Press Availability
Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Daniel Russel ,National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs
Tokyo, Japan
January 17, 2013

This video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Good morning everyone. Thank you for waiting. I’m sorry to be a few minutes late. Myself from the State Department, Danny Russel from the White House, Mark Lippert from the Department of Defense – we’ve been here in Tokyo for the last two days for high-level consultations in advance of the Foreign Minister’s visit to Washington tomorrow. Secretary Clinton is very much looking forward to welcoming him, and we have had a chance to meet with both politicians and key colleagues in the Foreign Ministry to talk about our critical bilateral relationship.

At the top of the list had been consultations about the developing situation in Algeria. We have offered a specific set of briefings for the Foreign Minister tomorrow when he is in Washington at the highest levels. He was grateful for that commitment, and we are in very close, hourly consultations with the Japanese on the developing situation there, which is very serious, and we are committed to working very closely with Japan until the situation is resolved.

While we’ve been here, we’ve had wide-ranging consultations on the situation on the Korean peninsula, the ongoing deliberations at the United Nations concerning how to respond to the provocative North Korean missile test. We’ve had a chance to talk about maritime security issues, and we’ve made very clear our desire to see cooler heads prevail and the maintenance of peace and stability overall. We’ve also had a chance to talk about opportunities for increasing defense cooperation between our two sides, and we’ve talked about a range of people-to-people and other programs between the United States and Japan, including the “Peace Blossoms” program, which has sent 3,000 American dogwood trees to Japan. We have underscored our commitment to progress on the Hague deliberations. We made substantial progress in the course of the last years. We want very much to see those deliberations concluded. We are grateful for the interactions we have had with Japanese colleagues on that.

All told, I think we have seen a very strong commitment on the part of Prime Minister Abe’s incoming government to maintain the closest possible coordination with the United States. We look forward to continuing those discussions today and tomorrow in Washington, D.C.

Let me ask my colleague and friend Danny Russel if he wants to say a word or two.

SENIOR DIRECTOR RUSSEL: Thank you. Following up on the excellent telephone conversation between President Obama and Prime Minister Abe shortly after the elections in Japan last month, and in anticipation of the visit to Washington by the Foreign Minister and other high-level engagements, this interagency team was instructed to visit Tokyo both to communicate the firm commitment of the Obama Administration to continuing to strengthen the U.S.-Japan Alliance and to push forward our work to promote economic development in the region -- but also to conduct, as Assistant Secretary Campbell just mentioned, more of the ongoing discussions across the broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. I think our conversations thus far were quite productive, and it’s part of a continuum of extremely close and extremely effective consultations between such good friends and partners. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We can take a couple of quick questions.

QUESTION: Why don’t (inaudible) message about the Japan (inaudible) relations and the Japan-China relationship, relating to the Senkakus and Takeshima and such issues including “comfort women.” What are your (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Our general proposition is that, increasingly, Northeast Asia is the cockpit of the global economy. It’s remarkably important for global growth. We believe that good relations between Japan, China, and South Korea are in the best interests of all concerned. We have encouraged those consultations to take place privately. The United States has no intention to play an intermediating role, but we do support the efforts that the Japanese government has taken to reach out to South Korea, to reach out to China. We want those conversations to continue.

QUESTION: You mentioned repeatedly that the U.S. wants to see cooler heads prevail. Does that mean you are seeing too many hot heads in Japan? And especially, what steps would you like to see Japan take?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We are concerned by some of the actions around maritime issues. We have conveyed privately our desire for quiet diplomacy and effective diplomacy to take place between all of the parties involved.

QUESTION: Could you specify what kind of maritime issues…?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think, frankly, these conversations are more effective if they are kept quiet, but I will tell you we are very actively engaged in them on a daily basis.

QUESTION: Reaction by which country, the Chinese side or the Japanese side?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think I’ll just stick by what I’ve already said. Thanks.

QUESTION: Do you have any plan to send a message against China?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We’ve already sent very clearly our overarching messages. We’ve articulated strongly our principles with respect to freedom of navigation, peaceful resolution of disputes and the need for close consultations among the affected parties. We do have private conversations with Chinese friends, and we are in close consultation – witness this trip – with Japan.

QUESTION: What do you see when Japan-U.S. defense guidelines have been revised? What changes do you expect?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Look, it’s been many years since the last revision of the defense guidelines. One of the reasons that Assistant Secretary Lippert is with us is that that process is beginning now. We are interested in concrete areas where the United States and Japan can work more effectively together – humanitarian issues, issues to promote freedom of navigation, support for broader maintenance of peace and stability in Asia. I’m confident that we will be able to work together responsibly towards a goal that will be welcome not only between the United States and Japan, but in the broader region as a whole.

QUESTION: Do you think it would be better if Japan recognizes the existence of a dispute with China?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I don’t think I’m going to say anything further than I’ve already said. Thank you very much.