printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Remarks at U.S. Embassy Media Roundtable

Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Tokyo, Japan
June 18, 2010


ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you very much. First of all, thank you all for being here and I apologize for being a little late. I'm here on a quick trip to Asia with my colleague and friend from the White House, Danny Russel. We spent a day and a half with high-level meetings with our South Korean colleagues to ensure that we are completely coordinated and working closely together in the aftermath of the tragic sinking of the Cheonan, taking specific efforts at the United Nations and other bilateral steps to ensure that we send a strong message of solidarity and a clear signal that such provocations are both deeply problematic to the maintenance of peace and stability, and they cannot go unanswered.

Danny Russel and I are here in Tokyo to meet many of the new members of the Kan administration and to bring very best wishes from the United States to Prime Minister Kan and his key interlocutors. We've also had a chance to have a deep discussion this morning with our friends and colleagues from the Foreign Ministry on a range of issues, including our mutual desire to engage China, developments on the Korean Peninsula, how to effectively manage elements of our bilateral relationship, our joint endeavors in Afghanistan, recently concluded diplomacy at the United Nations associated with Iran, the challenge that we face together in crafting a plan of action in a challenging environment such as Myanmar, Burma, and also other important issues that we believe are critical in terms of the future architecture of the Asian-Pacific region.

We are working to broaden the agenda. We've been involved in some very intense interactions over the course of the last several months on some key features of our bilateral relationship, but there are many big issues that require the urgent attention and the keen focus of the United States and Japan. Mr. Russel in particular is making good preparations for the upcoming meeting between the President and Prime Minister Kan and we are putting in place a series of interactions that we believe will lead to a successful visit of President Obama to Japan later this year to both celebrate the 50th anniversary of our historic alliance but also to think creatively and constructively about what we can do to ensure that the next 50 years will be as well-managed as the last and that the key feature for both of us in terms of our overarching strategy in the Asian-Pacific region is a strong, stable, and deeply constructive alliance between our two sides. So it's great to be back in Tokyo. We bring very best wishes from the United States to Prime Minister Kan and his colleagues, and we are excited about the work that we face going ahead, and it's good to see all of you. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Dr. Campbell. The Japanese new Prime Minister Kan has declared that he is working with the United States government in a pragmatic and realistic way, which is kind of different from Hatoyama's stance. That is the more traditionally – and I think it's a good way. But he also said that he is seeking the same stance with Mr. Hatoyama in terms of pursuing the close and equal partnership between the U.S. and Japan and revising the Status of Forces Agreement between us. So I'm just wondering if you could give some of your thoughts on the revising the SOFA issue, and is there any possibility to bring up that kind of issue through the discussion regarding to deepening the alliance process?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: First of all, let me say that one of the reasons that Danny Russel and I are here is to listen carefully to our Japanese interlocutors about the agenda that we will need to focus on going forward and I do believe there are many steps that the United States and Japan should take to strengthen our bilateral alliance going forward and there are number of bilateral issues that have to be handled carefully. We are committed to doing that as we go forward. I think the primary rationale for this trip is, in addition to setting an important agenda for the upcoming meetings in Canada and elsewhere, is in many respects to broaden the agenda as I stated earlier. Clearly there are issues that we must focus on in the bilateral context, but we think given urgent challenges on the Korean Peninsula, important mutual interests in positively engaging China, central features of maintenance of peace and stability throughout Asia, that the United States and Japan must step up its dialogue and coordination on these various matters and that's what we're seeking to do. We have a number of issues that are critically important. We note that Japanese friends have been extraordinarily helpful on a range of issues in Afghanistan, on climate change, and so it is on these issues that we’re spending most of our time during this particular trip. Thank you.

QUESTION: Satoru Suzuki with TV Asahi. Nice to see you again, Mr. Campbell. If I may ask you about the Futenma relocation issue, Ambassador Roos is going to visit Okinawa for four days from today. Is this in line with the SCC joint statement in which you confirmed your intention to intensify communication with the local communities there? What do you think would be the key to gaining the understanding and support of the governor of Okinawa, the mayor of Nago, and the citizens of Okinawa for your relocation plan as stated in the joint statement?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: First of all, thank you very much. For the specific details of Ambassador Roos's trip, I urge you to work closely and talk with the Embassy. I do know that one of the most important reasons for him visiting at this juncture is to go to the function that awards the Obuchi fellowships. We are deeply involved in a number of steps in Okinawa to underscore our strong support to civic engagement, to education, to health, to other elements of our engagement with the island that go beyond simply our critical and important military relationships. So I think what Ambassador Roos seeks to do is have a broad set of discussions in Okinawa with key players in both the local, provincial governments but also the key organizations – educational, health, and civic – that we believe will be important going forward.

MODERATOR: The Ambassador is leaving this afternoon for Okinawa.

QUESTION: So you mentioned there are lots of things, a lot of issues, which arise between the United States and Japan. I just want to make sure that the SOFA, revisions of the SOFA, is included in the issues you mentioned?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: As I said, I do think there are a number of critical bilateral issues that will require careful handling going forward, but the primary purpose of this trip and what we are involved in are regional, global, and other issues that require the immediate and deep dialogue between the two sides. We understand that there will be a need to focus on critical bilateral issues, but we have just emerged from a period in which we have spent an enormous amount of time on some specific bilateral issues that are very important to the U.S.-Japan alliance. But at the same time, we also believe given the pressing relevance of critical global and regional issues that it was important for the United States and Japan to have this opportunity for a deep dialogue, and frankly, that's what the President is looking forward to when he meets Prime Minister Kan next week in Canada.

