SECRETARY KERRY: I’m really delighted to welcome my friend, Foreign Minister Kishida, back to the State Department this afternoon and to return the favor after Fumio hosted Secretary Hagel and me last October in Tokyo when we had our meetings of Defense and State Department jointly in what we call the 2+2.
The United States and Japan relationship has really long been the cornerstone of the regional peace and security of that region, and it’s also a cornerstone of President Obama’s Asia rebalance. And I share the President’s goal for a stronger renewed presence throughout the Asia Pacific. The President and I share the belief that we simply cannot achieve the goals that we want to achieve in that region and globally without ironclad guarantees between the United States and Japan, between our governments, and just as importantly, between our peoples.
Last fall when Secretary Hagel and I traveled to Tokyo to meet with our Japanese counterparts, we agreed to update our bilateral defense guidelines, which, it is worth noting, had not been done since 1997. Today, Fumio and I had the opportunity to continue discussing how we will modernize our security alliance and set out a roadmap for decades to come. This process will help us continue to respond quickly to natural disasters the way that our nations delivered aid to the Philippines very soon after the Haiyan typhoon hit. And closer security collaboration will also help our nations to continue countering the threat from North Korea, and to address our regional security challenges.
This morning, I also underscored that the United States remains as committed as ever to upholding our treaty obligations with our Japanese allies. That includes with respect to the South China Sea – the East China Sea. The United States neither recognizes nor accepts China’s declared East China Sea ADIZ, and the United States has no intention of changing how we conduct operations in the region. We are deeply committed to maintaining the prosperity and the stability in the Asia Pacific, and that won’t be possible without respect for international law, including freedom of navigation and overflight as set out in the international Law of the Sea.
We’ve been very grateful for Japan’s partnership, not only in the region but increasingly around the world. Japan is helping in Afghanistan, in South Sudan, in Syria, in Haiti, in our efforts to be able to try to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, and elsewhere. And we addressed these issues in our discussions today.
I’m also very grateful personally for Prime Minister Abe’s commitment, made when we were there, and for Fumio following through, on efforts to help with the Palestinian economic initiative. And Japan has made a very serious commitment to help develop the livelihood and economic opportunity for people in the Palestinian territories.
This morning I also congratulated the foreign minister on Japan’s recent ratification of The Hague Abduction Convention. Japan has made some remarkable strides when it comes to supporting human rights and also promoting women’s empowerment. And this is another area that we’re very proud and pleased to be able to partner with them on.
And just earlier this week, some of our folks at the USAID and their Japanese counterparts came together to focus on ways that they could help develop skills and connections among African female entrepreneurs. And this month, our two governments will initiate a development dialogue to search for areas of development cooperation in places like the Pacific Islands or Southeast Asia and Africa.
We also spent time discussing our economic partnership, which is as strong as ever. The United States welcomes Japan’s economic rejuvenation. And we view Japan as a critical trading partner for us, and also their success in this rejuvenation as a model, a positive model, for the rest of Asia. Japanese businesses have long been a top investor in the United States economy, setting up corporate headquarters and stores and factories throughout our country and creating American jobs in the process. Every day, 650,000 people in the United States go to work for Japanese companies.
But we also know there is still untapped potential for growth. This afternoon, we discussed significantly our number-one economic priority, which is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And as the world’s two largest free market economies, the United States and Japan clearly have a strategic stake in getting the TPP off the ground. We believe that the TPP, this agreement, will help us prevent a race to the bottom among businesses, and instead promote innovation, transparency, fairness, and a set of rules that raise the standards by which people do business, and also raise the opportunities for citizens throughout Asia who benefit as a result of those standards.
Both Fumio and I agreed today that finalizing the TPP is one of the most important things that we can do for our countries’ economic futures. And there are still a few issues left where we need to work through them. We talked about those today. But once we do it, that agreement will mean more jobs, more growth, greater stability, and greater security not just for the United States and Japan but throughout the Asia Pacific region.
