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Richard L. Armitage Press Conference in Tokyo

Press Conference in Tokyo

Richard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State
US Embassy
Tokyo, Japan
October 13, 2004

U.S. embassy-tokyo press office

14:00 local time

MODERATOR: Good afternoon everyone. We are "on the record" today with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. First, the ground rules. We do have simultaneous translators, so when you come to ask a question, please give your name, your organization, ask one question and ask it in the microphone so that the interpreters can hear it. That said, Deputy Secretary.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Good afternoon. It's kind of fun to see so many friends, and meeting you in Washington a lot, it's a delight for me to be seeing you in Tokyo. I'll tell you what I've been doing for the last couple of days and then I'll do what I'm supposed to do as to try to answer your questions. I arrived two nights ago, and since then I've met with Abe-sensei, and discussed political developments and foreign policy developments in and around Japan. I've engaged in a very extensive strategic dialogue; the Japanese side was chaired by Vice Foreign Minister Yukio Takeuchi. This dialogue has taken on increasing importance as the world has become increasingly complex and Japan's role in the world has become increasingly more pronounced. Given that Japan is our most important ally in this part of the world, it's perfectly appropriate that we have these very in-depth discussions. I also had the honor of meeting with [Senior] Vice Foreign Minister Aisawa at the Foreign Ministry yesterday, and last evening with the Director General of the Boeicho, Ono-sensei. This morning I was able to meet with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda. I also took part in an Iraqi donors' conference. Again, Japan, showing a great leadership role in the world, has stepped up, taken that leadership position, and hosted this follow-up Iraqi donors' conference; a follow-up to the Madrid conference of a year ago, and I must say having heard the presentation of the Iraqi delegation this morning, one can't but be amazed at the courage, the conviction and the clarity of their vision that they've put forward for their country.

I was here because the President, the Secretary of State, were determined that the United States should go and support the Iraq delegation, particularly as the United States has recently moved some of our money from the water and the electricity sectors in Iraq to security, in order to more rapidly stand up security forces -- both police and military in Iraq. I met with Yamazaki Taku. Laterally, today I'll be meeting with the leadership of the LDP, Mr. Takebe, the leadership of the Komei Party. I'll also see Minister Koike and laterally I have a meeting with the Foreign Minister Machimura. I'll stop there and try to handle or answer any questions you may have and look forward to the exchange.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. It's good to see you again. My name is Takahata from the Mainichi Shimbun. My question is concerning the ongoing transformation and the realignment of U.S. forces in the region. There is certain views, even among Japan's foreign ministry, which is seemingly reluctant to accept certain elements of U.S. proposals namely, the transfer of the headquarters of the Army 1st Corps to Camp Zama, because it would go against the Far East Clause in Article 6 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, according to their reading of the treaty language. So, my question is, would you agree to this their reading of Article 6? That's the first question. The second question is, generally it sounds a very good idea to strengthen the Japan-US alliance, but can you explain to us in your usual plain words how you would persuade these people that it would be good for our alliance and also for maintaining peace and stability in the region? Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you, Takahata-san. First of all, I've said publicly that I think that when we began our discussions of transformation, we perhaps began in the wrong spot. We started talking about individual items or individual locations you mentioned, I think, Camp Zama rather than starting from a philosophical discussion of how we, that is Japan and the U.S., saw our alliance, in say, in 15 years or 20 years. If we started there, then I think we could work back and the individual elements of the transformation both our transformation and the Japanese transformation would become clearer.

I noticed yesterday, in the Prime Minister's speech, for the Diet, that he had a very interesting comment about the what I've referred to as the "Araki Report" on defense and security capabilities and that has much to say about transformation, including in the intelligence area here in Tokyo.

The Prime Minister and the President met in New York; had an excellent meeting and the two of them, together, gave us our marching orders. The Prime Minister wanted to accelerate the discussions on transformation and then the President and he further agreed that this had to be done in a way that enhanced our deterrents and that lessened the burden on the people of Japan. Those are our marching orders; they're quite clear and we'll let now the experts decide where, when and how we'll put all those into effect, including Takahata-san, the area you mentioned Camp Zama or any other.

