ADM Harry Harris
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation
Japan - U.S. Military Statesmen Forum
July 27, 2016
Thanks, Admiral, for that great introduction. Admiral Mike Mullen is a great American and a great friend of Japan - so thanks for that, sir - and I'd also like to acknowledge Minister Nakatani, Vice Minister Sugiyama, Ambassador Kennedy... we are so fortunate - both countries - to have you as America's representative in Japan... my good friend Admiral Kawano; and fellow flag and general officers, including Generals Myers, Sharp, Sugiyama, and Okabe; Admirals Keating, Roughhead, Blair, Rogers, Takei, Saito, Oriki; and General Iwasaki. Giants all... and I stand on the shoulders of giants here in front of you today - so thank you for that.
A special shout-out to thank our departing U.S.F.J. commander, Lt. General Dolan, and Mrs. Dolan. They'll be leaving for the Pentagon next week... so our condolences to you both.
While I was preparing my remarks for this event I asked my wife Bruni for some advice. She replied, “well Harry, there’s a first time for everything, so you might try being funny... and brief.”
I’ll keep that in mind as we get going.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I’m deeply honored to be here to discuss the U.S.-Japan alliance. Thanks so much to the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation for bringing us all together. The work of Dr. Yoichi Funabashi and the R.J.I.F. to uphold the rules-based international order to which Japan has greatly contributed is important work and juice worth the squeeze.
A strong and prosperous Japan is essential to a strong and prosperous Indo-Asia-Pacific, so let me begin by sharing a parable with all of you.
Nan-in, a Zen master during the Meiji era, once received a professor who came to him to learn about enlightenment.
Nan-in served tea, poured the professor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the tea flood over the side of the cup until he no longer could restrain himself and said, “Master, it’s overfull. No more will go in!”
Nan-in replied, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope this conference gives us the chance to empty our cups of preconceived notions and outdated ideas – and then fill them with each other’s insights, knowledge and wisdom.
The focus of today’s discussions has been on deepening U.S.-Japan security cooperation as a starting point for how the alliance can defend universal values at the global level.
How apropos, because I believe that it’s more important than ever to sustain the rules-based international order that has served so many so well in this region for so long.
In my opinion, the U.S.-Japan alliance has never been stronger. And in a world crying out for leadership at the global level, the need for our alliance has never been stronger. But I believe we’ve come to a fork in the road. We have three paths from which to choose.
The first path is one of retreat: turn around and go back down the road we’ve come. By taking this path, I believe we cede the mantle of leadership and allow revision of the current security framework.
The second path is one of the status quo. Don’t rock the boat. This is the easy path, one focused on ourselves without much regard for the other nations in the system. But this path doesn’t help us adequately address the new global challenges that exceed the scope of our own individual abilities and capabilities – challenges like terrorism. As we tragically witnessed the last couple of weeks in Kabul, in Ansbach, in Nice, and in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray today, the global threat of terrorism continues to plague humanity. Earlier this month, we saw the horrific outcome of the Islamic State’s – ISIL’s – deadly ideology in Bangladesh. Seven of the victims in Dhaka were Japanese citizens. My condolences go out to all those killed and injured, and their loved ones, victimized during all of these cowardly attacks.
I often talk about the U.S. strategic Rebalance to this region. Regrettably, I believe that ISIL is also trying to rebalance to the Indo-Asia-Pacific. To halt the Islamic State’s cancerous spread in Asia, we can’t work alone. We must work together. Thankfully, Japan and many other like-minded nations have joined the counter-ISIL coalition. Together, we can – and will – eradicate this disease.
Multinational cooperation shows us the third path – one advocated by the R.J.I.F. and one I enthusiastically endorse: a path where we leverage the power of the U.S.-Japan alliance to work on a global scale with a broad base of partners guided by the rules-based international order that has maintained stability, prosperity, and peace in this region for decades.
Famous philosopher and beloved baseball player Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Well folks, cooperation among like-minded partners to uphold the rules-based order is the fork we must take because it expands cooperation to protect the rights and freedoms of all nations to operate and engage in commerce in the maritime and other domains.
Freedom of the seas matters, freedom in the air and space matters, Internet freedom matters, the free flow of information and commerce matters. History proves that championing open access to shared domains is the only “win-win” that matters.
