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The Prime Minister’s Residence
Tokyo, Japan

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASO:  (As interpreted.)  I’m delighted to welcome to Vice President Pence to Japan in April when some cherry blossoms are still remaining.  Perhaps it reminded you of the big celebration of the Cherry Blossom Festival, which was held in Washington last month.  So I hope you can still have some good impression about the cherry blossom.

Vice President Pence in his governor days in the state of Indiana visited Japan many times over and attracted many Japanese businesses to Indiana.  He had really always worked very hard to strength Japan-U.S. relationship.  Very soon after my visit to the United States where I had a very useful meeting with our dear, longstanding friend of Japan in February, I am very proud to say today that the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue was kicked off, opening up a new page for our bilateral relations.

I feel very proud about it.  Security and economy are two wheels supporting Japan-U.S. alliance for the stability of the Asian Pacific region, economic prosperity is indispensable.  At the dialogue today, from the perspective of further deepening win-win economic relations between Japan and the United States, Vice President Pence and I were able to have a good discussion.
Going forward in the dialogue we concurred to discuss three pillars, namely common strategy on trade and investment rule and issues; cooperation in economic and structural policy area; sectoral cooperation.  Those three pillars will be discussed.

As for the common strategy for trade and investment rules and issues, at the Japan-U.S. summit meeting held a while ago, two leaders confirmed that they are fully committed to strengthening economic relationship bilaterally, as well as in the region based on the free and fair trade rules.
And based on this common recognition, Japan and U.S. relationship will further be strengthened.  And under our bilateral leadership we will build high-level trade and investment standards and spread that to the Asian Pacific region, that is free and fair trade rules.

To rectify unfair trading practices in the region, Japan and the United States agree to further our mutual cooperation.  Being mindful of WTO’s dispute settlement procedures, Japan will push for Japan-U.S. authorities to work ever more closely, including the minister of foreign affairs dispute settlement section, as well as general counsel office, which was newly formed within METI.

On the cooperation on economic and structural policy area, Japan and the U.S. will actively use three-pronged approach of fiscal monetary and structural policy agreed at G7.  And we’ll discuss the ways to lead a balanced and strong growth.  Views will be exchanged on international economic and financial developments, and we’ll work closely.

On sectoral cooperation, infrastructure such as high-speed rail and energy various themes where Japan-U.S. could cooperate will be taken up.  And Japan-U.S. economic relationship will be deepened, a multi-faceted front along with these three pillars, Japan-U.S. economic relations will leap forward significantly.  And Japan and U.S. together will lead strongly economic growth of the Asian Pacific region, as well as the rest of the world.

Also Vice President Pence and I agreed to hold the second economic dialogue meeting by the end of this year at a mutually convenient time.

To further deepen Japan-U.S. win-win economic relations and to build a new history of our bilateral relations going forward, Vice President Pence and I will continue to have constructive dialogue.  As far as looking at the Japan-U.S. relationship, we started with a friction, but for the very first time, no longer it’s a friction.  But it’s based on the cooperation now.  This is a very important juncture where we are opening a new page.

Thank you so much.

Vice President Pence, please.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Konnichiwa and hello.  To Deputy Prime Minister Aso, thank you.  Thank you for your great hospitality and your friendship and the kindness that you’ve shown us in the effort that begins today.

I thank you for your tireless work to strengthen the bond between your nation and mine.  It is an honor to be back in Japan.  On my very first visit to the Asian Pacific as Vice President of the United States, I had to come to Japan.

I bring greetings from the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  And earlier today on the President’s behalf, I had the honor to meet with Prime Minister Abe to reaffirm the abiding friendship and the enduring alliance between Japan and the United States.
The United States-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace, prosperity, and freedom in the Asia Pacific.  And under President Trump, America is committed to strengthening our alliance and deepening our friendship for the benefit of our people and for the benefit of the world.
Already our bond is growing stronger.  Prime Minister Abe was one of the very first world leaders who President Trump hosted at the White House.  They continued their meeting at the Southern White House, and I can attest personally that they have forged a good, personal relationship which is already benefitting both of our nations.