QUESTION: I'm Satoru Suzuki with TV Asahi. Welcome to Japan, again, Mr. Secretary. My question is about how Japan and the United States can exert more pressure on North Korea so that we can make more visible progress in the remaining abduction cases. Recently, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives passed the legislation called the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004. The most important part of the legislation, from our viewpoint, is that if signed by the President, it would call for conditioning non-humanitarian assistance upon the full disclosure of information on the Japanese and South Korean abductees in North Korea and upon their return to their home countries. Now, Mr. Secretary, do you believe that such legislation, if signed by the President, would serve as an effective leveler to powerful stakes against North Korea, and do you support Japan imposing its own economic sanctions against North Korea, as suggested by the family members of the abductees and some political leaders in Tokyo. Finally, how was your meeting with Mr. Taku Yamasaki? How active and how effective do you expect Mr. Yamasaki will be, especially in dealing with North Korea? Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I must say, I believe I counted three questions, but that's ok, Suzuki-san, we know each other quite well. First of all, I think the most effective way to deal with North Korea is a continuation of what we've been doing. That is, make sure that we do our best, Japan and the United States, to keep China well in the game and I believe China is keen for continuing her efforts. Number two, to make sure that the North Koreans will not see us get impatient or nervous; we're steady in the long run; we'll prevail on this and they'll come to know it. Third of all, to make sure that we are very true to our allies in the Republic of Korea and make sure we share fully and completely with them all our thoughts on this.

Moving on to the law that I believe the President will sign into effect. Right from this meeting, I'm going to meet with the families of the abductees. I have done this each time I've come to Japan. I've also met with them in Washington, because both as a member of the world community and the human race, the question and the fate of the abductees concerns us as it does the people of Japan, and moreover as an ally of Japan, we want to do everything we can to support you and your search for the truth on the fates of these abductees. I can't say, and it's not for me to say what Japan should or shouldn't do, in terms of what Japan feels will be most effective. Japan has had some measure of success, as the Prime Minister noted yesterday in his speech in front of the Diet, and has relieved the questions in the minds of at least some family members. But I was very heartened to note in the Diet speech yesterday, Prime Minister Koizumi indicated he'd continue to try to resolve the fates of the remaining Japanese abductees and I think this speaks very, very well of the nation and the leadership of Japan.

Now you know, Mr. Yamazaki, perhaps much better than I, how would you expect him to be? He was very energetic, very full of ideas and I suspect he's going to be a very active player on the scene.

QUESTION: Tim Johnson, Knight Ridder Newspapers. I would like to ask

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Say hello to John Walcott for me.

JOHNSON: I will. I would like for you to delve a little more into the Iraq issue on water and electricity, the amount that the U.S. had to transfer for security and specifically whether you've gotten any commitments yet from other nations and whether they're concerned about the security issue as they implement funding for those sectors?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you. This morning, as I've said, we, the United States, had pledged $18.4 billion in our second supplemental toward Iraq, of which we've spent a total of about $3 billion, but we just requested or petitioned the U.S. Congress for permission to take $3.46 billion and shift it away primarily from the electrical sector and the water sector into security and governance and immediate impact jobs for Iraqis. We believe that shifting the majority of the money into the security area will allow us to stand up the Iraqi forces much more rapidly and bring much more rapid betterment to the security situation of Iraq.

This morning, at the Iraq conference, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Planning both acknowledged that they understood the reasons for this shift. They both asked that the donors step into this void it's not a complete void; we have a lot of other money going into this area but that other donors step up and that was a plea that was echoed by me at the request of our President and the Secretary of State. The Deputy Prime Minister noted, as the Prime Minister had noted a couple of weeks ago in Washington, that there are many provinces of the 18 in Iraq which are absolutely clear and have had no security incidents. As a first step, the delegation from Iraq suggested that perhaps donors would find it easy to start projects in those areas in which there has been no security problems, and the Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged that there were 9 or 10 of them that were, in their view, completely free. I have no doubt that many of those who pledged monies at Madrid a year ago are looking for sectors in which to put those pledges and I think the electrical and water area are two areas which will find great favor internationally.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Steve Herman from Voice of America. Bit of a follow-up on the last question there. As you mentioned, the United States has pledged $18.4 billion dollars, but according to a State Department report last week, only about $1.2 billion has actually made it into the pipeline. What's the holdup and what are you doing to get more of that money to the Iraqis?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Actually, that report to which you accurately refer, has been changed now to be about $1.4 billion, because we are moving out a little more rapidly with dispersements of money. We took, I think, longer than was necessary to get our act together prior to turning over sovereignty and hence June 28th, when we turned over sovereignty to the Interim Iraqi Government, we had dispersed only 400 million dollars. Today, I was able to report to the conference that in the last three months, we've been able to usefully and correctly push out the dollar about a billion more in dispersements and I'm looking, and have publicly told the U.S. Congress, for an average of about 400 million dollars a month being dispersed from the U.S. supplemental. We're going to do this by: one, hiring many more Iraqi firms, because that will have the dual benefit of increasingly employment; two, we've engaged U.S. Ambassador Bill Taylor, who previously ran the reconstruction program for me in Afghanistan. He's now in, actually he's in Tokyo today, but he'll be back in Baghdad in a couple of days to run this program. And, I have no doubt that we'll correct the errors that we made before the slowness that's a better way to say it and really start pushing the money out the door.

