Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Assistant Secretary of Defense Wallace Gregson
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tokyo, Japan
February 2, 2010

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Good to see you all. This morning, Assistant Secretary Gregson and myself met with our Japanese counterparts as part of the process that we will conduct over the course of the next year. This process was put in place by Foreign Minister Okada and Secretary Clinton in Hawaii. It's meant to underscore a process to strengthen our bilateral relationship at every level. And so we talked about regional security issues, developments on the Korean peninsula, issues associated with our mutual desire to positively engage China, and developments further afield. We also talked specifically about areas that we seek to enhance our bilateral consultations on cyber-security, information assurance, issues associated with space, and other critical issues of 21st-century security challenges. We talked specifically also about the FRF -- the Futenma issue -- the United States was very clear in our presentation to the Japanese side that we believe that the current plan was the best plan. We explained again why we thought that was the case. The Japanese government briefed us about the situation in Japan after the election and told us about the process that is under way among the political parties concerning next steps in deliberations.

We told the Japanese government that we are prepared to work closely with them on developing the way forward, that the United States wants to be consultative and responsive and that we are in no way intransigent - we are a partner in this process- and that we want to play a positive and supportive role and that we sought the opportunity to engage with them on next steps at the earliest possible time. We also agreed to a series of next steps in terms of formal meetings between our two sides, and those will take place over the course of the next several months. I think these were productive discussions. They were highly substantive, and I think they reveal a deep sense of commitment on both sides to make sure that our relationship has a very strong forward momentum. General Gregson?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GREGSON: I'd just like to stress the collaborative discussions on the Futenma Replacement Facility and emphasize that we look forward to the early implementation of the plan.


QUESTION: Why is it difficult for the American side to be more flexible on this Futenma matter when we know that the Japanese government is indeed seeking an alternative?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Well, what we've tried to indicate is that we think that the plan that we have worked out -- and remember this is a plan that was discussed and developed with Japan over a period of years -- we've tried to underscore why we think that this is the best approach going forward, but we've also indicated that of course the United States is prepared to discuss and talk about these issues with Japan, and we stand ready both to make clear why our current approach makes the most sense, but also to answer questions and explore other options as well.

QUESTION: But don't you think, as a fact, that the Nago mayoral election has made it difficult for Japan to move on to the current plan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We tried to make clear - and I think this is understood by the Japanese government as well - that issues associated with our security partnership, those decisions fundamentally have to be taken at the level of Washington and Tokyo. Yes, local conditions come to play, but these big decisions are at the level of our central governments.

QUESTION: And how much could this Futenma issue hamper your discussions about deepening the alliance?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We feel very confident that we are going to be able to work together going forward. There is a much higher level of dialogue and discussion now. I think that there is a greater understanding of what the challenges are. Also, what some of the national security and foreign policy challenges that both governments face. I think a recognition in both capitals that this is an alliance that both countries have come to depend on. And that there really is no option but to make sure that we are working closely together going forward. And so I personally am quite confident about the time ahead. General?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GREGSON: I agree. We have many matters under consideration with the alliance, and we discuss, as we always do, a range of topics with our Japanese colleagues. The issue that’s so popular here is merely one item that needs attention. It is not indicative of any fundamental disconnect with our most valuable bilateral alliance relationship.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: So even though obviously your focus primarily today is on Futenma, in our long and detailed meetings with the Japanese last night, this morning, and then in the formal meetings, literally, we take up hundreds of issues. That's the nature and depth and breadth of our alliance. I think that’s all for now. Thank you very much.