Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper hosted Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono in Guam on Saturday, where they reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance and discussed ways to deepen and expand bilateral defense cooperation.
Secretary Esper and Minister Kono exchanged views on their shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The Secretary expressed serious concern regarding Beijing’s decision to impose a national security law in Hong Kong, as well as coercive and destabilizing actions vis-à-vis Taiwan. Both Ministers restated their commitment to maintain a rules-based order in the East and South China Seas, and more broadly in the region and world. The Secretary welcomed Japan’s efforts to strengthen cooperation with other likeminded partners, including members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), India, Australia, and trilaterally with the United States and the Republic of Korea.
Secretary Esper reiterated the U.S. commitment to the full implementation of President Trump and Chairman Kim’s Joint Statement at the 2018 Singapore Summit, which includes the complete elimination of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, their means of production, and their means of delivery. Secretary Esper thanked Japan for its strong leadership in implementing United Nations Security Council Resolutions sanctions to disrupt North Korea’s illicit ship-to-ship transfers, and for hosting multinational forces that support this effort.
Secretary Esper and Minister Kono agreed to continue efforts to support interoperability and to enhance Alliance capabilities, particularly for integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) and for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) functions. They also agreed on the importance of secure networks and of strengthening information security to protect advanced defense technologies.
The Ministers committed to work together closely to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and to cooperate in providing assistance in response. They reaffirmed their commitment to the realignment plan to move U.S. forces from Okinawa to Guam and other initiatives, including construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility. The Secretary noted the importance of Japan’s steps towards completing the purchase of Mageshima to support field carrier landing practice. Secretary Esper and Minister Kono recognized the importance of local community engagement in ensuring stable stationing of U.S. forces in Japan. Secretary Esper further committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety for all U.S. personnel, while emphasizing the necessity of training to maintain readiness.
(Readout from the Department of Defense)