QUESTION: Thank you very much Mr. Boyle. Mr. Armitage, my name is Shogo Kawakita with the Japanese news wire service, Kyodo News. I have a question on Iraq. Following the deteriorated situation on the ground, some European allies are now thinking more seriously about their exit strategies. You know, the Dutch troops are going to leave next March, and the Polish will follow after them. By contrast, the Japanese government is now thinking, mulling, to extend the period of the deployment of the Japanese troops now stationed in Samawah in southern Iraq. My question is how would you appreciate the plan of the extension, and do you think that the Japanese troops could do more beyond the current activities. Finally, how long would you expect the Japanese troops to stay on the ground? Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The United States Government, and certainly me personally, could not more highly evaluate the presence of the Japanese forces, the Jieitai, at Samawah, and note that their humanitarian activities there have gained the favor of the population and I think stand as a sort of a signal or a landmark to other countries who want to involve themselves in humanitarian activities. The Government of Japan dispatched these Jieitai forces because they were supporting, or because of the fact that Saddam Hussein had violated consecutive UN Security Council resolutions. We think this was appropriate. As to how long the Jieitai should stay, that's a governmental decision. We would hope that the government could extend the length of time in Samawah. We think that we're going to be on a winning path with this Iraqi government. We're going to stand firm for elections in January. We're standing up security forces so that security will be better in Iraq. Finally, as to how long the Jieitai will stay, or for that matter, how long American forces will stay, I'm unable to answer and I think it would be foolish to try to give a date certain. We don't want to stay, speaking for Americans, in a military way, in Iraq one day longer than is necessary. I think that most Iraqis, including the Iraqi leadership, doesn't want us to stay any longer than is necessary. They want to provide for their own security, and our job is to give them every opportunity to do it.

QUESTION: Anthony Rowley, Singapore Business Times. Mr. Secretary, Japan has long identified North Korea as a potential threat to its security, but more recently there have been references to China's military buildup in various official documents. To what extent does the United States align itself with this view that China might at some point represent a threat to the region, or particularly to Japan, and to what extent might that possibly influence the strategic deployment of forces in the future? Finally, if I could also ask you whether any discussion of possible changes to the Japanese Constitution in this context have entered into your discussion.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think its fair to say that the U.S. and Japan both share the view that a "rising" China is inevitable, and we want to do everything we can to make sure that the rising China is a very benign, helpful, energetic player on the world stage. It is undeniable that this rising China has a huge energy appetite, a huge appetite for natural resources, so these are matters that we want to watch closely and discuss closely with our Japanese friends. As to the future of China --will China be an enemy -- I don't think that Japan wants that; I don't think China wants it; and we certainly don't want it. The world is complex enough without imagining enemies out there. On the question of strategic deployment of forces, we will I think you were referring to our forces, Sir in Asia we will, first of all, always have sufficient force to live up to our security responsibilities under our mutual security treaty with Japan. That's first and foremost enough forces for the defense of Japan. We will also be able to protect our interests when we find our interests are threatened or violated, and that's going to require a different type of U.S. force, one that's if you'll allow me to borrow from that old Alabama football coach Bear Bryant is mobile, hostile and agile that is quicker and faster and more formidable in terms of the military clout. Finally, on the question of revision of the Japanese Constitution, it has not come up in my discussions. I think our Japanese interlocutors, whether Diet members or members of the bureaucracy, understand fully our view that this is a decision that has to be decided solely and completely by the Japanese alone. It's not a decision that can be taken by another country, nor should be taken by another country. Finally, I would note that that report, the "Araki Report" to which I referred earlier, also commented on the question of the Constitution and didn't pronounce itself one way or the other, just said a discussion, as I recall, a discussion on this matter should be held, by Japanese, not by Americans or anyone else.

