Remarks by Secretary of State Kerry With Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida Before Their Meeting

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–February 22, 2013.

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. It’s my great pleasure to welcome the Foreign Minister of Japan, His Excellency Fumio Kishida. We’ve just come from an excellent meeting of the President and the Prime Minister of Japan, and I think it’s fair to say that almost every topic with respect to Japanese-American relations was discussed.

We meet now, two of the three strongest economies in the world, and we meet as very special friends in a very strong alliance, an alliance that I can say to you is really evolving into a global partnership and which is critical to the peace and security of the Asia Pacific.

I want to particularly thank the people of Japan and the leadership of Japan for their extraordinary cooperation on a number of global issues: on counterterrorism; the efforts with respect to Afghanistan, where Japan has been a major partner; efforts in Mali most recently, where we regret the loss of life and we particularly express our sympathies to Japan for the loss of 10 citizens at the In Amenas facility. And Japan has worked hard with respect to the issue of nuclear nonproliferation. They have been an important partner in reducing the level of fuel being used and bought, purchased from Iran. They’ve been important with respect to the enforcement of sanctions.

Japan is also a very important partner in efforts to try to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, and the Prime Minister raised this issue in the conversation with the President. And Japan, importantly, has been part of the Major Economies Forum and the Clean Climate Coalition and other initiatives, and I think the Minister and I look forward to following up on the discussion that was initiated by the President and the Prime Minister earlier.

Just to underscore the importance of the relationship with Japan, obviously everybody has been aware of tensions around the Senkakus Islands, and I want to compliment Japan on the restraint that it has shown, its efforts to try to make sure that this does not flare up into a significant confrontation. And we make it clear with respect to the Republic of – the Democratic Republic of North Korea, which has recently engaged in very reckless behavior with its nuclear test, that we believe the alliance with Japan is strong, our security commitments with Japan are real and we stand behind them, and they are strong.

So I welcome the Foreign Minister here. There are a number of things that are less critical, I think, that we will be talking about, but I look forward to a good discussion. And most importantly, I look forward to this very important continued global alliance and partnership that we have built. Thank you for visiting us, Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) Let me start by saying that I appreciate the kind and powerful messages and words from Secretary Kerry with regard to Japan. Right after taking office as Secretary of State, we have had two opportunities so far to talk to each other over the phone, and this is our first meeting – face-to-face meeting, and certainly it is my pleasure to see you in person this time.

With Mr. Secretary, I certainly have looked forward to having discussions on the Japan-U.S. alliance, as well as how we respond to the situations in the Asia Pacific, in the Middle East, as well as the Sahel, and also how we look forward to working on global issues such as counterterrorism and also the issue of environment. And I certainly look forward to having a discussion, and also, by doing so, we would like to deepen our cooperation.

Just a while ago both Mr. Secretary and myself attended the Japan-U.S. summit meeting and during the meeting both leaders had a candid discussion to cover issues such as the economy, security affairs, as well as foreign policy challenges. And I would like to underscore that the meeting was indeed very meaningful. And right now we are going to have the Japan-U.S. foreign ministers meeting with Mr. Secretary, and by having this meeting we would like to do a follow-up based on the outcome of the discussion of the summit meeting. And also, we would like to have the exchange of opinions on the regional affairs.

Obviously, the Japan-U.S. alliance is a lynchpin of the – Japan’s foreign policy, and by working together hand in hand with Mr. Secretary, we would like to achieve progress in reinforcing the Japan-U.S. alliance. And once again, thank you very much for taking the time out to have the foreign ministers meeting today.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you.