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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Remarks to the Press

Press Availability
Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
New York City
September 23, 2010


MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary had an excellent meeting with Foreign Minister Maehara. He joked at the start of the meeting this is his sixth day on the job – (laughter) – so he’s obviously traveled a great deal, put in a great many miles in a relatively short period of time. He spoke first about the importance of the U.S.-Japanese alliance, and the Secretary reciprocated that we certainly want to both continue and expand our consultations on strategic issues that affect the region and, of course, of interest to the United States and Japan. I’ll quickly tick off a number of topics, then you can just follow up where your interests lie.

In terms of regional issues, they talked about North Korea, they talked about Iran, talked about Afghanistan. The minister did bring up the current tensions with China and just provided Japan’s perspective on the incident involving the fishing boat and the coast guard vessel, and indicated that Japan was working this in accordance with both its legal process and international law. The Secretary’s response was simply to encourage dialogue and hope that the issue can be resolved soon since relations between Japan and China are vitally important to regional stability.

And in terms of bilateral issues, they talked about the relocation effort in Futemna, talked about trade – a variety of trade issues. On Futemna, the minister noted the agreement, the government-to-government agreement of May 28, and pledged that he was committed to fully implementing the agreement.

And just one other issue on our side: The Secretary made a special appeal for the minister to encourage Japan to ratify The Hague Convention. She noted that there are a very large number of custody cases that are on our bilateral agenda. And the minister simply said this remains an issue that Japan is studying.

But I’ll stop there and take your questions.

QUESTION: On the tensions with China and how she encouraged dialogue, to what extent is the U.S. – not mediating, but the President’s going to be meeting with President Hu later today. I think he’s meeting with the Japanese prime minister while they’re here. But, like, to what extent is the U.S. trying to talk to both parties rather than just encouraging dialogue between the two of them? Is the U.S. being thrown into the role of peacemaker here?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think, Elise, you put it properly. We are not mediating, per se. We have not been asked to play a particular role. This is an issue that two mature countries like Japan – and Japan are fully capable of resolving. And our sense is that neither side wants to see the situation escalate to the point that it has long-term regional impact, and that is really our view. It has come up in various discussions that we’ve had with both Japan and China this week. I can’t predict whether it will come up in the high-level meetings later on in the day. But we are hopeful that this issue can be resolved soon, and that was simply our message to the Japanese today.

QUESTION: Could you characterize your level of concern about those right now?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, in any bilateral relationship, there are always areas of cooperation and mutual interest, and periodically, in any relationship, there are issues that arrive – arise that create tensions. So I wouldn’t say at this point – it is something that we just are hopeful that the two sides will work on aggressively and resolve as quickly as they can.

QUESTION: P.J., does the U.S. take a position on actually what happened here? I mean, do you feel one side or the other is in the wrong or in the right?

MR. CROWLEY: This is a – the issue of the Senkakus is complicated, as you know. We don’t take a position on the sovereignty of the Senkakus. So we understand that there can be room here for different interpretations of what happened. From our discussion this morning, the minister simply laid out from the Japanese side that they are pursuing this case through their legal system and that they expected to be able to resolve it, and we simply encouraged that to happen as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Is that your sense from the Chinese, too, that they’re going to stick to, kind of legal international law type of instruments then? Obviously, when you talk about China being a much – not a bigger power than Japan, but certainly militarily, you’ve been concerned about their expansion – are you worried about any kind of military escalation?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we – I don’t think that we see that on the horizon, and we certainly would hope that it would not rise to that level. This is – there are – this is, at one level, a case to be resolved legally. Obviously, it has diplomatic implications, and we are hopeful that through consultation and dialogue and communication, that this can be resolved. I mean, there are broader principles here for the region. As the Secretary noted when in Vietnam, we have an interest in the broad principles of freedom of navigation. And so – but certainly, in this narrow case, we just simply hope – we’re certainly aware of the tensions in various meetings. Both sides have mentioned it to us. And we continue to encourage both sides to do everything to resolve it and certainly not to escalate it.

QUESTION: Do you think – this is a follow-up – do you think that legal process the Japanese are undertaking is appropriate? Is that one of those beefs that China has?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m – I don’t know that I want to sit here and do an analysis of the legal process that is unfolding. All I’ll say is that the minister provided their perspective on how they see the issue, what they – the investigation that’s ongoing. And we just took note of their position.

QUESTION: How much of this is related to your concerns about China’s general behavior on the seas? And you’re going to be meeting on Friday with the ASEAN leaders, talking about the South China Sea, and there just seems – and certainly, in the ASEAN meetings in Vietnam, there was quite a hefty discussion about China’s activities on the high seas themselves. How much of this is kind of related to trying to keep China in check?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think let’s – there is a particular incident that has occurred. But obviously, broadly speaking, part of the dialogue that we did have at ASEAN involved broader principles, but also how nations in regions of importance to us will relate to each other, work together, and pursue common interests that benefit everyone, including the United States.

