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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright,
Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, and Japanese Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga
Joint Press Availability following the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee Meeting
New York, New York, September 20, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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Joint U.S.-Japan Statement by the Security Consultative Committee

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. Secretary Cohen and I are very pleased to welcome Foreign Minister Komura and State Minister for Defense Nukaga to New York. Today's session of the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee, better known as the "two-plus-two," is one of a series of high-level meetings we will have this week, including President Clinton's summit with Prime Minister Obuchi on Tuesday.

During these meetings, we will discuss the full range of political and economic challenges our nations face together. Today, our talks concentrated on security and regional issues.

We reaffirmed the firm friendship and unshakable alliance between our two nations. That alliance is the cornerstone of our strategic policy in Asia. It is essential to stability in the Asia-Pacific; and, I am pleased to report, it is in excellent shape.

Ours is a dynamic and flexible partnership, as it must be given the vital stake we have in Asian security. Today we discussed a number of the regional concerns our two countries share -- foremost among them the recent activities of North Korea.

Neither of our nations is under any illusions about the Government in Pyongyang or the potential threat it poses to peace and stability in the region. We agree, and we have let the North Koreans know in no uncertain terms, that the August 31 launch was a dangerous development. Japan, whose territory was overflown with no advance warning, has particularly strong and legitimate concerns.

However, our engagement with North Korea through the Agreed Framework remains central to our ability to press for restraint on missiles and for answers to our questions about suspicious underground construction activities and other matters. We must keep the heat on Pyongyang by meeting our commitments to fund the Agreed Framework and KEDO, even as we press North Korea's leaders to meet theirs.

We also reviewed the steps the United States and Japan have taken in the past few years to keep our alliance robust and ready for the challenges of the century ahead. And we will continue implementing the forward-looking guidelines for US-Japan defense cooperation, which we adopted at last year's two-plus-two.

Secretary Cohen and I reaffirmed America's commitment to be good neighbors to the Japanese communities that host our forces. In that connection, we agreed on the importance of fully implementing the final report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa as soon as possible.

The United States and Japan will remain close partners on a host of regional and global issues in the months and years ahead. Indeed, few of the challenges we face in Asia and the world could be met if we did not continue to work and act together.

Let me close by saying that it was a great pleasure to begin my week at the UN by meeting the new security team of an old and close ally; and let me turn the microphone over to Foreign Minister Komura.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOMURA: Thank you, Madame Secretary. It was a great pleasure to hold a Security Consultative Committee meeting today, to have frank consultations and exchange of views in our bilateral security relationship, as well as on developments in the Asia-Pacific region.

As in the situation surrounding North Korea, there remain uncertainties and instabilities in the Asia-Pacific region. We reviewed such regional situations and discussed security policies regarding this region.

Based on such discussions, the four of us reaffirmed that the credibility of Japan-US security arrangements remains firm. Our two countries will spare no efforts to further enhance our bilateral security arrangements on a basis of the Japan-US joint declaration on security.

The recent North Korean missile launch has a direct bearing on Japan's security and raises serious concerns about the peace and stability in Northeast Asia as well. We confirmed that we will call on North Korea, through a variety of means, not to launch, develop, deploy or export missiles.

(Inaudible) for enhancing our bilateral security relationship, we intend to continue close cooperation with the United States on ballistic missile defense, or the so-called "BMD." We will also keep working to ensure the effectiveness of the guidelines for Japan-US defense cooperation.

With regard to issues related to the stationing of US forces in Japan, including those issues involving Okinawa, I believe it is important for the US forces and their host communities to build good neighborly relations. For this purpose, the two sides must exert sincere and tenacious efforts on specific issues. Further cooperation to this end by American colleagues will be most appreciated.

We'll also continue our efforts for steady implementation of the SACO -- or the Special Action Committee on Okinawa -- for the final report.

Having had today's meeting with Secretary Albright and Secretary Cohen within a short span of one month since our last meeting in Washington, D.C., in August, I keenly feel the significance of maintaining exchange of views and quality consultations between Cabinet ministers of our two countries, and I shall keep up close communication and cooperation with the distinguished Secretaries.

SECRETARY COHEN: As Secretary Albright has said, the security relationship between the United States and Japan has never been stronger. That relationship, along with the continued forward deployment of roughly 100,000 of American troops in Asia is the foundation for stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

At today's talks, we discussed the challenges posed by North Korea's launch of a Taepo Dong I missile. We discussed the urgent need to work together to develop a ballistic missile defense system to counter future threats.

