The following is the gist of the joint news conference held after the 2+2 meeting of the Japanese and U.S. ministers of foreign affairs and defense:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: North Korea’s launch of missiles is totally unacceptable. We will bolster the capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance to counter this threat to regional security. We will apply diplomatic and economic pressure to work for the discontinuation of North Korea’s development of nuclear arms and ballistic missiles. We will remain vigilant against North Korea’s threat through our military preparedness. We will respond to threats to Japan’s security without reservation. We declare that Article 5 of Japan-U.S. Security Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands. We also oppose China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono: We agreed to strengthen effective pressure on North Korea for its denuclearization. We ask China to take concrete steps to make North Korea change its course of action. We were able to define the future course of the Japan-U.S. alliance amid the increasingly harsh security environment. Japan will provide a total of $500 million over three years for capacity building in maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis: The U.S. remains firmly committed to the defense of Japan with the full range of its military capabilities under Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and through extended deterrence. Japan is at the forefront of North Korea’s threats. The DPRK needs to end its provocations. It has to discontinue its threats and intimidation. These are not in North Korea’s interest nor in the interest of all other nations.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera: In light of North Korea’s threats, we confirmed the importance of the unwavering commitment of the U.S.’s extended deterrence. We will embark on serious efforts to review the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and to draw up the next Mid-Term Defense Program. With regard to the flight of the U.S. Marines’ Ospreys, we reiterated our request to give consideration to the local communities and to ensure safety.
Q: Will you opt for a military solution to the North Korea issue?
Tillerson: We would like to avoid such an option, but if North Korea makes a wrong decision, we are militarily prepared. We will employ diplomatic means first.