FOREIGN MINISTER MOTEGI: Tony and General – may I call you Lloyd?
SECRETARY AUSTIN: Yes, please. (Inaudible.)
FOREIGN MINISTER MOTEGI: Welcome to Tokyo. And I’m so glad and delighted to host a 2+2 meeting face-to-face, and for the first time in two years, and even in this COVID situation.
From here, I will speak in Japanese.
(Via Interpreter) This is the first time in history that the U.S. State Secretary and Defense Secretary have together visited Japan as their first overseas port of call after the inauguration of a new administration in the United States. This is proof of the unshakeable commitment that the two of you and the Biden administration have to the Japan-U.S. alliance and the region overall.
Last week, we marked the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11. At the time of the earthquake, the U.S. Forces in Japan dedicated themselves selflessly to Operation Tomodachi and relief work. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation once again to our American friends.
Over the past few years, the world situation has changed greatly. The strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific in particular is in a totally different dimension. There has been a change in the power balance as not only military strength but also economic development and high-tech advancements have exerted an influence on the power situation. The free and open international order is faced with major challenges, such as unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force and the expansion of authoritarianism.
The COVID-19 pandemic that broke out last year has accelerated these trends. In this context, maintaining a free and open international order based on the rule of law and ensuring regional peace, stability, and prosperity are the path and the strategic goals Japan and the U.S. must band together to pursue. From this perspective, Japan is fully committed to further strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, and we sincerely look forward to collaborating closely with both of you.
I believe the order of speakers is Minister Kishi, then Secretary Blinken, and Secretary Austin. Minister Kishi, please.
DEFENSE MINISTER KISHI: (Via Interpreter) Secretary Austin, Secretary Blinken, I would like to warmly welcome you to Japan. Minister Motegi spoke of this, but I also would like to thank you once again for the support we received from the U.S. government and for Operation Tomodachi led by the U.S. military at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake 10 years ago. The fact that our American friends were with us and were supporting us during those difficult days is deeply etched in the hearts of the Japanese people. This experience deepened and strengthened the bonds between our two countries even more and further solidified the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Over the past 10 years, the Japan-U.S. alliance has steadily been strengthened. Our two countries have furthered our strategic dialogue and have joined hands to address security issues in the region and in the world. Moreover, Japan has created legislation for peace and security and moved forward with strengthening its own defense capabilities.
Today more than ever, the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military have become partners who can act together while protecting each other. Amid the increasingly tense security environment, however, we must further solidify the Japan-U.S. alliance. As Defense Minister, I would like to deepen discussions with both of you today on concrete initiatives that we should take to enhance our ability to deter and respond under the Japan-U.S. alliance. Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much. It is really an honor to join you, Mr. Minister, Toshi; Defense Minister Kishi, it’s very good to see you again after many years; and your friend and colleague, Secretary of Defense Austin, to be together for this 2+2 ministerial meeting. And thank you so much to all of our hosts, and to the people of Japan for their extraordinary hospitality, as always.
Secretary Austin and I are the first members of President Biden’s cabinet to make an overseas trip. And for that trip, we’ve come to Japan. Because for more than 60 years, our alliance has been a cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity – not only for our two countries, but for the region, and indeed for the world.
We’re here to reaffirm our commitment to this alliance and to build upon it, to ensure that we keep delivering for our people today and into the future. We too believe that this alliance is critical for a free and open Indo-Pacific region in which countries pursue shared objectives effectively, resolve any differences peacefully, respect international law, and use multilateral institutions to build cooperation.
We will work together on a range of issues that you both alluded to, but these are issues that are not abstractions; they actually shape the lives of our citizens. And that’s why it’s so important that we work closely together on them, whether it’s health security, including stopping COVID-19; economic security; cybersecurity; combatting climate change.
We will continue to work together on core security issues like the denuclearization of North Korea and maritime security, and we’ll stand up for our shared democratic values, because we know that democracy and human rights are core elements of any stable and secure region.
President Biden has emphasized that our administration will lead with diplomacy. That diplomacy that we’ll conduct here today I hope and believe will serve the people of Japan and the United States, and the people across the Indo-Pacific. Our alliance is strong, and together we will make the region stronger. This alliance ultimately is more than a security agreement. It’s also a bond of friendship, trust, and respect.
As you said, Toshi, last week marked the 10th anniversary of the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami – a devastating tragedy. The United States joins you in remembering and honoring those who were lost.
We’re proud to be your friend then, now, and in the years to come. So thank you for receiving us today.
SECRETARY AUSTIN: Minister Motegi, Minister Kishi, I want to thank you for your warm welcome, and I offer my profound thanks to the people of Japan for their gracious hospitality. I am tremendously honored to join all of you here in Tokyo for my first international trip as Secretary of Defense. I’m grateful to join my dear colleague, Secretary Blinken, as we work together to build upon the resolute and resilient bond between our two countries.
As I mentioned to Minister Kishi earlier today, the U.S.-Japan alliance is strong, and I look forward to charting a path towards continued success in the future as we work together to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific. I am a firm believer in the notion that we are at our strongest when we work together as part of a larger team.
And that’s why we stand shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm with Japan – the cornerstone of the alliance, the Indo-Pacific, that has preserved peace and security in this region and across the globe for more than half a century.
As we lead with diplomacy on a range of issues that Secretary Blinken mentioned, I want you to know that we at the Department of Defense stand ever ready to buttress the hard work of our diplomats. Diplomacy and defense complement one another, and together they make us stronger.
Today’s meeting is a testament to that premise, as we work together in the spirit of teamwork and cooperation to seize the shared opportunities and address our shared challenges now and in the years ahead. We need only look at Operation Tomodachi in the wake of the 3/11 tragedy 10 years ago to give us confidence that our resolute and resilient alliance rests firmly on our bonds of friendship and shared sacrifice.
Thanks again for welcoming us today, and I look forward to a productive discussion.