No one should doubt our commitment to defend our interests and to work together for peace and stability in Asia, and this is the best way to protect both the United States and Japan.

We reviewed progress to implement fully the defense guidelines, again, as Secretary Albright has mentioned, and the commitments of both of our governments to maintain good neighbor relations between our forces in Japan and with the Japanese people.

I look forward to continuing our talks with Minister Nukaga in Washington tomorrow and again in Tokyo in November.

Thank you.

MINISTER NUKAGA: In the area of security, Japan and the United States are faced with numerous challenges that they need to address with continued close coordination. It, therefore, is most gratifying that we were able to have this meeting of the Security Consultative Committee with Secretary of Defense Cohen and Secretary of State Albright, Foreign Minister Komura, and to show within and without our two countries will respond to these challenges hand-in-hand, building on the solid foundation of the Japan-US alliance. The Japan-US security system or security arrangements will continue to play an important role for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.

As stated by Foreign Minister Komura, the agenda, and allow me therefore to simply comment on the situation surrounding North Korea and BMD.

Japan and the United States confirmed our common view that the recent North Korean missile launch was a matter of great concern for the security of Japan and the United States, as well as East Asia. We also deem it significant that we were able to confirm that we shall continue to watch with great concerns the behavior of North Korea as symbolized by the missile launch; and that Japan and the United States need to respond as necessary through mutual cooperation. This, I believe, was most significant not just for Japan, but for Northeast Asia and the region as a whole.

As transfers and proliferation of ballistic missiles, among others, as conducted by North Korea, has posed great challenge to Japan's defense policy, and in view of the significance of ballistic missile defense, we should like to work towards the implementation -- in the direction of research related to the system.

We shall address seriously these tasks, including BMD, and further promote close security ties between Japan and the United States.

Thank you.

QUESTION: This is a question to the Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State. In today's two-plus-two it seems like the support of KEDO has been -- (inaudible). Regarding the Japanese counter-measures to North Korea, regarding the freezing of the funding for the construction of the light water reactor, when will that be lifted? And also, regarding the lifting of that freeze, are you contemplating any conditions like some apology from North Korea?

And for the Secretary, it seems like under this certain situation, how do you intend to cope with this situation with North Korea along with Japan? And also regarding what Japan is thinking about the apology and the explanation about the present launching, how do you intend to convey the Japanese view to North Korea?

Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOMURA: As you mentioned in your question, the framework of KEDO itself is, I believe, the best method for preventing a nuclear development by North Korea. On this score, Japan and the United States see eye-to-eye.

At the same time, the US side has shown understanding with Japan concerning its position on its implementation. What is Japan's position? Well, the North Korean missile launch, we believe, was done -- or overflew Japan without any advance warning, advance notification. Against that background, we cannot implement the KEDO agreement as if there was no missile launch. That will only give a misleading signal to the North Koreans. That is Japan's position.

Now, you referred to apologies by North Korea, et cetera. We did not necessarily make it an absolute condition. But under what conditions would the KEDO agreement be implemented? That is a point that Japan, together with the United States and Korea, will need to engage in close consultations.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, let me say that we all of us -- agreed on the seriousness of the Korean missile launch, and have made quite clear to them -- to the North Koreans -- in a number of ways that this poses a difficult and dangerous situation, and are going to be involved in talks about how to deal with it.

I think that we also all agreed about the importance of pursuing the Agreed Framework. All I have to do is to remind everybody about what things looked like in 1993, when we were concerned about the fact that the North Koreans were going to renounce their membership in the NPT. We believe we achieved a very good agreement with them on the Agreed Framework to get them to freeze the nuclear materials.

It is essential that we live up to our side of the contract and that they live up to their side. But let me just say again that none of us disagreed on the problems caused by this missile.

QUESTION: Prime Minister Obuchi, in an interview with Western reporters that was published today, made some comments about the Japanese economy and the fact that he thought that Japan had, in fact, done all it could do in order to revive its economy and get it out of the crisis it's been in. Are you satisfied with those words, particularly as you look forward to a meeting between the President and the Prime Minister? Has Japan gone far enough?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that we believe, in the recent legislation, that Japan has taken an important step. Obviously, what will be important is how it is implemented. There are other aspects of an economic program that we would like to have take place. President Clinton and Prime Minister Obuchi will be discussing that during their summit.

We have had a chance in other meetings -- Foreign Minister Komura and I -- in our various phone conversations to discuss this issue. So I think they have taken an important step; implementation is important, and obviously it is not the whole story.

