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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, let me kick things off by just again saying welcome to everyone.  Welcome to my good friend, the foreign minister, the defense minister, Secretary of Defense.

In 2021, the very first foreign trip that Secretary Austin and I made was to Japan.  And as we said at the time, that was because our alliance of more than 60 years has long been a cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, and it’s got to continue to be given the complex challenges we face.

So it feels fitting to me to start this year, 2022, by meeting again with our Japanese colleagues.  I’m sorry that the pandemic is forcing us to meet virtually, but it only underscores why we have to keep leading the international response to beat back this virus.  And I know there’s more that we’re going to be doing in the weeks and months ahead to do just that.

Secretary Austin, it seems COVID-19 is yet another adversary that you’re vanquishing.  Really glad that you’re back to full strength and to have you on the screen.

Since our last 2+2 meeting, we have worked in full partnership to strengthen and modernize our alliance – aligning our strategy, setting shared goals, ensuring that our nations are committing the resources necessary to actually meet them.

We’re fostering greater coordination with other allies and partners – reinvigorating the Quad, together with India and Australia; deepening U.S.-Japan-South Korea trilateral ties.  This is essential to addressing the challenges that no one of our countries can effectively tackle alone, whether it’s the pandemic or whether it’s other challenges we face like economic coercion.

Our militaries are training and deploying more together.  As we do, our forces are improving their capacity to conduct complex, joint operations.  This was evident in the multi-carrier operation that our militaries conducted near Okinawa in October, together with the United Kingdom, with New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada.

We’re also focusing more on economic security, whether that’s working together to strengthen supply chains or investing in green infrastructure to help prevent a climate catastrophe and create good-paying jobs for our workers – to give just a couple of examples.

For these and so many other reasons, our alliance has never been more crucial to realizing a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.  And, in my judgment at least, it’s never been stronger.

The alliance needs to be to meet the challenges that we face today.

China and Russia continue to violate international norms – on land, at sea, in space, in cyberspace.  Beijing’s provocative actions keep raising tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and in the East and South China Seas.  Moscow’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders and its increasingly harsh rhetoric not only threaten Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but peace and stability across Europe.  And Beijing and Moscow are deepening their military cooperation.  Meanwhile, the DPRK’s unlawful nuclear and missile programs pose an ongoing threat, and we saw that again this week with the most recent launch.

These aggressive actions threaten the rules-based international order that both of us have invested a lot in, and it’s provided the foundation for peace, for security, for prosperity for people in both of our countries and around the world.

So to address these evolving threats, our alliance must not only strengthen the tools we have, but also develop new ones.  And I think that’s really the focus of the discussions that we’re about to have.

We’re thrilled that our newly confirmed Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, is participating in these meetings, and will be heading to Tokyo very soon.  He will bring leadership, he will bring urgency, he will bring creativity that our vital alliance demands.

Before handing it over to Lloyd, let me just preview two steps that we’re going to take in the coming days to deepen our cooperation.

First, we’ll sign a new five-year Host Nation Support framework that will invest greater resources to deepen our military readiness and interoperability.

And we’re launching a new research and development agreement that will make it easier for our scientists, for our engineers, and program managers to collaborate on emerging defense-related issues – from countering hypersonic threats to advancing space-based capabilities.  When Japanese and American researchers bring their complementary strengths to bear, we can outcompete and out-innovate anyone.

So we’re eager to dig into these discussions, and to keep strengthening and modernizing this alliance, which is more critical and also more vital than ever.

Secretary Austin, Lloyd, over to you.

SECRETARY AUSTIN:  Well, thanks, Secretary Blinken. Minister Kishi, Minister Hayashi, it is indeed an honor to join you and Secretary Blinken today.  I’m sorry that we are not able to meet in person.  I realize that that probably would have been the case anyway given the spread of a new coronavirus variant, but it was made certain by my positive COVID test a few days ago.  I’m very grateful that I’m fully vaccinated and got a booster shot.  My doctor tells me that that’s made my case far milder.  Looking forward to getting back in the office and to carrying on the fight against this swiftly changing virus, and I know that you all feel the same way.

So it’s especially meaningful for me to be with you today, and beyond the pandemic, I wanted to join you to underscore the strength of our alliance.  We know how strong that alliance is today.  It remains the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the region, and we’re rightly proud that it’s built upon a foundation of not just common interests but also of shared values.

But some of those interests and values are under threat today, and so our discussion comes at a critical moment.  We’re meeting against a backdrop of increased tensions and challenges to the free and stable and secure Indo-Pacific region that we both seek – challenges posed by North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and by the coercive and aggressive behavior of the People’s Republic of China.  So together we’re taking bold steps to improve our alliance, bolster our readiness, and strengthen what I call integrated deterrence.

Just last month we completed Exercise Yama Sakura 81, which was the largest bilateral and joint command post drill in 40 years of this exercise.  And we followed this up with Exercise Resolute Dragon, which was a massive joint operation between U.S. and JSDF forces.  We truly remain grateful for the support that Japan continues to provide U.S. forces deployed there and for an extraordinary level of mutual cooperation against a full spectrum of military capabilities.

We will and we must continue to work even more closely together, and so our meeting today will build upon the discussions that we have already had, including last spring in Tokyo.  It helped us to lay down a framework for the coming year and into the future.  This framework will include, first, enhancing alliance capabilities across all domains; also, evolving our roles and missions to reflect Japan’s growing ability to contribute to regional peace and stability; and optimizing our alliance force posture to strengthen deterrence.

I’m optimistic about the future that we’re building together and I look forward to a candid and productive discussion today. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAYASHI:  (Via interpreter) Tony and Secretary Austin, good morning from Tokyo.  It is indeed a great pleasure to have this 2+2 meeting despite remotely.  For the security policy of Japan, this year, 2022, is going to be an extremely important year, as a variety of strategic instruments is going to be formulated in earnest.  It is quite opportune that this important year begins with Japan-U.S. 2+2 with both secretaries.

The international community is faced with fundamental and multifaceted challenges such as the change in the strategic balance, unilateral and coercive attempt to change the status quo, abusive use of unfair pressure, and expanding authoritarian regime, among others.  Not only in assuring the security of both Japan and the United States, but also in maintaining rules-based free and open international order and ensuring regional peace, stability, and prosperity, it is more important than ever that Japan and the U.S. are united and exhibit leadership as both nations share strategic interests and universal value.

Both Japan and the U.S. must always continue to respond effectively to various challenges of the present and the future.  I’m fully committed to enhance constantly the alliance between our nations toward realizing free and open Indo-Pacific.  I’m truly looking forward to collaborate closely with both of you.  Thank you.

DEFENSE MINISTER KISHI:  (Via interpreter) It is a great pleasure for me to have the opportunity to talk with Secretary of Defense Austin and Secretary of State Blinken.  Unfortunately, it was not possible for me to visit Washington, D.C.  However, it is extremely meaningful that the governments of Japan and the United States hold the 2+2 meeting, even if only by video conference, to demonstrate to the world the strong solidarity between Japan and the United States and to share the recognition of the future direction of the alliance.

Today I hope to review the progress made by Japan and the United States in their respective efforts and the results of Japan-U.S. cooperation since the last 2+2, and to have wide-ranging discussions on the direction toward strengthening the alliance.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Excuse me.  Thank you both very much, and I think we’re going to switch over now and get into our discussions, so we will – we’ll move to that right now.

U.S. Department of State

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