On the initial overseas stop of his first Asia-Pacific trip as defense secretary, Ash Carter met today in Tokyo with Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani to discuss the alliance and mutual world interests.
As the U.S. military rebalances its focus in that part of the world, Carter told reporters in a joint press conference he and Nakatani reaffirmed their nations’ strong alliance, and Carter spoke of his personal interest in cultivating those ties.
“Japan is already a country that provides support around the world, whether rebuilding Iraq or Afghanistan, supporting efforts to combat health crises like Ebola or providing support to displaced persons from conflicts such as [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant],” he said.
Following their meeting at Japan’s Ministry of Defense in Tokyo, Nakatani said the two leaders covered a lot of common ground when they spoke.
Alliance Talks: From Space to Cyber Space
The leaders talked about defense cooperation guidelines, security legislation, space, cyberspace, equipment and science technology cooperation, in addition to the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
Carter said he’s “personally committed to overseeing the next phase of the U.S. rebalance, which will deepen and diversify our engagement in the region.”
Everything the Defense Department is doing in the Asia-Pacific region is a part of those efforts, he added.
“Our investments in technological breakthroughs, deploying our finest capabilities to the Asia-Pacific and realigning our posture in the region, helps reinforce the close bonds of friendship, such as the U.S.-Japan alliance, that are the bedrock of our key role in the security of the Asia-Pacific,” Carter said.
Leaders Agree on Security Challenges
The security environment in the Asia-Pacific region encourages agreements to oppose attempts at changing the status quo by force in the East China Sea and elsewhere, Nakatani said.
“There are few better examples of that commitment than our two governments’ work to update our alliance's defense guidelines, which hasn't been done since 1997,” he said. “Much has changed in the past 18 years. We face new threats in new domains with new capabilities.”
The new defense guidelines detail how both governments will continue to work together around the world and in new domains such as space and cyberspace, and Nakatani said it would ensure Japan's peace and security and help it respond flexibly “to the full scope of challenges we face,” both in the region and around the world.
“As part of our rebalance, we are adapting our overall defense posture in the region to meet [and] be more broadly distributed, more flexible and more sustainable,” Carter said. “As a result, we are committed to being good neighbors, which includes realigning our bases and being cognizant of any negative impacts of our operations on local communities.”