So it’s a great pleasure for me to have Foreign Minister Kishida here today to build on our close working relationship. And between our economic opportunities, our security collaboration, a redoubled focus on human rights, a commitment to international rules of the road, and growing people-to-people ties, particularly among our nations’ students, I believe this could be really a transformative year, certainly a transformative period, for the U.S.-Japan global partnership. And I am looking forward to continuing to work on our shared goals and vision. Thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) I am visiting Washington, DC after a one-year interval. I just had a bilateral meeting with John, Secretary of State Kerry. I would like to express my gratitude for the warm hospitality accorded to me by the Government of the United States. We discussed Japan-U.S. bilateral issues, regional affairs in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East, and the global agenda. We covered extensive grounds in exchanging our views, and we confirmed the direction of enhancing of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
In terms of the Japan-U.S. relationship, we talked about Vice President Biden’s visit to Japan in December of last year, and NSC Secretary General Yachi visited the United States subsequently, and Deputy Secretary of State Mr. Burns also visited Japan, and I am visiting Washington, DC at this time. So we have been having close communications, and we welcome these communications. And we have agreed to have seamless exchanges at a high level going forward. And concerning President Obama’s upcoming visit to Japan, we are inviting the President as state guest. But when the United States makes its decision, the Japanese side will cooperate so that we will be able to make sure that President Obama’s visit to Japan is a great success.
In terms of security, I have provided explanation about the concrete promotion of proactive contribution to peace. And we concurred that Japan and the United States will cooperate with each other to make a more proactive contribution to the peace and stability in the region and the international community.
Concerning relocation of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station and amongst others, we welcome that there is steady progress being achieved in terms of realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. So in that context, we confirm the holding of the first round of negotiations on February 11th with regard to the supplementing agreement on the environment for SOFA, the Status of Forces Agreement, and we will be making the efforts for the early conclusion of these negotiations.
On the economic front, we had discussion on the TPP, and we concurred that Japan and the United States will cooperate with each other towards the prompt conclusion of the TPP negotiations.
Concerning Asia Pacific regional situation, first we had an exchange of views on the situation pertaining to North Korea and towards the goal of denuclearization of North Korea. We confirmed that there will be collaboration amongst the countries of Japan, United States, and Republic of Korea. And I expressed gratitude for the U.S. understanding and cooperation towards the abduction issue, and that we will continue to make the effort to resolve this problem.
And in terms of responding to North Korea, the relationship with the Republic of Korea is important. There are difficult issues in the relationship between Japan and the Republic of Korea, but Republic of Korea is an important neighbor for Japan, so going forward, we will make tenacious efforts in order to build our cooperative relationship with the Republic of Korea from a broad perspective.
Concerning the relationship between Japan and China, there is no change in the major direction that (inaudible) for a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests. However, with regard to China’s attempt to change the status quo by coercion or intimidation in Senkaku Islands and South China Sea, we agreed that we will respond calmly and with resolve. Particularly with regard to announcement of the Air Defense Identification Zone, we will not be able to accept this, and that we can never condone actions which threaten the safety of civilian aircraft. And bearing in mind the possibility of expanding similar measures to other regions, we agreed to continue close monitoring and surveillance of the situation.
We also had an exchange of views on Southeast Asia as well as in the Middle East, and confirmed the Japan-U.S. cooperation on global agenda. We agreed to have further concrete cooperation in terms of development cooperation and assistance to Myanmar. Such Japan-U.S. cooperation goes beyond the bilateral agenda, but it also covers Asia-Pacific regional affairs and the Middle East situation and global agenda. And – but the whole thing of this bilateral meeting today, we have been able to confirm that the Japan-U.S. alliance is a unfaltering and robust one. So the future Japan based on the proactive contribution to peace. We’d like to continue to cooperate with the United States over broad areas so that we will be able to contribute to peace and stability in the region and the international community. Thank you for your attention.
SECRETARY KERRY: Fumio, thank you very, very much. A very comprehensive summary, I think. And I’d just say at the end as we – unfortunately, we don’t have time to take questions, either of us today, unfortunately. But we both agreed that there is enough on the table and that some of these issues require some further discussion, so we will make certain that we’re going to meet before too much time passes so we can continue this conversation. There are a lot of issues, obviously, that – and I’m going out next week to the region. I will be visiting China, among other countries, and we talked about that relationship and the need to accentuate and articulate the road forward with respect to North Korea. We are both in agreement on that.
So a lot that we agreed on, but we have a continuing dialogue. And I’m very grateful to the effort that Fumio made to be here today, and this conversation will continue. Thank you all very, very much. Thank you. Thank you, my friend.
FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: Thank you.