QUESTION: Jessica Smith, Market Place Radio. Going back to the question of donor funds and disbursements, is there a concern among donor countries, potential donor countries, of corruption and misuse of funds, and how much of a problem is that in getting people to donate? Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: After the problem of security in Iraq, I think fear of corruption is the second largest problem. In fact, Deputy Prime Minister Barhem Saleh this morning in the donor's conference addressed this, and he said, "Look we're just beginning. We've started anew after thirty years of corruption and incompetence." You can't expect it to go away overnight, but they've already put inspector generals in the different ministries. They're serious about rooting it out, and that's a pretty good basis on which to start, but it is a real concern.

QUESTION: My name is Yokota with Nikkei. I want to ask about Iraq. I guess that a few weeks ago Secretary Powell admitted that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating. Do you still believe that the election would be held on schedule in January, and would be on a nation wide scale? Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We believe that along with the government of Iraq that elections have to be held by the end of January. This is the course on which we embarked and it's one that we won't waver from. Of course, elections have to be nation-wide, you can't hold elections in two-thirds or four-fifths of the country. We wouldn't hold an election without California, or without Texas, and I don't think that the people of Iraq should be expected to hold an election without having all citizens of Iraq having the opportunity to cast a vote. Now the trick here is obviously to enfranchise and empower, if you will, primarily the Sunnis in the so-called Baathist Triangle make them confident that they will have a part in the future of the new Iraq, and that's going to take some doing, but the government of Iraq certainly understands it, the coalition certainly understands its, and some of the tribal elders, the notables, the tribal sheiks in the so-called Baathist Triangle understand it. Our job is to make sure they all understand it and believe it.

QUESTION: My name is Ogata from Kyodo News. One quick question about Iran. Can you explain to us where this issue of the nuclear issue stands right now? To my knowledge, I think the G-8 will hold a meeting, I think, Friday in Washington, and would you just explain to us where it stands and whether the U.S. is planning some sort of concession? Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: You're very well informed. The political directors will indeed meet in Washington on Friday. I'm going to go back to make sure I can meet with them as well, and they will be discussing a paper that our European friends primarily have drafted on their ideas of a way forward. I think several things have happened over the last several months. First of all, we're very happy with the efforts of the EU-3 the Foreign Ministers of Germany, Great Britain and of France as they try to bring the Iranian government to a better position, a better understanding of the need to be transparent in their nuclear program. Unfortunately, the very hard work of those three has gone a bit, has been wasted a bit, because the Iranians have made a different decision. They have made a decision, apparently, to hide, to continue to hide their program, and indeed to add to that they've made some very scurrilous statements publicly. We hold the view that Iran needs to be brought to account, and we would like to move to the UN Security Council after the November Board of Governor's Meeting, but we're open to all ideas that people have, because one thing has become clear and that is that we all share, in the G-8, the same end, desire, and that is that Iran should be free of nuclear weapons, and be transparent and let the international community have sufficient confidence that that is the case. So, that's a good basis on which to move forward, but we'll wait until Friday to see what our friends come up with.

QUESTION: Akiko Yamamoto of the Washington Post. We've been seeing reports about how there's an increasing number of refugees, North Korean refugees, into China, as well as reports about how the Chinese military is building its forces along its border with North Korea. Have you been seeing that trend and, if so, do you think that indicates any kind of political movement against the Korean Kim Jong Il regime?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I wouldn't have called it a trend. I did see some movement of Chinese forces up around the border with North Korea. I would say right now that it looks like it may be part of an exercise, or something of that nature, but I think it's a little too soon to say it's a trend. There has been an increased activity by North Korean army units to keep refugees from crossing into China, and I think Chinese security personnel to keep refugees out as well. But, that situation although the number of refugees has increased in recent years, I don't think its turned into a flood of yet, and I can't say what it means, what it says about what's going on in Pyongyang.

QUESTION: James Simms with Dow Jones. Just one quick question on the U.S.-Japan joint missile defense research. I was wondering is the lifting of the Japanese arms embargo necessary for the U.S. to go ahead with the deployment of the sea-based anti-missile defense system?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: You're talking about

SIMMS: The SM3.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: the three principles of banning exports of military equipment?

SIMMS: Right.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you. It's been a long time since I've answered questions about export principles in Japan. The last time was in 1983, when we had I think our last change, in Japan, about the ability to export certain items to the United States. I noted again in the "Araki Report," that I called to your attention, what they say about these principles. They think there should be some change, but again it's not absolutely necessary for Japan to change those to cooperate with the United States. The point in the "Araki Report" is that it might be beneficial to Japan, and also to the United States, if we could have this exchange of technology fully, but it's not absolutely necessary -- which I think was the burden of your question.

