Strength of Alliance Highlights Meeting Between Mattis, Japan’s Prime Minister
In a Tokyo meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.- Japanese alliance, Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross said.
Mattis arrived in Japan today from South Korea on his first overseas trip since taking office last month.
In a statement summarizing the meeting, Ross said the secretary noted that this trip emphasizes the priority the new administration places on the Asia-Pacific region and the importance of the long-term U.S. alliance with Japan.
"I wanted my first trip to be here to this region," Mattis said at the start of the meeting. "I want there to be no misunderstanding during this transition in Washington that we stand firmly, 100 percent, shoulder-to-shoulder with you and the Japanese people, Mr. Prime Minister."
Mattis also underscored in the meeting that the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to defend Japan in the face of common threats.
"Due to some of the provocations out of North Korea and other challenges that we jointly face, I want to make certain that Article 5 of our mutual defense treaty is understood to be as real to us today as it was a year ago, five years ago, and as it will be a year and 10 years from now," he said.
The defense secretary also confirmed the long-standing U.S. position on Japan’s territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands: to apply the U.S.-Japan security treaty to all areas under Japanese administration and to continue strong opposition to any unilateral coercive action that seeks to undermine Japan's administrative control of the islands, Ross said in his summary of the meeting. He also thanked Abe for Japan's noteworthy contributions to regional and global security and to the U.S.-Japan alliance, he added.
Mattis thanked Japan for hosting 54,000 U.S. troops and their family members to support the alliance, the spokesman said, as well as for Japan's continued support to U.S. force realignment plans in Japan.
The defense secretary also reaffirmed the alliance's unwavering commitment to the replacement facility for the Marine Corps’ Futenma air station as part of a realignment of U.S. forces on the Japanese island of Okinawa, Ross said.