Joint Press Availability By Secretary of State Clinton With Japanese Foreign Minister Okada

Tokyo, Japan–(ENEWSPF)–May 21, 2010.

MODERATOR: (Via translator) I would like to begin (inaudible) press conference with Foreign Minister Okada and Secretary Clinton. Minister Okada and then Secretary Clinton will speak, and then questions and answers. Mr. Okada, please.

FOREIGN MINISTER OKADA: (Via translator) Thank you. This is my fifth meeting with Secretary Clinton since last September. We had a very candid exchange of views. In today’s meeting we had discussions centering on the regional situations in Asia, and the response to the Iranian nuclear issue — but of course, other themes as well.

Instabilities and uncertainties as represented by the sinking of the ROK Navy corvette are becoming visible. And the Japan-U.S. alliance is, therefore, all the more important. Against this backdrop, this meeting, I believe, was important and timely for the purpose of addressing these situations through mutual cooperation, with common awareness of them between Japan and the United States. And, as such, it is gratifying that Secretary Clinton has visited Japan.

With regard to the sinking of the Korean corvette, we discussed the response we should take following the announcement yesterday of the results of the investigations. Setting aside details, we confirmed that coordination among Japan, U.S., and ROK, including our future response, is important, and that we shall maintain close communication with each other in addressing the matter.

As the Secretary is on her way to attend the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, I explained to her the results of the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers meeting, as well as the Japan-China Bilateral meeting held in its margins, and exchanged the views on Japan-China and U.S.-China relations, as well.

On the Iranian nuclear issue, while we will need to watch how the recent agreement between Iran, Turkey, and Brazil will play out, we see eye to eye that the cause for concern remains unchanged as Iran has publicly stated that it will continue the enrichment of uranium to approximately the 20 percent level.

I told Secretary Clinton that Japan will actively play a role in the discussions for a new UN Security Council resolution in order to enable the international community to put out a unified message. We confirmed that our two countries will continue to work closely together. We confirmed afresh the significance of the Japan-U.S. alliance, including the above-mentioned exchange of views, and we shall carry on our consultations to further deepen the alliance.

On the question of relocating the Futenma air station, working-level officials of our two countries were having a meeting today, as well. And I also explained Japan’s position on this. Talks are proceeding intensively between Japan and the United States. Both Japan and the United States will make further efforts towards a settlement by the end of May. That’s all for me. Thank you very much.

Secretary Clinton, please.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, it’s a pleasure to be back in Tokyo, and to reaffirm the enduring alliance between our two nations. I thank Minister Okada for his warm welcome and the substantive discussions that we’ve had, and I look forward to seeing the prime minister.

Japan was the first nation I visited as Secretary of State, because we recognize that this relationship continues to be a cornerstone of security, stability, and progress in a region that is so crucial to the future of our entire world.

This year, as the United States and Japan mark the 50th anniversary of our alliance, we can be very proud of all we have accomplished together; the peace we have kept, the prosperity we have built, and the bonds we have forged. This partnership is essential for meeting the challenges not only of today, but also of tomorrow. And it is a rock solid foundation for our shared future.

As the foreign minister said, we had a productive meeting on a number of critical issues and common concerns. We had a detailed discussion on the results of the international investigation into the sinking of the Korean military vessel. This was a thorough and comprehensive scientific examination, and the United States and other international observers were deeply engaged. The evidence is overwhelming and condemning. The torpedo that sunk the Cheonan and took the lives of 46 South Korean sailors was fired by a North Korean submarine. And the United States strongly condemns this act of aggression. As Minister Okada and I discussed, we will be in deep and constant consultations, not only between the United States and Japan, but also with South Korea, China, and others to determine our response.

We appreciate Japan’s support of South Korea and this investigation, because we recognize the threat that North Korea’s aggression poses is also to the people of Japan. Last year I met with families of the abducted, and expressed my personal sympathy and concern. The United States and Japan continue to work side by side to meet the challenges posed by North Korea. We agree that North Korea must stop its provocative behavior, halt its policy of threats and belligerence toward its neighbors, and take irreversible steps to fulfill its denuclearization commitments, and comply with international law.

I will be discussing these issues with my counterparts in Beijing next week, and then I will travel to Seoul, to consult with our South Korean partners about the way forward. But let me be clear. This will not be and cannot be business as usual. There must be an international — not just a regional, but an international — response.

