Secretary Gates' Speech at Keio University

By The Pentagon, The Pentagon - January 14, 2011

                   MODERATOR:  Good morning ladies and gentlemen.  My name is Masayuki Tadokoro, professor of international relations teaching at this university.  Today I have the honor of moderating this session.  

                It is indeed a great pleasure and honor and a privilege to welcome Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to this campus this morning.  It is very well known that the job of secretary of defense of the United States of America is a very heavy responsibility and very demanding job.  According to the website of DOD, which I consulted with yesterday, over the last four years, Secretary Gates has flown nearly 600,000 miles, visited 104 countries, spent 244 days for travel and spent 1,373 hours in the air.  

                These figures clearly demonstrate how extremely difficult for him to find a time slot for addressing students here and how extremely lucky we are to see him taking trouble to address our students.  Therefore, I do not want to waste time by making a lengthy introduction of him.  

                I just want to say a few words.  He is a native of Kansas and he earned first degree in the College William and Mary and master degree from Indiana University in history and Ph.D. in Soviet studies from Georgetown University.  He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 where he spent nearly 27 years in the intelligence profession.  He finally rose to the director of the agency in 1991.  He became secretary of defense in 2006 -- yes, 2006.  That is under the previous administration.  He was appointed by President George Bush and was asked to remain in his office even by the newly elected president, current President Obama, which I understand is rather unusual in American history. 

                Now, I think the -- I just want to say a few words about the organization of this session.  After we listen to the secretary's -- Secretary Gates' address for I expect 15, 20 minutes, we are hoping that we will have still some time left for a few questions and answers.  I encourage the students to ask questions.  Questions can be asked either in Japanese or in English as there is very effective-efficient simultaneous translations are being provided.  However, I ask questions to be concise, to the point and related to security issues.  

                Now, without -- and also, he has to leave at 9:40 at the latest, therefore we have to be very precise in time.  Now, without further ado, may I invite Secretary Gates to the podium?  

                Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Secretary Gates.  (Applause.)  

                SEC. GATES:  Thank you for that kind introduction and thank you to Keio University for all the work you have put into hosting this event"“ in particular Professor Seike and Professor Kokubun. 

                As a former university president, I always look forward to visiting the academy and hearing from students.  One large similarity between my current responsibilities as U.S. defense secretary and my previous job as president of Texas A&M University is that in both instances I have been responsible for the well-being of large numbers of college-aged men and women.  It is a responsibility I have taken very seriously and continue to take serious today, especially with so much at stake for our young men and women in uniform and for our country. 

                This is my third visit to Japan as secretary of defense and my fourth trip to Asia over the past eight months.  It is a privilege to be the latest in a series of U.S. senior leaders who have visited Japan over the past 12 months, including President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, Treasury Secretary Geithner, Commerce Secretary Locke, and Energy Secretary Chu.   

                This past year, we marked the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, as well as the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese diplomatic mission to the United States.  Notably, one of the younger members of that first Japanese delegation was Fukuzawa Yukichi, the founder of this university.  As you know, Fukuzawa drew on his experience and subsequent visits to the United States to become Japan's preeminent expert on the institutions and values of American democracy, and to shape this great institution of learning. 

                Writing more than a century ago, Fukuzawa saw extraordinary promise in the future bilateral relationship between Japan and the United States.  This promise was tragically interrupted by war, but fulfilled 50 years ago when our two nations forged a partnership that has fostered stability, prosperity, and growing political freedom in Asia for most of the last half century.  

                Ours is an alliance based not just on economic and military necessity, but on shared values with respect to how governments should treat their own people and deal with other nations in the conduct of international affairs; a belief in democratic ideals and the pursuit of peace and prosperity through international norms and organizations, rather than through militarism and coercion. 

                I think it is important to remember those basic truths, indeed the wide, deep and rich array of values and interests that bind our two countries together, especially since news headlines about our alliance are often dominated by difficult issues such as host nation support, the Futenma relocation, and funding for Guam.  

                So what I'd like to do this morning, before taking your questions, is to provide some strategic context to the U.S.-Japan defense partnership. 

                First, I want to discuss the complex array of regional security challenges we face together, and the benefits of addressing those challenges between and among nations of shared interests.  And second, I want to explain the ways the U.S.-Japan defense relationship -- partnership must adapt to meet those challenges, to include modernizing the alliance's military capabilities and basing arrangements. 

