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The Kantei
Tokyo, Japan

12:23 P.M. JST

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  (As interpreted.)  I would wholeheartedly like to welcome Vice President Pence on his third trip to Japan.  Japan is the only country which is honored with such frequent visit by Vice President.

Vice President Pence and I will visit Singapore to participate in the East Asia Summit and other meetings.  After that, we will together go to the APEC Leaders Meeting in Papua New Guinea.

The strong bond of Japan-U.S. alliance is evident in the fact that I was able to elaborate and align our policies with Vice President Pence before we go to the summit where the leaders of the region are assembled.

Historic U.S.-North Korean summit was held in June, which brought the situation surrounding North Korea into an important phase.

Today, Vice President Pence and I, two of us alone, spent a good amount of time discussing North Korea, and agreed in our recognition that we need to keep working on the full implementation of Security Council resolutions toward the complete denuclearization of Korean Peninsula.  With respect to ship-to-ship transfer of goods, which is banned by the Security Council resolution, we confirmed that we continue our close cooperation between Japan and the U.S.

In North Korea, there are abundant resources and hardworking people.  Once the issues are resolved, they can envision a bright future for themselves.  And that possibility is predicated on the solution of issues for which Japan and the U.S. will continue to lead.  In particular, we reaffirmed our close collaboration for the early solution of the abduction issue, which is of the highest priority for Japan.

For bringing into reality the vision, a free and open Indo-Pacific — where all nations, large and small, can join and prosper — we welcome the steady progress of Japan-U.S. cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, energy, and digital field.

We also reaffirmed further enhancement of our continued leadership and cooperation, while collaborating with Australia, India, ASEAN nations, among others.

On China, I explained the outcome of my trip to China last month.  We agreed in our recognition that it is of importance for Japan and the U.S. to continue our close collaboration in conducting constructive dialogue with China.

On the economy, we reaffirmed to realize the economic development of a free and open Indo-Pacific that is based upon fair rules, while expanding further trade and investment between Japan and the United States so that such development be beneficial to us both, in line with the Japan-U.S. Joint Statement agreed in September.

At the East Asia Summit and APEC Leaders Meeting, in close collaboration with Vice President Pence, Japan and U.S. will jointly lead the discussion and contribute in building peace and prosperity of the region.

Thank you very much.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Thank you, Prime Minister Abe, for those kind words and for the warm hospitality that you’ve shown to Karen and me.  This is our third visit to Japan since I became Vice President.  And it is my great honor to be with you today to reflect the remarkable bond that exists between our two nations.

And I’m here today on behalf of a friend of yours and a great champion of the U.S.-Japan alliance, President Donald Trump.  I know the President is very much looking forward to seeing you at the upcoming meeting of the G20 in Argentina, but he did ask me to convey his warmest regards and respects to you.

And let me once again convey to you our congratulations on your reelection in September.  Your reelection sets the stage for a renewed partnership between our two nations on the basis of a relationship that has perhaps never been stronger thanks to your leadership and the leadership of President Trump.

The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, so it’s altogether fitting that the first stop on our seven-day trip across the region would begin here in Japan.

The United States’ commitment to the Indo-Pacific is steadfast and enduring.  Our nation’s security and prosperity depend on this vital region, and the United States will continue to ensure that all nations, large and small, can thrive and prosper.

Later today, our delegation will depart to Singapore, to participate in the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit.  From there, we will travel to Australia and Papua New Guinea, hosting this year’s APEC Leaders Meeting.  And it will be my honor to attend those events with you, Mr. Prime Minister.

President Trump attended these gatherings last year to lay out the United States’ vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.  And this week, it will be my great privilege to discuss our progress in making this vision a reality.

In all that we do, the United States seeks collaboration, not control.  We seek an Indo-Pacific where every nation, from the shores of the Indian Ocean to the West Coast of the Americas, east to west, north to south, are free to follow their own path, pursue their own interests, and where the seas and skies are open to all engaged in peaceful activity; where sovereign nations grow stronger together.  Authoritarianism and aggression have no place in the Indo-Pacific.  And I know this vision is shared by the United States and Japan.

By its very definition, a free and open Indo-Pacific is one that cannot be imposed.  It must be built, nation by nation, through strong partnerships.  In that respect, the time-honored bond between the United States and Japan is a model for nations across the Indo-Pacific and the world.

Japan is an indispensable trading partner for the United States.  All told, our two-way trade is a stunning $285 billion.  The United States is Japan’s top foreign direct investor, employing over 350,000 people here.  And last year, Japan invested almost $44 billion in the United States, for a total of nearly half a trillion dollars that support nearly a million American jobs.  And, Mr. Prime Minister, we are grateful for Japan’s renewed investment in America.

But as you’ve discussed with President Trump on many occasions, the United States has had a trade imbalance with Japan for too long, and American products and services too often face barriers to compete fairly in Japanese markets.