Their relationship truly demonstrates the extraordinary respect that President Trump has for our critically important ally Japan.  Today as we have for more than half a century, the United States and Japan stand united in defense of democracy and the rule of law, not only in this region, but all across the world.

Tomorrow I will speak from the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan at Yokosuka Naval Base, a tangible sign of our unity with Japan and the United States’ unyielding commitment to peace and security in the Asia Pacific.

Under President Trump, the United States will continue to work with Japan and with all our allies in the region, including South Korea to confront the most ominous threat posing this region of the world, the regime in North Korea.  And let me be clear, our commitment is unwavering and our resolve could not be stronger.

As President Trump told Prime Minister Abe at the Southern White House so I say on his behalf today to all the people of Japan, in these challenging times, we are with you 100 percent.
In the face of provocations across the Sea of Japan, the people of this country should know that we stand with you in the defense of your security and prosperity now and always.  Now the United States will continue to work with Japan, our allies across the region, and China to bring economic and diplomatic pressure to bear until North Korea abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  But all options are on the table.

Nevertheless, President Trump and I have great confidence that together with Japan and our allies in the region, we will protect the peace and security of this part of the world and achieve our shared goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Now security is the foundation of our prosperity.  But promoting prosperity is actually the main reason that I had the privilege of meeting today with your deputy prime minister.  At the direction of President Trump and Prime Minister Abe, today Deputy Prime Minister Aso and I have the great privilege to formally launch the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue.

This dialogue presents the United States and Japan with an opportunity to deepen our bilateral economic ties and to foster jobs, prosperity, and growth on both sides of the Atlantic [sic].  We’re building on a strong foundation.  But as the Prime Minister said, our economies have been intertwined for generations, and this is a new day and a new chapter in relations between the United States and Japan.

Every day, though, our nations already exchange goods and services that improve people’s lives and help businesses on both sides of the Pacific succeed.  Japan is the United States’ fourth largest goods trading partner and our fourth largest goods export market.  And Japan is one of America’s leading investors.  Japanese foreign direct investment in the United States now totals more than $400 billion, the second-most of any nation.

I saw that firsthand back in my old job when I was governor of Indiana, how trade and investment between our countries can be beneficial to us all.  In 2013 and again in 2015, I led a group of Indiana businesses and community leaders here to Japan to foster closer economic ties, create jobs, and spur opportunity and growth.

Today the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue seeks the very same objectives for both of our countries in full.  It signifies President Trump’s commitment to strengthening our economic relationship with Japan using a bilateral approach.

Today’s meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Aso was an opportunity for us to broadly discuss how we view the dialogue structure and goals.  The Prime Minister and I agreed that the dialogue will focus on three key policy pillars, as he just discussed.  The first is a “common strategy on trade and investment rules and issues.”  Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States seeks stronger and more balanced bilateral trade relationships with every country, including Japan.  Our goal is simple:  We seek trade that is free and we seek trade that is fair.

This requires breaking down barriers, leveling the playing field so that American companies and exporters can enjoy high levels of market access.

The second pillar involves economic and structural policies with a specific focus on fiscal and monetary issues.  President Trump believes that both the United States and Japan can enact pro-growth and fiscally sustainable monetary and budgetary policies, a key to both of our long-term economic success.

The final pillar is what we call sectoral cooperation.  The President and I are confident that we can find new ways to expand our economic ties with Japan in different sectors and different industries.  American and Japanese businesses have much to offer each other.  By working together, we can ensure that our two nations’ economic leadership grows even stronger in the years ahead to the benefit of all of our people.

This is an important day for the partnership between the United States and Japan, and I’m deeply humbled to be a part of it.  The U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue will provide us with a new forum to address the economic issues that are crucial to our long-term success.  The relevant U.S. agencies — the Department of Commerce, the Department of Treasury, and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office will lead discussions for each of these three pillars, focusing on concrete economic results in the near term and reporting back to my office.

The Deputy Prime Minister and I look forward to receiving input on the progress and accomplishment from these agencies over the coming months, and we have agreed to meet again by the end of the year to discuss the progress in each area.

