Remarks to the Press by Vice President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan

By:  Joe Biden, Jr.
Date: Dec. 3, 2013
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) I am very much delighted to welcome Vice President Biden here in Japan after meeting in Singapore in July. We had discussion in a candid manner over various matters of interest between the United States and Japan an issues surrounding this region.

First and foremost, Vice President Biden and I confirmed that the United States and Japan alliance will continue to play a pivotal role for peace and stability of this region.

Then we discussed announcement of establishing East China Sea air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, by China and confirmed that we should not tolerate the attempt by China to change status quo unilaterally by force, and we will continue to work closely in dealing with the situation based on strong U.S.-Japan alliance.

Above all, we reaffirmed that policies and measures, including those on operation of the self-defense forces and U.S. forces will not change, and that we will meet in close cooperation. We further agreed that we will not condone any action that could threaten safety of civilian aircraft.

Then I explained that the government of Japan will work on construction over time of a replacement facility in a resolute manner, given its extreme importance in advancing cooperation based on alliance.

On TPP, I stated that at the final phase of negotiation, political solution has to be sought on difficult issues for participating countries. I explained farther that Japan and the United States need to solve major pending issues through cooperation, and then should show a path toward conclusion of negotiation within this year.

We also affirmed that U.S.-Japan cooperation is not confined to this region, but rather is expanding in diversified sectors throughout the world, such as cooperation in Southeast Asia, support to Middle East, support for women, health care among others. And we will continue to work together in those areas.

I look to continue our discussion over dinner reception after this on various topics as a testament of Japan-U.S. cooperation relationship.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your hospitality and for the great discussion. We had good meetings in Singapore, and you had a great meeting with President Obama. And I was present, and it's good to see you again.

We meet at a moment, Mr. Prime Minister, when a new Asia Pacific is emerging with limitless potential, but also new dynamics, rising tensions and the risk of miscalculation.

And just as we have for more than six decades, the United States looks to our alliance with Japan as the cornerstone of stability and security in East Asia, and we are fully committed to our announced strategy of rebalancing as well in the Pacific.

The Prime Minister and I also discussed how to make an already very strong alliance even stronger, how to modernize it to meet the challenges and opportunities of this new century.

The President and I are determined, the United States is determined to implement our roadmap to relocate the base for Futenma as quickly as possible. As we discussed in some length the strengthening of the U.S.-Japanese alliance, it's also important to see closer cooperation and better relations between our allies -- Japan and South Korea -- and as was discussed briefly between our allies and China.

I told the Prime Minister in the larger bilateral meeting, as well as of our private meeting that I witnessed firsthand, and we appreciate greatly the outreach he has made to Japan's neighbors. It's in not only Japan's interest, but it's in our interest as well.

Of course, as the Prime Minister mentioned our alliance extends far beyond Northeast Asia. It's a global platform to act on values and interests that we share. And today we talked about new global commitments. The new initiative to support disaster relief and recovery, training in Southeast Asia, building on the work that we've done together in the Philippines to respond to the deadly typhoon, stronger cooperation on maritime security throughout the Asia Pacific; and new U.S.-Japanese development dialogue to help communities from the Lower Mekong to Sub Saharan Africa.

And lastly and consequentially, an $800 million contribution from Japan, unlocking an additional $400 million from the United States to combat the worldwide spread of infectious diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

We have no ally in closer collaboration with us on the many challenges facing us in the Middle East, whether it's the issue of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, supporting the Palestinian economy, which Japan is doing and has done, or responding to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. In each of these matters and many more, Japan is making significant contributions to global security. And we thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for those efforts. They benefit us all.

Today, as the Prime Minister mentioned, we discussed China's sudden announcement of a new air defense identification zone. We, the United States, are deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea. This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation. We are closely consulting with our allies on this matter, here in Japan and in Korea, and I will -- which I will soon visit later this week.

The world should not forget that our alliances have been critical for the stability that has made this region's remarkable progress possible. And I told the Prime Minister that we will remain steadfast in our alliance commitments.

The United States has an interest in the lowering of tensions in this vital region, as I believe all the countries of Northeast Asia share that same interest with us.

This underscores the need for crisis management mechanisms and effective channels of communication between China and Japan to reduce the risk of escalation.

I'll be raising these concerns with great specificity directly when I meet with Chinese leadership the day after tomorrow.

Mr. Prime Minister, if you'll forgive a personal reference, my father had an expression. He said, the only conflict that is worse than one that is intended is one that is unintended. The prospect for miscalculation mistake is too high.

We also spoke at length about our economic relationships. We're in the final stages of negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership that would link together a dozen economies from Singapore to Peru, 40 percent of the world's GDP.

To state the obvious, for the countries involved, the decisions and the compromises that need to be made are very sensitive and very difficult. The upsides of getting such an agreement done are almost beyond comprehension. They're incredibly positive for all countries involved.

But the reward does not diminish the realization of how difficult the compromises needed are -- needed to be made are. We need a comprehensive agreement that involves longstanding differences between the United States and Japan, including issues like agriculture and automobiles. And it's difficult.

The TTP will increase trade and investment, help our businesses create jobs and put in place a powerful constituency for open markets, for a rules-based competition and for higher standards for labor, the environment, and intellectual property protection.

Unlike the bulk of the 20th century, the 21st century is a global economy. And we need to establish new economic rules of the road that allow our countries to prosper together.

And finally, as we discussed, beyond our alliance, our military alliance, our economic cooperation, our global cooperation, it is ultimately based on the people-to-people ties that are the lifeblood of this alliance. It rests on commitment to democracy, shared values and a genuine respect for one another.

I visited Japan not long after the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami. I witnessed firsthand the devastation, the neighborhoods that have been destroyed. But I also witnessed something else -- the rebuilding and the indomitable spirit of the Japanese people. It was truly impressive.

In my capacity as United States senator and Vice President, I visited many disaster areas around the world over the past three decades. But I've never seen the kind of response that I saw here. It was an absolute worldwide advertisement of the character and the spirit and the culture of the Japanese people. No one complained. Everyone got back up. They all continued to move forward, it was remarkable. And it is remarkable.

Mr. Prime Minister, I'm not sure there is a more resilient nation on Earth than yours. I was proud that we were able to play a small part to help save lives -- not only with U.S. troops, but with American volunteers who know and love Japan; many of whom are still here rebuilding.

As a consequence, Mr. Prime Minister, we've created an initiative named after the Japanese word for friendship that is going to bring together young Japanese and young American leaders.

Mr. President [sic], it's not only our alliance, it's the friendship between our countries and our people. It's tried and it's true. It's been tested by time and tragedy, and it still grows stronger to the benefit of both our countries, the region and I would suggest to the world.

Thank you, Mr. President. I'm looking forward to dinner. (Laughter.)