SIMMS: Oh no, I mean in terms of the impact on the deployment of the missiles that are going to be used on the new system, that's being explored and developed with Japanese companies.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: And the point; we are able to do that.

SIMMS: The technology transfers (inaudible).

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: On that issue, we've had that ability since 1983, so that's not a question. This is more a broad question of the export of military equipment and technologies that are covered by the so-called "Three Principles," I believe they're called "banning exports."

QUESTION: Thank you for another opportunity. Given the crash of the helicopter near Futenma in Okinawa, at this moment, how seriously are you concerned about the safety of the people in Okinawa, especially those living near Futenma Airbase? It's been 8 years since the SACO agreement was reached. What, in your view, will have to happen before we relocate that airbase, which is called "the most dangerous one in the world," to other places? As your proceed with the transformation of the U.S. military worldwide, isn't it the right time to revisit the SACO agreement and look for some other options like relocating it to Guam or somewhere else outside Okinawa?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: You know very well that I've both spoken and written both in public life and private life about Futenma. As the area built up around it, it got so crowded and every day I was frightened. I think, as most of my colleagues in the military were, worried that some accident might ensue and some harm might come to some Japanese life. The CH-53 incident, I followed very closely. I was heartened if your will that no lives were lost, first of all, but secondly that the cause of the accident didn't appear to be something that's systemic in the CH-53, but rather turned out to be a maintenance problem, a screw on a rotor, which was not, apparently, properly tightened down, if that's the technical term I can use.

I'm pleased that our joint committee is setting up better procedures in order to handle something like this, should it ever happen again. Having said that, we want to relocate out of Futenma, that's why we agreed several years ago. We had a great difficulty in coming up with an alternative site. I can't gainsay my colleagues in the Department of Defense who are handling these matters, nor can I say whether the SACO process should be redone. At the time, you and others were writing about what a great victory it was, and I felt it was a victory. It is a road map out there. Perhaps we ought to not do away with it, but accelerate it in lines with the whole transformation discussion, and I'm sure that's what our Japanese colleagues here are doing when they talk to my Department of Defense colleagues.

QUESTION: Just getting back to Iraqi debt, Mr. Secretary. Vice President Cheney recently said that other nations have agreed to forgive debt to the tune of 80 billion dollars. I'm just wondering if the donor's conference or the State Department, if their numbers jibe with that number?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The former Secretary of State Jim Baker, who was sent by President Bush around to the major creditors of Iraq, and each and every one agreed to significant reductions of the debt. Now "significant" to the United States is 95%. I would not say that all of our colleagues signed up to that. The United States, however, has taken 360 million dollars, and we will apply it to the Iraqi debt and it will buy down slightly over 4 billion dollars of Iraqi debt. The IMF, the World Bank, have done a study on the Iraqi debt. It's 125 billion dollars. Eliminating that debt won't guarantee the success of Iraq, but without it, there is no ability for Iraq to be successful. And so, we are using all of our political persuasion, as well as our own money--witness the buy down of the 4 billion dollars worth of debt to demonstrate to the international community the worthiness of being a very generous forgiver of Iraqi debt. The fact of the matter is people are not able to get paid now anyway in an Iraq that's mired in 125 billion dollars worth of debt. It is our view, shared by some in the international community, that the way to go is to forgive the majority of the debt, but I'm not going to, I can't myself name a specific figure. But if you figure, by the way, that 125 billion dollars is the debt, and that the major creditors have agreed to significant reductions, even half of that would be 60-odd billion dollars, so I'm sure that the vice president has done his sums correctly.

QUESTION: Taro Karasaki Herald-Asahi. Totally different subject regarding trafficking. The State Department in June in its report named Japan a "second-tier country," on the watch list. Since then, the Japanese government, or the Ministry of Justice, has announced that it is going to be revising its criminal code to deal with trafficking. I was wondering if these measures would be considered sufficient to perhaps upgrade Japan next year.

DEPUTY SECRETARY DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I thank you very much for the question about trafficking in persons. I've never been asked it in Japan. I think it speaks very well of Japan's interest on the issue that you bring it up. You're right, Japan is put on tier-two I believe tier-two/watch. The United States, by the way, if we judged ourselves, would be on tier two just for the record. We are very heartened by the decision of the Government of Japan to strengthen the law surrounding trafficking in persons, and this seems perfectly in line with this great democracy, and I have no doubt myself that next year when the TIP, or the Trafficking in Persons Report, comes out that Japan will be in a better place on that list than they are today.

MODERATOR: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. [End]

Released on October 13, 2004


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