President Trump and I are confident that working with Prime Minister Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Aso, we will open a new chapter of opportunity and agreement for both our people.
The President is working tirelessly to create forward momentum to deepen our bilateral economic partnership with Japan.  And today’s announcement is a reflection of that.  President Trump and I are grateful that Prime Minister Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Aso share our goal of a mutually beneficial economic relationship, and we look forward to working with them through the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue to achieve our vision of an equal partnership that creates jobs and prosperity and growth in the United States and in Japan on an equal basis.
We have before us a historic opportunity, and today I say with confidence based on our first discussions we will seize this opportunity.  We will take this moment to strengthen the ties of commerce and friendship that exist between our people.  And I believe we will usher in a new era of prosperity for ourselves and for future generations.

There is a closeness between our people that is best described with a Japanese word, and it does not have a corollary in the English language.  But I learned it a while ago.  As governor of Indiana, I had the opportunity to understand and appreciate the more than 250 Japanese companies that had decided to make Indiana home.  The word is kizuna, and it is a reflection of a close relationship — a relationship of understanding and of mutual respect.  And I can’t help but feel today that we’re renewing that relationship on that foundation as we initiate this important U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue.

So thank you again, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, for hosting me here today.  I look forward to this work with great anticipation.

Q    (As interpreted.)  I have both questions to Mr. Aso and Vice President Pence.  Trump administration declared they would withdraw from TPP.  And within Japan great attention is drawn to what is going to be the U.S. trade policy going forward.  Mr. Lighthizer, USTR nominee, said that in the agricultural area trading and negotiation Japan will be the first to target.  So what will be the trade negotiation going forward between Japan and U.S.?  What is the outlook?  Are you looking for concluding Japan-U.S. FTA in the end?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASO:  Thank you, now can I answer your question first?
Well, at the Economic Dialogue this time as the common strategy on trade and investment rules and issues, free and fair rule-based trade and investment is an indispensable value and action principle for realizing the growth and prosperity not only for Japan and the United States but for the rest of the global economy, as well.

And on this course, once again Vice President Pence and I were able to confirm this.  And based on that, having a good understanding about the situations underway in the Asian Pacific, it’s important that Japan-U.S. should lead the rulemaking process in the region.  I think it’s very important, and we’ve been discussing that concretely — not only to strengthen trade and investment flow bilaterally, but also Japan-U.S. can play pivotal role in spreading high-level, fair rules over Asia and the Pacific region.

We like to strengthen economic aspect of Japan-U.S. alliance, and we’ve been discussing that.
And looking at the Japan-U.S. economic relationship, it used to be described as being an economic fiction.  We started with the word fiction.  And fiction used to be the symbol of our bilateral relationship, but no longer.  We are now in the era of cooperation between our two countries.

It’s not a matter of which sides say what to the other side.  From the big picture and strategic point of view, we would like to seek the best shape and forum of bilateral framework and define its significance and have a good constructive discussion.  And I think we were able to mark a first step toward that.

Thank you.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Well, thank you for your comments, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister.
And in response to the question let me say with great respect to those who worked on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the past, the TPP is a thing of the past for the United States of America.  The Trump administration has made a decision and taken steps to formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and that will be our policy going forward.

But today I think gives evidence to the fact that the United States of America is determined to reach out to our partners here in the Asian Pacific and around the world to at least begin to explore the possibility of expanded economic opportunities, including trade, on a bilateral basis.

President Trump truly does believe that it’s in the interests of the United States of America to negotiate trade agreements on a bilateral basis.  That creates a framework within which countries can better assess whether the deal itself is — what we call a win-win arrangement.
But today I think what the Deputy Prime Minister has said so eloquently is that today we’re beginning a process of an economic dialogue, the end of which may result in bilateral trade negotiations in the future.

But we’re beginning that conversation today, beginning to identify areas that we can enhance and strengthen the economic interaction between our two nations.  And at some point in the future, there may be a decision made between our nations to take what we have learned in this dialogue and commence formal negotiations for a free-trade agreement.

But I’ll leave that to the future, but tell you that these discussions are very much a reflection of the President’s view that negotiating at arms’ length on a bilateral basis with nations is the best path forward for the United States, the best path forward for the nations with whom we enter into such agreements, and I think in the days ahead you’ll continue to see the United States work on a bilateral basis with countries around the world to expand jobs and opportunity for our people and the prosperity of the world at large.

