U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper met with Japan's Defense Minister Kono Taro in Bangkok, Thailand on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (Plus).
Both leaders reaffirmed that the U.S.-Japan Alliance remains the cornerstone for peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and discussed ongoing efforts to strengthen the Alliance to meet the dynamic challenges of today’s security environment.
Esper and Kono recommitted to maintaining a free and open region and a rules based order in the East and South China Sea, and more broadly in the region and world.
Esper reiterated the U.S. commitment to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and complete abandonment of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
Both Ministers agreed on the need to develop a regional security network of likeminded partners. Secretary Esper welcomed Japan’s efforts to strengthen cooperation and improve interoperability with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, India, Australia, and trilaterally with the United States and the Republic of Korea.
Esper welcomed the ongoing close cooperation with Japan to operationalize the National Defense Strategy and Japan’s National Defense Program Guidelines in order to strengthen Alliance capabilities, improve deterrence and response options, and remain competitive in a constantly changing security environment.
Esper and Kono discussed ways to streamline the Foreign Military Sales process and agreed on the importance of strengthening information security practices to protect advanced defense technologies.
The Ministers committed to work together closely to implement U.S. forces realignment initiatives. Esper and Kono affirmed the importance of sustaining the operational readiness of U.S. forces in Japan. Both Ministers recognized the vital role that local community understanding and cooperation play in ensuring stable stationing of U.S. forces in Japan, and Secretary Esper committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety for all U.S. personnel.