Indeed, the peace and prosperity this region has enjoyed for decades were made possible through adherence to the principles that are the foundation of the current rules-based order – to include freedom of navigation and overflight for all civilian and military vessels, unimpeded lawful commerce, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
These principles are not abstractions, nor are they subject to the whims of any one country. They are not privileges to be granted or withdrawn. They make sense because they have worked for decades keeping the peace while creating economic conditions to lift more than a billion people out of poverty.
So I’d like to spend a little time on this concept of unfettered access to shared domains. As a naval officer, I’ll start with the maritime domain, which has been a traditional pathway of commerce throughout history. Today, more than $5 trillion in annual trade passes though the South China Sea. The oceans that once kept us apart are now the superhighways that bring us together.
Also, let’s not forget that 95 percent of all international communications flow seamlessly through the undersea cables resting on the ocean floor. The very vitality of our nations, marked by economic prosperity and strong connectivity, relies on access to the globe’s waterways.
And as a Navy flyer, I can attest that the air domain provides a remarkable model of global effort and cooperation. Here we see international laws and widely accepted standards converging to ensure open and safe access to all.
Our exploration and expansion into the space domain have allowed us to manage our terrestrial spaces better. G.P.S., for example, has made travel safer and easier. Commercial ventures into space are truly bearing fruit. Commercial SATCOM has been around for decades and just a couple of months ago, SpaceX reusable rockets resupplied the International Space Station, demonstrating there’s money to be made “out there.”
The cyber domain represents the newest frontier, producing the most remarkable level of global connectivity ever known to man. This invisible, vast manmade network of commerce, communication, and information links citizens of all nations.
Facebook connects 1.6 billion people every month, over 500 million in Asia alone. Last Friday, more than 10 million people downloaded the game “Pokemon Go” – the game we’ve heard so much about here tonight – in just the first few hours of being debuted here in Japan. And thanks to Twitter, the word “hashtag” has been added to languages throughout the world. Open access to cyberspace gives anyone with an Internet connection the opportunity to share and learn.
In fact, the cyber domain is helping me learn a new language that transcends international boundaries – emoji.
Jokes aside, this is serious business. Notwithstanding the power of the Internet to spread terrorist ideology and criminal enterprises, I believe open access to shared domains actually makes the world a better place. And when we work together in multinational ways to protect the foundational concept of open access, we enhance trust and diminish suspicion.
This is the vision of the principled security network that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter discussed recently at Shangri-La. And it’s being operationalized right now, as I speak, during our RIMPAC exercise, where 26 nations are working together to find ways to enhance the global security architecture.
Think about what we could accomplish in Northeast Asia if the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and China worked together, just as we are doing right now off the coast of Hawaii. Think about what we could accomplish in South Asia if the U.S., Japan, Australia, China and India worked together to improve the lives of over a billion people living in the countries of the Indian Ocean.
I’m pleased that the United States continues to create inclusive opportunities like RIMPAC, where we can demonstrate the benefits of working with other nations to address shared security challenges.
At the same time, I’m watching with great interest the outcomes of the July 12th Arbitral Tribunal ruling. This ruling speaks for itself and needs no clarification from me.
The United States believes the claimants in the South China Sea should use the Tribunal’s decision as a new opportunity to renew efforts to address their maritime disputes peacefully. We encourage claimants to clarify their maritime claims in accordance with international law, as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention, and to work together to creatively manage and resolve their disputes.
India's response to similar arbitration is an example of a great power acting responsibly. In 2014, India accepted the Tribunal’s decision regarding a longstanding sea boundary dispute with Bangladesh. A more peaceful and prosperous region has resulted.
Peace and prosperity are the by-products of the rules-based order. That’s why the U.S. position is clear. We want to see disputes resolved peacefully and without coercion. We want all claimants to respect the right of arbitration mechanisms provided for under UNCLOS. And U.S. policy is clear on the Senkakus – as President Obama has said, the Senkakus fall within the scope of Article 5 of our Mutual Security Treaty.
For our part, we will continue efforts to create conducive conditions for the disputes to be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law. And we will encourage all claimants to invigorate diplomatic efforts to constructively manage and, over time, resolve their disputes.