Q    Thank you very much.  Vice President Pence, you’ve said that the United States will increase diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea.  Today we heard Prime Minister Abe say that while he agrees with that, and we shouldn’t have dialogue for dialogue’s sake, Japan also places paramount importance on the need to seek a diplomatic effort to achieve a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

My question is:  What exactly must North Korea do?  What are the conditions for beginning that dialogue?  And what form should that dialogue take?

And for Deputy Prime Minister Aso, President Trump during his campaign often called on Japan to share more of the burden for common defense and pay more for U.S. security presence here in Japan.  What specifically is Japan prepared to do to respond to President Trump’s call?

(Speaks Japanese.)

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Thank you, Josh.  Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has been the longstanding policy of the United States of America, of South Korea, of Japan, of China, and it’s been the longstanding policy of nations across the world.

For more than a generation, we’ve seen the very failure of dialogue writ large.  First we remember the agreed framework of the 1990s, then we remember the six-party talks.  And with good-faith efforts by nations around the world again and again, North Korea met those efforts and resolution with broken promises and more provocations.

That’s why we’ve said the era of strategic patience is over.  And President Trump has made it very clear:  The policy of the United States of America will be to reach out to our allies in the region here in Japan where I just had a productive conversation with Prime Minister Abe on this topic.  Yesterday, in South Korea, where I met with officials in the National Assembly and acting President Hwang.

President Trump recently met with President Xi, and the President of China reaffirmed China’s commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.  It is our belief that by bringing together the family of nations with diplomatic and economic pressure, we have a chance — we have a chance — to achieve our objective of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Now all options are on the table, and there they will remain.  But President Trump and I and our administration believes the most productive pathway forward is dialogue among the family of nations that can isolate and pressure North Korea into abandoning permanently and dismantling its nuclear weapons program and its ballistic missile program.

As Prime Minister Abe said today in our brief conversation, dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless.  It is necessary for us to exercise pressure, and the United States of America believes the time has come for the international community to use both diplomatic and economic pressure to bring North Korea to a place that it has avoided successfully now for more than a generation.  And we will not rest and we will not relent until we achieve the objective of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASO:  Washington Post, my English hearing is still good enough.  But if I may say in Japanese.

(As interpreted.)  Well, economic dialogue, TPP — whether the TPP can be made as a foundation for a dialogue going forward, is that what you said?

Sorry.  Then my English hearing is absolutely wrong.  Would you mind repeating the question again?

Q    Minister Aso, President Trump during his campaign often called on Japan to share more of the burden for common defense and pay more money for U.S. security presence here in Japan.  What is Japan willing to do to respond to President Trump’s calls for a better deal for the United States in the U.S.-Japan security relationship?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASO:  I think I got a picture.  Response in Japanese is okay, right?
(As interpreted.)  Now, responding to your question, let’s look at Japanese defense.  Just the other day — Mr. James Mattis, Defense Secretary, came to Japan, at which occasion I had an opportunity to talk with him.

At least look at Okinawa’s host nation’s support — host nation’s support came up as a topic.  And he said that Japan is behaving like a textbook case — 75 percent is paid to the Okinawa host nation; ROK — 40 percent; 30 percent Germany; and 20 percent Italy.  That is a burden share.  And I think whole picture was understood by General Mattis.

And also just lately when the Abe Cabinet was formed, look at the defense expenditure — how it is being allocated.  The navy is the crucial area where more budget allocation has been done, followed by air and the land.  And I think this is the most appropriate allocation of the defense budget.

So at least — ever since inclusive by General Mattis and other military personnel of the United States with regard to the Japanese defense or discontent, at least no message has been given to us from the United States as far as I know.  So we will continue to make mutual effort and try to share the information as much as possible going forward, and particularly look at the East China Sea and Korean Peninsula and Sea of Japan.  Certain fictions might arise.  So information exchange is particularly important — intelligence sharing and the information sharing has to continue in appropriate manner most of all because of the situation we are in.