U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Republic of Korea (ROK) Minister of National Defense Shin Wonsik, and Japanese Minister of Defense Kihara Minoru convened a Trilateral Ministerial Meeting on November 12, 2023. Secretary Austin and Minister Shin met in Seoul, South Korea, with Minister Kihara joining the meeting virtually. The leaders discussed shared regional security concerns and reviewed the implementation of trilateral security cooperation lines of effort agreed to at the historic Camp David Summit on August 18, 2023.
During the meeting, the three leaders assessed regional security issues, including the growing nuclear and missile threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). In particular, the Secretary and the two Ministers strongly condemned the DPRK's space launch vehicle tests as they violate United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) that prohibit any launch using ballistic missile technology. The three leaders discussed ways to strengthen trilateral security cooperation to address these kinds of security challenges in the Indo-Pacific.
The three leaders stressed the importance of the rules-based international order and expressed strong opposition to any unilateral actions that seek to alter the status quo by force or coercion. They reaffirmed their commitment to stand with Ukraine against Russia's unprovoked and brutal war of aggression, and recognized that Russia's actions are a serious violation of sovereignty that undermine the fabric of the international order.
Additionally, the Secretary and the two Ministers emphasized the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community. They shared concerns on activities that are inconsistent with international law, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and condemned recent dangerous activities against the vessels, ships, and aircraft operating in and over the East and South China Seas.
The three leaders assessed that trilateral partnership between the United States, Japan, and the ROK is stronger than ever following the Camp David Summit and reviewed implementation progress for trilateral security cooperation initiatives announced at the summit.
The Secretary and the two Ministers decided on a mechanism to facilitate the exchange of real-time missile warning data and improve each country's ability to monitor missiles launched by the DPRK. They confirmed that the data sharing mechanism is in the final stages of testing and agreed to fully operationalize the mechanism by the end of December.
They also encouraged accelerated development of a multi-year trilateral exercise plan, which is currently being formulated to conduct trilateral exercises more systematically and efficiently and is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2023.
The Secretary and two Ministers noted the success of a trilateral aerial exercise held in October 2023 between the three countries and emphasized the importance of continuing these activities to demonstrate the three countries' strong will and capacity to respond to threats in the Indo-Pacific.
Secretary Austin reaffirmed the United States steadfast alliance and extended deterrence commitments to Japan and the ROK backed by the full range of U.S. capabilities, including nuclear capabilities. Minister Kihara and Minister Shin highlighted the importance of their bilateral ties in addition to trilateral cooperation to protect and advance their shared security goals. The Secretary and the Ministers committed to continue working closely together to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.