It’s for that reason that we welcome the steps that have been taken to address these issues over the past two years, beginning with the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue.  But the best opportunity for free, fair, and reciprocal trade will come in a bilateral trade agreement.  And, Mr. Prime Minister, we welcome the decision that you and President Trump reached in September, to begin negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement.

Those negotiations will begin soon.  And when completed, we’re confident that this agreement will establish terms on goods, as well as on other key areas, including services.  And just as with our alliance, the coming U.S.-Japan trade agreement will be a model for the Indo-Pacific.

Today, our nations are issuing a joint statement between the United States and Japan that covers a range of activities on energy, infrastructure, digital connectivity across the region.  In addition, the United States and Japan will sign a memorandum of cooperation to promote clean, safe, and affordable civil nuclear power in both our countries.

To advance our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, our nations are also bringing the expertise of our businesses to bear on the region’s most pressing needs.

For our part, the United States has more than doubled our ability to support private development projects in emerging economies.  My nation now offers $60 billion in development financing, and infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific will be a priority for the United States of America.

We’re also grateful, Mr. Prime Minister, that Japan has targeted $10 billion in investment by public and private organizations to promising energy infrastructure projects.  And the United States looks forward to working closely with Japan to identify the most promising projects in the region.

Also, the United States, Japan, and Australia have committed to work together to encourage renewed private investments in infrastructure projects.  Through enhanced cooperation on development financing, we will help build up the immense Indo-Pacific together.

Mr. Prime Minister, while prosperity is paramount, as we discussed today, we both recognize that our economic progress hinges on our security.

Our countries have been allies now for nearly 70 years, and at this very moment, some 54,000 members of the Armed Forces of the United States are currently stationed in Japan as a testament to our ongoing commitment to our common defense.  We’ve also stationed some of our most advanced military capabilities in this country, from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

As President Trump has made clear to you on numerous occasions, Mr. Prime Minister, we also are encouraged to see Japan making an even greater investment in our shared security. And the United States strongly supports your efforts to expand the scope of Japan’s self-defense.

To that end, last year, President Trump made a commitment to you to speed up the sales of defense technology to Japan, and we’re keeping that promise.  Before the end of this year, we will deliver ten F-35s to Japan, and six more in 2019.

Our nations also recently held a 10-day trilateral naval exercise with our Indian counterparts.  And, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for all you’ve done to preserve the freedom of the seas and skies across this region.

Our nations have stood strong, and stood together, against those who would threaten our vision of freedom and openness in this region, beginning with what has been the decades-old threat of North Korea.

Mr. Prime Minister, let me once again thank Japan for your close cooperation with the United States on our North Korea strategy.

Japan has literally stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States in the pressure campaigns from the very beginning.  And you personally have played a pivotal role in policing illegal maritime shipments with Japan’s naval operations.  Our joint actions, together with South Korea and the wider world, have brought North Korea to the negotiating table and opened the promise of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

President Trump believes his relationship with Chairman Kim is good.  And since their historic summit in Singapore in June we’ve made good progress on the agreement that’s reached.  But more work remains.

As we speak, another summit is being arranged, but the President has made it clear that the time for implementing the agreement is not a driving factor.  And as I assured you, Mr. Prime Minister, the pressure campaign will continue, and the sanctions will remain in full force, until we achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea.  The United States, Japan, and the world will accept nothing less.

Mr. Prime Minister, I also want to thank you for updating me on your recent trip to Beijing and your meeting with President Xi.  President Trump will meet with President Xi at the upcoming summit in Argentina.

As you know, the United States seeks a relationship with China that’s based on fairness, reciprocity, and respect for sovereignty.  The difficulties that the United States and other nations face with China have been well documented by our administration, and China knows where we stand.

Nevertheless, President Trump is looking forward to his meeting with President Xi in Argentina.  He believes that progress could be made, but either way, we’re confident that the United States remains in a strong position.  And, Mr. Prime Minister, you can be assured that our commitment to Japan and to the region will remain unchanged.  And we are grateful for your support.

The United States-Japan alliance is a shining example of the bonds we seek to forge across the Indo-Pacific.  We’ve achieved extraordinary things together, far more than earlier generations might have ever imagined.  But President Trump and I know you, Mr. Prime Minister, and believe that the best is yet to come.

America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific has never been stronger, and the actions and investments that we announced today demonstrate our resolve.  We will continue to ensure that all nations, large and small, can thrive and prosper in a free and open Indo-Pacific.

And so, today, Mr. Prime Minister, I just want to thank you and all the Japanese people, on behalf of our President and the people of America.  We are allies, yes, but more than that, we’re friends.  We have an abiding friendship that is grounded in the ideals of freedom and democracy.

And with your leadership in Japan, and the leadership of President Trump in the United States, with the friendship of our two peoples, and with God’s help, I know we will continue to advance the prosperity and security of both of our countries, and together we will forge a brighter future across the Indo-Pacific.

So thank you for hosting me.  God bless Japan and God bless the United States of America.


12:39 P.M. JST