Comments delivered:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo, Japan, Jan. 6, 2012


Remarks to the Media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Tokyo, Japan
January 6, 2012



ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: First of all, good evening everyone, and I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Let me just say, on behalf of my delegation, it’s wonderful to be back in Tokyo, in Japan. I’ve had a series of meetings today with my key interlocutors and others in the Japanese government. I’ve had a good opportunity to discuss issues of mutual concern with our excellent ambassador here, Ambassador Roos, and his team. Let me just say that we are enjoying an extraordinarily close period of partnership between the United States and Japan. We were able to review our progress last year in the outstanding meeting that took place between the Prime Minister and the President in Hawaii, and we reviewed our game plan going forward – areas that we need to enhance our cooperation. We talked in some detail about developments on the Korean Peninsula, and the need for close coordination between the United States and Japan and South Korea; we talked extensively about our mutual desire to see peace and stability, and to share information with all the key players, including China. In addition to these matters, we talked about a range of other issues of interest to the United States and Japan: our mutual efforts in Burma; our coordination in multilateral fora such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum. 

I also had a chance to visit the Justice Ministry. We reviewed the progress to date on the Japanese commitment to follow through on accession to the Hague Convention. The President, as you know, discussed this with the Prime Minister in Hawaii, and the Justice Minister spoke with us about next steps. We told him that we will be following closely issues associated with implementing legislation, and we want very much for that legislation to adhere to global norms in which Japan can work closely with other countries associated with issues associated with child welfare. We also underscored how important it will be for Japan to demonstrate progress on the existing cases. This is of enormous significance, importance, to us – and we want to work closely to ensure visitation, to ensure that the left-behind parents have the opportunity to interact with their children. We called on the Ministry and other key players to take the necessary steps. The United States has been very patient — we support this relationship very strongly — but we’re going to need to see some progress going forward.

I think with that, I’d be very pleased to take your questions. I only have a few minutes, but would be happy to answer questions going forward.

QUESTION: Did you discuss any details on the environmental assessment report on relocation of Futenma Air Base?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We did, in some of our meetings, talk about the need to move forward on Futenma, and the submission of the report. I think we all understand the importance of making progress. I think it’s clear that yesterday, the President and Secretary Panetta underscored that even while the United States is making adjustments in its global military posture, we are intent on maintaining a very strong, enduring military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. And I just want to underscore that, overall, our commitment to the security of Japan and to regional security in Asia will continue. And we will also be taking steps to strengthen and diversify our security relationships around the Pacific.

QUESTION: Did you discuss any details about legislation on Iran sanctions, and how it’s going to affect Japan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Yes. The Japanese government has raised some concerns about this legislation. We understand some of the difficulties these raise for Japan and other partners. But I think we all share an interest in making sure that Iran is dissuaded from steps that lead towards unacceptable nuclear options.

QUESTION: About the North Korean issue: will the trilateral meeting with South Korea and Japan be held in Washington on the 16th of this month?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think we’ve agreed that we’ll be holding a meeting in the near future. I think the exact date, we are still coordinating among our partners.

QUESTION: There was a rumor in the Seoul stock exchange that there was an explosion in a North Korean nuclear facility. Did you hear anything about that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I haven’t yet. I’ve just heard that rumor, but I’ve heard nothing further. I can’t confirm or deny, and I just simply don’t know.

I’ll take one last question.

QUESTION: Is there any way that Japan can keep some of its Iranian oil imports, while avoiding the U.S. sanctions?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think I won’t get into further details beyond what I’ve already said, so I think, simply stated, we understand some of the concerns but we also have made clear what our ultimate goal will be with respect to putting the necessary pressure on Iran.

One last question, anyone?

QUESTION: When do you expect the Prime Minister to go to the States?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I don’t think… well, ultimately, a formal invitation, and the timing of an invitation, is handled by the White House. And I really have nothing further to say, beyond that obviously, we look forward to very close relations and high-level visits between the United States and Japan. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the magnificent gift of the cherry trees from the United States to Japan*. We’ll have about a month of festivities; I think very high-level Americans are going to participate in that. We hope to be able to make a reciprocal gift to Japan, and we will be working closely with Japanese colleagues about appropriate timing for visits. I think the Foreign Minister had a very good visit with Secretary Clinton in December, and we just look forward to continuing high-level engagements as we move forward.

Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: One question about the Hague Convention: do you see any progress in the situation in resolving the current ongoing cases?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We haven’t seen enough progress, no. Thank you.

*should read “to the United States from Japan.”