The Minister and I also conferred about our efforts at the United Nations to secure a strong resolution on Iran. The draft resolution agreed to by the P-5+1 and circulated at the Security Council this week sends an unmistakable message to the Iranian leadership: Comply with your obligations or face growing isolation and consequences. The burden is on Iran to demonstrate through its actions, not its words, that it will live up to its responsibilities. The international non-proliferation regime cannot survive if violators are allowed to act with impunity. And the United States appreciates Japan’s support on this issue, and its leadership on the broader non-proliferation agenda.

Today we also discussed issues relating to the continued successful operation of U.S. bases in Japan. These are the front line of our alliance, and an anchor of stability in the region. The United States continues to work closely with Japan on basing issues to find a way forward that serves the interest of both our countries, and an arrangement that is operationally viable and politically sustainable. Our shared goal remains unchanged: to maintain Japanese security and regional stability, while minimizing the impact on base-hosting communities.

We salute Japan’s commitment to regional and global engagement, and I particularly applaud Japan’s generous contribution of $5 billion over 5 years to support the people of Afghanistan, as they combat violent extremism, and work to build a secure and stable nation. From reconstruction efforts in Iraq, to combating piracy off the horn of Africa, to fighting climate change, Japan is providing crucial contributions and leadership on a wide range of global challenges. Japan is making a real difference, and is an essential partner for the United States in pursuit of our common goals and values.

Last year, during my town hall discussion at the University of Tokyo, a student asked me how we can continue developing the U.S.-Japan relationship from a regional alliance to a global partnership. This is exactly the right question. And it is the question that animates our discussion and drives our collective action. And today we look to the future full of confidence in our friendship and our ability to work together.

And so, let me thank Minister Okada once again for his hospitality and leadership, and let me state how much the United States looks forward to continuing our work together to ensure that the next 50 years are as fruitful as the last.

MODERATOR: (Via translator) Thank you very much. Since time is pressing, I would like to accept two questions. One from Japanese media, please. Mr. Mishoma.

QUESTION: (Via translator) Mishoma with JJ Press. Question for both Minister Okada and Secretary Clinton, and the same question on Futenma. While the end of May is approaching, any settlement that can win the understanding of Okinawans remains elusive. How do the two countries intend to overcome the situation? And do the two countries plan to issue some kind of a joint statement towards the end of May? Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER OKADA: As I said earlier, between Japan and the United States we would like to come up with a clear direction. And with regard to that general direction, we would like to ask (inaudible) make firm efforts to gain the understanding of Okinawans. Coming Sunday, Prime Minister plans to visit Okinawa. So we will — the entire cabinet will continue to engage in efforts to explain the government’s position and gain the understanding of the people.

At the same time, to the Japanese people, we would like to have their understanding that in the current security environment the presence of U.S. forces is indispensible for the security and stability of Japan. But not only just that, but the region’s stability.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I agree completely with Minister Okada’s statement about the importance of our alliance, and the United States’s commitment to the defense of Japan. It has always been important. It is good to be reminded, as we recently were with the unprovoked attack on the Korean vessel, that there are still dangers and challenges that confront us together.

We are working closely to resolve the outstanding issues concerning our basing. We both seek an arrangement that is operationally viable and politically sustainable. The goal of our governments remains unchanged. We want to maintain the security of Japan and the stability of the region. And I am confident we will resolve this matter in a way that reflects the very best of our alliance, the strength of that alliance, for the next 50 years, and provides the security guarantees that the Japanese people are looking for. So we have committed to redoubling our efforts to meet the deadline that has been announced by the Japanese Government, and we look forward to a resolution of this matter.

MODERATOR: Thank you. One last question from the U.S. media corps. Mr. Schmidt?

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you just said that there should be — the sinking the Cheonan — you just said that there should be a strong international response. Can you tell us what your options are? And are you worried that North Korea might retaliate to its condemnation?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m sorry, what was the last part of that question?

QUESTION: Are you worried that North Korea might retaliate after its condemnation?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, one of the reasons that I wanted to stop here first was to consult with the Japanese Government, and to reaffirm our commitment to working together to resolve this matter. We look forward to intensive consultations in China. And then, as you know, I will be going to Seoul. It is premature for me, at this moment, to announce options or actions without that level of consultation among the regional nations that are most directly affected by North Korea’s behavior.

I think it is important to send a clear message to North Korea that provocative actions have consequences. We cannot allow this attack on South Korea to go unanswered by the international community. So we will determine our best options, moving forward, and send a clear, unmistakable message to North Korea regarding the international communities, and most particularly, its neighbors’ concerns about its behavior. And I look forward to being able to work out the details over the next week.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. With this, we conclude the joint press conference. Thank you very much. The two ministers will have to immediately leave. Would the members of the press kindly wait in your seats? Thank you.