“The security relationships the United States enjoys in [the Asia-Pacific] region have been essential to economic growth and stability for the last 60 years,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told the press during his recent visit to Japan. “The U.S.-Japan Alliance and mutual defense treaty has been the cornerstone for tremendous progress.”
“The United States…welcomes Japan’s efforts to play a more proactive role,” Secretary Hagel said. “We support expanding the role of the Japan Self Defense Forces within the framework of the Alliance, investing in cutting-edge capabilities, improving interoperability, modernizing force structure, and adapting Alliance roles and missions to meet contemporary and future security realities.”
Before arriving in Japan, Secretary Hagel hosted a meeting of defense ministers of the 10 countries that make up ASEAN - the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“The [meeting of] ASEAN defense ministers was an important first step…because it represented the initial effort…as we continue to collaborate, coordinate, and strengthen our relationships in the Asia-Pacific,” he said.
In response to a question about recent provocative actions on the East and South China Seas, Secretary Hagel made clear that the Senkakus are administered by Japan and fall within the scope of Article V of the U.S.-Japan security treaty. “We oppose any act by any nation to intimidate or coerce others with respect to territorial claims,” he said.
“China and Japan are the world’s second- and third-largest economies and have a shared interest in a stable environment to facilitate economic prosperity,” Secretary Hagel continued. “Neither of these two important countries, nor the global economy, can afford confrontation and crisis. The United States will continue to encourage both nations to work to find a peaceful resolution to these disputes.”
“We will remain the Pacific power we have always been ...We will uphold our security commitments in the region,” Secretary Hagel said in conclusion. “And we will continue to...help underpin the stability and the prosperity for which the people of the Asia-Pacific…have labored so hard to produce.”