The Secretary and the minister during the meeting today did briefly touch on the importance of the emerging architectures that we have discussed with Japan and other partners in the region. The minister, as we’ve heard from a variety of countries, is very pleased with the United States’s commitment to the East Asia Summit. And so we hope to play a constructive role in bringing and advancing architectures that will promote regional peace and stability.

QUESTION: In terms of China’s ban on exports to Japan (inaudible) escalation to the spat between the Chinese and Japanese, and considering that (inaudible) and that the U.S. has expressed concern about how much of this China had.

MR. CROWLEY: I’ve lost you.

QUESTION: China has basically withheld exports of (inaudible) Japan (inaudible). What is the U.S. reaction to that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it reinforces our hope that the two countries can resolve this soon.

QUESTION: Just one more, sorry. Is this part of your common concern about regional stability? Is this – is there a concern that this is going to affect kind of getting on the same page about restarting the Six-Party Talks, or are you not even kind of there yet with North Korea, that that’s even a concern?

MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t see a connection between the current tension over this one episode between Japan and China, and I don’t see it affecting North Korea. The ministers – the minister and the Secretary did touch on North Korea, and we have the same view about the importance of working together within the Six-Party process, and our hope that North Korea will take a more constructive path and will pursue denuclearization under the 2005 joint statement.

QUESTION: Can you give us any more on the discussions about Futenma? I mean, that definitely helped to bring down the last Japanese government. Are you – was there any discussion of new approaches for Futenma or was there any discussion of timelines about when they hope to get this resolved?

MR. CROWLEY: It was a relatively brief aspect of the meeting. The minister simply pledged that with the government agreement of May 28 that he is committed to carrying it out. I believe there – that there are some elections coming up in Japan, so how elections affect the timetable of how to carry it out, I can’t say from here. But obviously, we welcome that reaffirmation of the importance of the agreement and Japan’s commitment to work with us to carry out the relocation plan.

QUESTION: Does the Secretary still feel the same sense of urgency that, for instance, she was expressing in the spring about this issue? I know that apparently, there’s some problems now with the Guam facility that might not even be possible (inaudible). Is there a sense that they can – if we can – we have a little bit more time now?

MR. CROWLEY: I think with the – we’ve moved past that point both with the agreement and then with the technical work that’s been done by the working groups. I think with this reaffirmation, I don’t see – I don’t know that we see any particular obstacles at this point.

QUESTION: You mentioned they just have trade issues. Can you give more detail on that? Does that, in any way, include the (inaudible) discussion on the recent currency intervention?

MR. CROWLEY: Currency was not an issue discussed.

QUESTION: Anything else about trade issues (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: No. The – high-speed rail was one that came up. The minister expressed an interest in having Japan invest in high-speed rail in this country. The issue of beef came up.

QUESTION: How about Afghanistan? The Japanese are playing a big role in financing. Was there any discussion that they are going to be (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah. The Secretary thanked the minister and Japan for its ongoing commitments to Afghanistan, its role both in police training and financing of police salaries. Japan’s commitment is something like $5 billion over five years – a very substantial commitment. And they pledge this will be an area that – in terms of developing a strategic understanding of key issues, both regionally and globally, pledged to continue to cooperate on Afghanistan, understanding that we have – we’re facing a critical period over the next one or two years.

QUESTION: Two quick unrelated things: Do you have any update on the efforts to resolve the issue of the settlement moratorium, the talks that are going on now.

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know that I have. There are still – our teams are in continual contact. Beyond that, let me – we’re working intensively with both parties to see if we can keep them moving forward.

QUESTION: And you think that – are you trying to resolve it here in New York right now, or is it – is that where most of the discussions are or --

MR. CROWLEY: I would – I mean, there’s lots of things in play. There are – the teams are here. Our team’s here, the Israeli team’s here, the Palestinians’ team’s here. Obviously, the Israeli team is in close contact back to the prime minister as needed. So I just can’t catalog because there’s just a lot going on. Our folks are in constant contact and trying to see if we can’t find a way to keep the parties in the process and moving forward.

QUESTION: Are any –

QUESTION: Is there – does the Secretary have any reaction to the Woodward book?


QUESTION: One more thing on the Japan-China issue: Did the Japanese ask you to try and – I mean, I guess you said that you’re not playing a mediation role, but has either side – but particularly this morning, concludes a meeting with the Japanese? Did they ask you to kind of use your good offices to try and talk to the Chinese on the (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: There was no specific request that the Japanese made of us.


QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Okay. Thanks.

PRN: 2010/1331

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