QUESTION: Regional issue, North Korea. I know you're now working on the UN to seek for new sanctions or new action against Pyongyang, but if you cannot see any positive outcome out there, what do you think you can do bilaterally or unilaterally or together with Japan and South Korea, even including China? One more follow-up – there are some reports that North Korea is now somehow helping Myanmar, or Burma, to develop their own nuclear device. How seriously are you looking at that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you very much. Let me say that one of the purposes of our visit to Seoul is to align our approaches at the United Nations, and the United States and South Korea are taking very best efforts working with a variety of countries with the strong support of Japan to seek a broad and strong approach in the United Nations to send a very clear message of solidarity and a clear message that such provocative, adventurist actions such as the sinking of Cheonan are completely inconsistent with the need to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia. So we are working closely on that and that's our plan moving forward. On specific issues associated – and I will say that is only part of a much broader set of actions that both South Korea and the United States will be taking that will be sending a very clear message not only of solidarity, but of also clear messages directly to North Korea. We have stated clearly our desire to see that North Korea follows through on, and Burma takes steps to follow the clear mandates of UN Security Council Resolution 1874. We have stated publicly that in the past, and we continue to have concerns about some actions that Burma has taken in terms of engagement that is prohibited by the Security Council resolution. On the specifics of some of those interactions, I would simply say that the 1874 covers a range of activities, and we have communicated those concerns directly to the authorities in Burma, to China, to Japan, and other countries, and to North Korea, and we seek very clear steps on the part of the Burma government to respect the will of the international community as expressed through this Security Council resolution.

QUESTION: When you mentioned your broadened agendas in the discussion with your counterparts, does it mean that there will be any new issues other than China, the Korean Peninsula, and other issues, that kind of thing?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Frankly, I think the agenda is extremely full. We have global issues like climate change. Indeed, if you look over the course of the last several months, the United States and Japan have been able to work on a number of things in a very constructive way, like Afghanistan. We want to continue that effort. We are involved in a whole host of issues associated with clean energy. Frankly, the agenda that Japan under Prime Minister Kan will follow in terms of considering approaches to fiscal discipline, very much in line with some of the actions that President Obama is interested in. I think that's going to be an area of deeper consultation between our two sides. Issues on architecture, Southeast Asia, regional security issues on the Korean Peninsula, and China – that's an extraordinarily full agenda. In fact, we had to add substantial more time this morning just to get through a very deep -- I don't know any bilateral relationship that has this many issues of which the critical coordination between our two sides is essential for us to be successful.

QUESTION: Nami Inoue from TBS. Nice to see you. Going back to the Cheonan issue, talking to the South Koreans, did you feel that same there will be some change in the tone or tactic after the defeat of Lee Myung-Bak's party in the local elections?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I'm not going to talk about domestic developments in South Korea other than to say that frankly large voter turnout, a healthy democracy is something that we encourage and support both in Japan and South Korea. We saw no sign of any change in the South Korean approach, but I must say that even before the election, we found that the tone and approach of the President Lee Myung-Bak administration to be extraordinarily measured, careful, statesmanlike, and entirely appropriate. Where we have seen provocations and escalating rhetoric on the side of our North Korea interlocutors, the Lee Myung-Bak administration has been careful, has followed this investigation – scientific, technical investigation – with great care, close coordination not just with the United States, but with Japan and other states. So frankly, his handling of this entire affair is deeply and profoundly reassuring and is one of the reasons why U.S. and South Korean relations are so strong in the current environment. I must say also that the South Koreans have made very clear that they are prepared to resume dialogue with North Korea under the appropriate circumstances in the future, but that we don't want to see talking for talking's sake. We want to see a clear path forward on denuclearization, a clear path forward to abide by the practices of global politics and to move away from the very provocative actions that we've seen in recent years with missile tests and nuclear explosions and now the tragic sinking of the Cheonan. So it would be very hard for me to understate how clear the line set by the President in South Korea has been and we support it 100%.

QUESTION: Brief question on Futenma. The current plan seems politically vulnerable because the local people and local government in Okinawa and Tokunoshima do not support this plan. U.S. government has been saying the plan should be politically sustainable. How do you make sure the sustainability?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: First, we put in place a process for dialogue between our two countries, and I think that process continues. We understand that we have hard work ahead of us, and all I can tell you is the United States and the Government of Japan are committed to move together and work closely on this critical set of issues. At this juncture, I really don't have anything more to offer other than to underscore how important a strong and very clear military and security alliance is for the United States and Japan, that there are many areas that we will continue to work closely together on and have shared deep cooperation. But as we survey the region and we listen carefully to the insights of our key interlocutors, there is a strong desire to see a stable relationship and a strong relationship continue on the security side between the United States and Japan, and that is in our strong interests moving toward. I'm certain that we will have robust process continue between our two sides to address the critical issues associated with Okinawa and other aspects of our military alliance. Thank you all very much. It's great to be back in Tokyo.

Back to Top

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.