But this isn’t the only test we face. Of the five strategic challenges Secretary Carter identified that drive U.S. defense planning and budgeting – North Korea, China, Russia, ISIL and Iran – four are in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. We cannot turn a blind eye to these challenges. And we cannot give any nation or insidious non-state actor a pass if they purposefully erode the current rules-based order.
North Korea – our most immediate threat – snubs the very stability created by the rules-based system. This year alone, it has conducted a nuclear test and many missile launches. All of these acts are in direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Think about it. Combining ballistic missile technology with nuclear warheads in the hands of an unstable and volatile leader is a recipe for disaster. The actions of Pyongyang threaten all of us here tonight. We must continue to loudly condemn this sort of aberrational behavior.
To more effectively combat this threat, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. must work together across the full spectrum of military operations. More tactical information sharing between South Korea, Japan and the U.S. is essential. The successful Pacific Dragon Ballistic Missile Defense exercise I mentioned earlier, our three nations conducted last month off Hawaii is testament to our resolve to enhance trilateral cooperation. But let’s make sure that this exercise is just the beginning – we can and must do more.
Additionally, Japan and the U.S. must double-down on our foundational principles – the rule of law, and the freedom to fly, sail, and operate together wherever international law allows. By doing so, we encourage other nations to do the same.
We should cooperate when we can, and be ready to confront where we must.
Making multilateralism work in the real world is a tangible demonstration of U.S. commitment to the region, so I’m eager to explore more opportunities between Japan, the U.S., and other like-minded nations such as India and Australia. I rely heavily on Australia -- not only for its advanced military capabilities, but importantly, for its warfighting experience and leadership in operations around the world. Exercise Malabar – which India, Japan, and the U.S. recently conducted in Northeast Asia – demonstrates the power of collaboration. A shout-out to India for hosting this annual exercise and helping us enhance multinational cooperation.
Another action Japan and the U.S. can take now is to get ambitious in the cyber domain. Earlier today, Admiral Rogers discussed specific steps. But taking the cyber-initiative won’t happen on its own. It will take buy-in from both the public and private sectors. Both sectors, from both nations, must work together. Our two nations are the most technologically advanced in the world. Let’s use this strength to address capability gaps through technological innovation and leadership.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s fair to say Japan and the United States have built an extraordinary record of cooperation and true partnership since the end of World War II. Our alliance is based on mutual interests, shared values, and an enduring spirit of respect between our peoples.
Tonight, I can’t help but think about the past, its influence on the present, and how it will shape our future. What my father, a U.S. Navy Sailor, must have thought almost 75 years ago while he was stationed aboard an aircraft carrier steaming in the Pacific when the war began. What my Japanese mother, who grew up in Kobe, must have thought watching her homeland destroyed.
Because people from both our nations decided to choose a path of cooperation, I now stand here as an American among true friends.
Those who came before us made a choice to build a path of security, prosperity and peace undergirded by a rules-based international order.
And now, we too, must choose.
We owe it to the memories of our ancestors and to the hopes of our children’s futures to reinforce the path forged by so many who sacrificed so much.
Prime Minister Abe had it right when he addressed the U.S. Congress: our alliance is an alliance of hope. Our alliance is a beacon for other nations in having the courage to overcome historical enmities. Now, we must take action to deepen and expand our network of multinational partnerships to meet global challenges and ensure the rules-based international order endures.
Folks, I’ve spoken too long, so I’ll close my remarks by saying that earlier this month, I had the great pleasure and honor of hosting Ambassador Kennedy at my home in Hawaii. Her leadership here in Japan inspired me to look up a speech given by her father in 1960 that I think is a clarion call to the issues we face at this very moment. In paraphrase, President Kennedy said:
“Courage – not complacency – is our need today. For the harsh facts of the matter are that we stand at a turning-point in history. Are we up to the task? Are we equal to the challenge? This is the choice we must make – a choice between determined dedication and creeping mediocrity.”
Ladies and gentlemen, we must not be mediocre in standing up to the challenges that we face in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. We must have the courage to resolutely uphold the rules based international order and protect freedom to shared domains. We must choose the path of multinational cooperation. Indeed, I firmly believe that we are up to task to lead – for having our alliance working together with other like-minded nations will surely take us to a more peaceful and prosperous future.
May God bless each of you. May God bless Japan and the United States, and may He keep our alliance on a path of strength for years to come.
Thank you very much.