QUESTION: A question to Minister Nukaga and Secretary Cohen. This concerns BMD. It is that you have agreed to continue towards the direction of cooperative research. Regarding the cooperative research, what would be the specific undertaking there? And until you go into actual development stage, how long will that take?

The next question is mainly to Secretary Cohen. The experiment on the part of the United States is not quite successful, and I'd like to hear how you feel about this situation. And also, from the development stage to the deployment, it requires quite a large expense. In relation to how to cope with this expenditure, I'd like to know how you intend to cope with the funding.

Thank you.

MINISTER NUKAGA: Allow me to respond first. Between Japan and the United States, for the past several years we've been engaged in overall joint studies regarding ballistic missile defense. Today in our two-plus-two meeting, we reviewed the progress of those joint studies conducted so far. As a result, we decided to engage in work in the direction of cooperative research.

This is not a position or a decision to engage in cooperative research. But in view of the significance of BMD, we shall indicate this direction of implementing cooperative research and engage in the necessary work for internal coordination within the Japanese Government to that effect.

Now, in the process of cooperative research, we shall need to look at the technical feasibility, et cetera. Therefore, at this stage we are not in a position to answer how long the development work itself will take.

SECRETARY COHEN: I agree with the statement that was just made by the Minister. We are not in a position to give any definitive time line in terms of when research and development can be completed and then the procurement of a system and the deployment of it.

We have a number of theater missile defense systems under intensive research and development -- as many as five or more. We will continue to intensify that research and development; and this agreement between the United States and Japan to share in that research and development will hopefully expedite the programs.

It's important to remember why Secretary Albright continues to stress the need to meet with the North Korean delegations to insist that they comply with their agreements, and why it's important for all of us to try to use our good offices to persuade other countries not to continue to proliferate either missile technology or weapons of mass destruction.

The North Koreans have been able to take advantage of other countries transferring certain technology that will allow them to develop their newer missiles. So we think it's important that all countries understand that with greater and greater missile proliferation, it will put more and more countries at risk.

That's why we're going to intensify our own diplomatic initiatives to control the spread of missile technology, but also to develop the theater missile defense systems and the ballistic missile defense systems that will be critical for all of our countries.

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Komura, it sounds as if you're saying that while Japan supports the agreed framework and KEDO, you are not going to fund the $1 billion that you had agreed to fund. First of all, is this correct? And would you consider -- do you think there's a point in the future when the Japanese Government might reconsider, might change its mind and put forward the funding it had agreed to do?

For Secretary Albright, if, in fact, the Japanese Government does not put up the $1 billion, how will the agreed framework work? Will the United States then put in the $1 billion that the Japanese Government had, or how will you make this work?

Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOMURA: I think that question is more or less in line with the first question I answered. Since we do support the agreed framework, it is not that we will not into the future refuse to put up funds; but the reality is that North Korea did launch the missile and that launch was done without any advance notification or warning and the missile overflew the Japanese islands -- a matter which has a serious bearing on Japan's security and also a threat to the peace and stability of Northeast Asia. Also, it causes a problem in terms of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Against that background, we cannot go ahead with the contribution of $1 billion as if this missile launch had not taken place at all. That will only send a wrong message to the North Koreans -- the wrong message that they will, with impunity, do almost anything at any time.

The Japanese Government position is that we should not allow the North Koreans to take the message that way. That is why this time we are saying that if we are to make contributions, then through close consultations between Japan and South Korea we will consider under which specific conditions Japan will provide such funding.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The question you asked me is mooted in some way by the answer Foreign Minister Komura just gave you. But let me make quite clear the following point, as I also responded to in the first question.

We also take the North Korean missile launch very seriously and consider it a dangerous way of moving forward and have made that very clear to the North Koreans, and will continue to do so.

We believe that it is not a solution to the missile issue not to live up to the KEDO -- to all our contribution to that and to the agreed framework; because the agreed framework is an essential part of how we deal with the various threats and problems posed by North Korea. We will continue to cooperate and discuss the issue.

We are going to be having a trilateral meeting with the South Koreans, Japanese and ourselves -- I've lost track -- Tuesday or one day soon this week -- so that we can discuss this issue and how it all relates to us and to our relationship on this and how to make absolutely sure that the three of us are cooperating to deal with what we consider a serious problem.

As both Secretary Cohen and I have now said several times, we think that it is a contract and both sides need to live up to their parts of it; and only, again, to recall 1993, where we had great concerns. I was here at the UN; we were talking about sanctions resolutions and various very difficult problems. I think we have an opportunity here to make sure that the agreed framework that serves a very important purpose continues to be maintained.

Thank you.

[End of Document]

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