawa. He said perhaps presence, perhaps profile, perhaps --

A: We are not --

Q: He personally would not favor cutting the number of troops on Okinawa.

A: Let me say that we have a commitment to approximately 100,000 troops forward based in East Asia, which includes a number of allies, including Japan. Of the troops that are in Japan... In the short one, it's very difficult to make reductions in the number of troops on Okinawa because of the way bases are structured; but we are prepared to work with the Japanese government to look at ways in which the distribution of troops can be adjusted so that burdens can be reduced.

We'll also look at the other things I mentioned: procedures, consolidations, give-back of land and other things. So, it's not just a... We're not talking about the short run -- the troop reduction on Okinawa -- but we are willing to look at the question of the footprint which American forces on Okinawa create and find ways to alleviate that.

Q: When you talk about short term, are you talking about -- when might you be able to -- or when can you see possibly reducing the number of troops on Okinawa?

A: It will depend... We'll have to work with the Japanese government to find out how you can handle redistribution. Obviously, if you move troops from a place where there's a base to a place where there's no base, something has to be built.

Q: Are you talking about a redistribution of troops or facilities?

A: At this stage, we are in the early phases of how we are going to handle this. It may be a redistribution of troops. It may be a redistribution of facilities. The point is that we are open to discussion on it, but the details have not yet been worked out because the discussions and the negotiations haven't occurred.

Q: Do you have an idea for the long-term what their bottom-line number of troops that have to be on Okinawa is?

A: No. The key number is the number which we've announced, which is approximately 100,000 troops forward-based in East Asia. Within that, we will explore different ways to do it, to have the basing and ways to reduce the footprint that we create in Okinawa.

But at this stage, since this is just at the beginning of this, other than the items that have been discussed since 1990, we don't have a particular number; or, indeed, particular troop reductions at this time in mind.

Q: Could you over the short-term, reduce the footprint, maybe the size or number of bases in Okinawa and still keep the same number of troops in Okinawa fairly easily?

A: Yes. Let me give you an example. There are three items which we and the Japanese government have been discussing for some time in which there's essentially an agreement. One is the return of the Yomitan auxiliary airfield to Japan. Second is the relocation of the Naha military port. The third is the relocation of artillery firing across Route 104.

These would be consolidations and adjustments of procedure that would reduce the footprint without changing the number of troops. And those, I should say, we and the Japanese government had been working on and made great progress. We're in virtual agreement. There's a few details left. But, there are a number of things that can be done -- that don't include troop reductions -- which can reduce the footprint. Those are just some examples of things that have already been well worked. Yes?

Q: You mentioned force modernization would be discussed at the Korean conference. Is there going to be TMD issues maybe on the table?

A: I doubt that we're going to be discussing TMD as much as things like: how well each side has modernized and improved its force posture and things like counter-battery radar, for example, might come up. But, it's going to be more looking at the overall force structure, but not focused just on TMD.

Q: So, there won't be a discussion of future transfers and things like that?

A: No.

Q: Can the redistribution of U.S. troops in Okinawa be included in the joint declaration in November?

A: There will not be a... In the security declaration... I probably should not say what will be in the security declaration because this is still being negotiated between the U.S. and the Japanese. The language is still being negotiated. So, we've each agreed not to discuss the contents.

All we can say about the security declaration is that it will be a reaffirmation of the alliance for the post-Cold War period, the basis for stability in East Asia and the decades to come. It does not require any change in the U.S. I mean, in the Japanese constitution or the U.S./Japan security treaty. And it will discuss a variety of issues and procedures, but I can't go beyond that on the contents. Yes?

Q: Do you think we could have some kind of a comment in that joint declaration about Okinawa?

A: That would violate the rule I just gave you that I wouldn't discuss the contents.

Q: While Secretary Perry is having his discussions, will one of the results be a statement or some sort of agreement or comment on the Okinawa situation?

A: I think there will be some statements about Okinawa. I don't expect... I mean, the Secretary will be discussing Okinawa with our Japanese hosts and I expect there will be something said about it. I don't expect some dramatic statement and, particularly, there will not be a statement saying the troops will be reduced.

But, what there can be is an announcement of progress in areas where progress has been made, such as Yomitan and Naha and Route 104. And there can be discussions of the general parameters of how we will approach the problem in the future along the lines that I mentioned.

Q: Many of the adjustments are going to be a relocation of the [inaudible] or relocating troops from Okinawa is going to require some new construction, conceivably. What's your thinking as who is going to pay for that -- the Japanese government or the United States?

A: The Japanese government will pay, and that's obviously one of the things that makes it impossible to do things instantaneously. In other words, as I mentioned earlier, if you're going to move one thing where there is a facility to another place where there isn't a facility, you have to have time for construction.

So, I mean that's why you can't just dramatically make changes. You have to have an infrastructure in place and that takes time to create. Yes?

Q: Ambassador Mondale has greed with Minister Kono about the establishment of a new organization to talk about your base redistribution. So, what kind of organization and what level organization addition are you establishing? And is Mr. Perry talking about that in his trip?

A: That's one of the things that Dr. Perry will be discussing with his Japanese counterparts during the trip.

Q: But, Ambassador Mondale has already agreed with Minister Kono to establish this?

A: I've been in touch with the embassy as recently as fifteen minutes ago. No, sorry. Fifteen minutes before I came down here. It has not been worked out. I mean, there's still a lot that needs to be done and will be done during the Perry trip. It's one thing to say let's do something. It's another thing to work out what it is you're going to do.

Q: What level of organization are you --

A: That is one of the things will be discussed in Tokyo. Yes?

Q: Looking at the situation more long-term, you say that you'd like to see the continuation of the U.S. presence -- 100,000 troops. In the short term, it would be --

A: Approximately, 100,000. We always have to use that to make sure that somebody doesn't say that oh, you're at 99.1 or something.

Q: I'm sorry. But, has there been any indication by other countries in the region that they would be willing to accept a higher level of troops in case there is a necessity to -- a political necessity to -- eventually lower the number of troops in Japan?

A: We have not discussed with that other countries. The thing that I would point out is that if you travel to East Asian capitals and ask is the American forward base troop presence positive and popular, the answer is yes. And if you ask the East Asian political leaders would you like the Americans to reduce their forward base troop presence, the answer is no.

And so, if we got to the point of asking, I think you would probably find that there's support for location of American troops in a number of places. But, this is all a hypothetical because we haven't asked that question.

Q: How long will it take to reach a conclusion about the reduction of U.S. troops in Okinawa? A reduction or redistribution?

A: We are going to be discussing with our Japanese counterparts as I indicated in the answer to the previous question, procedures by which we can talk about these issues and figure out what needs to be done.

And so it's impossible to give you an answer now. I mean, this is one of the things that we'll be trying to discuss when the Secretary is in Tokyo. At that point, he may be able to say something more after his time in Tokyo about an answer to your question.

But, I should point out, in addition, that even if there is an agreement on a procedure -- you know, when a report should be produced and so forth, and going back to an earlier question -- you still have to have work that goes on to implement it, which means providing alternative facilities and so forth.

So, there's a difference between saying when a procedure will be established; how long it would take for a committee or something to report; and how long it would take to actually make the physical movement.

So, they are different time horizons with each one of those. And we don't have the answers to any of those three different time horizons yet, but may have a little bit more answer for you after the meetings in Tokyo. Yes?

the ryukyu-okinawa history and culture website © 1995-2019 john michael purves