                Over the course of its history, the U.S.-Japan alliance has succeeded at its original core purpose: to deter military aggression and provide an umbrella of security under which Japan -- and the region -- can prosper.  Today, our alliance is growing deeper and broader as we address a range of security challenges in Asia.  Some, like North Korea, piracy or natural disasters, have been around for decades, centuries, or since the beginning of time.  Others, such as global terrorist networks, cyberattacks, and nuclear proliferation are of more recent vintage.  What these issues have in common is that they all require multiple nations working together, and they also almost always require leadership and involvement by key regional players such as the U.S. and Japan.  

                In turn, we express our shared values by increasing our alliance's capacity to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief, take part in peacekeeping operations, protect the global commons, and promote cooperation and build trust through strengthening regional institutions. 

                Everyone gathered here knows the crippling devastation that can be caused by natural disasters, and the U.S. and Japan, along with our partners in the region, recognize that responding to these crises is a security imperative.  In recent years, U.S. and Japanese forces delivered aid to remote earthquake-stricken regions in Indonesia, and U.S. aircraft based in Japan helped deliver assistance to typhoon victims in Burma.  We worked together in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, earthquakes in Java, Sumatra, and Haiti, and most recently following the floods in Pakistan.  These efforts have demonstrated the forward deployment of U.S. forces on Japan is of real and life-saving value.  They also provide new opportunities for the U.S. and Japanese forces to operate together by conducting joint exercises and missions. 

                Furthermore, U.S. and Japanese troops have also been working on the global stage to confront the threat of failed or failing states.  Japanese peacekeepers have operated around the world, including the Golan Heights and East Timor and assisted with reconstruction in Iraq.  In Afghanistan, Japan represents the second largest financial donor, making substantive contributions to the international effort by funding salaries of the Afghan National Police and helping the Afghan government integrate former insurgents.   

                Furthermore, Japan and the United States also continue to cooperate closely to ensure the maritime commons are safe and secure for commercial traffic.  Our maritime forces work hand-in-glove in the Western Pacific as well as in other vital sea passages such as the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, where more than a third of the world's oil and trade shipments pass through every year.  Around the Horn of Africa, Japan has deployed surface ships and patrol aircraft that operate alongside those from all over the world, drawn by the common goal to counter piracy in vital sea lanes. 

                Participating in these activities thrusts Japan's military into a relatively new and at times sensitive role as an exporter of security.  This is a far cry from the situation of even two decades ago when, as I remember well as a senior national security official, Japan was criticized for so-called checkbook diplomacy -- sending money but not troops -- to help the anti-Saddam coalition during the First Gulf War. 

                By showing more willingness to send self-defense forces abroad under international auspices -- consistent with your constitution -- Japan is taking its rightful place alongside the world's other great democracies.  That is part of the rationale for Japan's becoming a permanent member of a reformed United Nations Security Council. 

                And since these challenges cannot be tackled through bilateral action alone, we must use the strong U.S.-Japanese partnership as a platform to do more to strengthen multilateral institutions -- regional arrangements that must be inclusive, transparent, and focused on results.  

                Just a few months ago, I attended the historic first meeting of the ASEAN Plus Eight Defense Ministers Meeting in Hanoi, and I'm encouraged by Japan's decision to co-chair the Military Medicine Working Group.  And as a proud Pacific nation, the United States will take over the chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum this year, following Japan's successful tenure.  

                Working through regional and international forums puts our alliance in the best position to confront some of Asia's toughest security challenges.  As we've been reminded once again in recent weeks, none has proved to be more vexing and enduring than North Korea.  

                Despite the hopes and best efforts of the South Korean government, the U.S. and our allies and the international community, the character and priorities of the North Korean regime sadly have not changed.  North Korea's ability to launch another conventional ground invasion is much degraded from even a decade ago, but in other respects it has grown more lethal and more destabilizing.  

                Today, it is North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and the proliferation of nuclear know-how and ballistic missile equipment that have focused our attention, developments that threaten not just the peninsula, but the Pacific Rim and international stability as well. 

                In response to a series of provocations -- the most recent being the sinking of the Cheonan and North Korea's lethal shelling of a South Korean island -- Japan has stood shoulder to shoulder with the Republic of Korea and the United States.  Our three countries continue to deepen our ties through the Defense Trilateral Talks, the kind of multilateral engagement among America's long-standing allies that the U.S. would like to see strengthened and expanded over time. 

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