U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos Statement to the Media at the U.S. Embassy

October 19, 2012
Tokyo, Japan

Let me start by thanking all of you for taking for taking the time to be here today. 

At the outset, let me say that the United States-Japan relationship is of vital – and let me repeat, vital – importance to both of our countries.  The friendship between our people, and the security alliance that has been built up over the past fifty-plus years, is something that my government and my country value deeply.  We have no stronger friend or partner in the world than Japan, and I, as well as so many others, work every day – and will continue to work every day – to make sure that this partnership remains strong and successful.

A critical element of our bilateral relationship is the trust that has been established between our two people.  This trust has been built up over decades – by Japanese living, studying, and working in America, and becoming part of their American communities.  It has been built up by American students coming to Japan to learn more about this amazing country; by young teachers bringing their skills and enthusiasm to cities and towns all across Japan; by American businesspeople working side-by-side with Japanese businesspeople on a daily basis; and by the American men and women who wear the uniform of our armed forces, who are stationed here in Japan and who are charged with the defense of the country and keeping the region peaceful and secure for us all.  All of these Americans have an important responsibility to create and sustain a relationship of trust.

When that trust is damaged, it is a loss for us all.  That is why I wanted to speak to you here today.  It is an understatement to say that the recent reports of serious misconduct by two United States servicemembers in Okinawa are of great concern to me and to my entire government.  Both here in Japan and in Washington, American officials at the highest levels are taking these reports with the utmost seriousness.  Over the past two days, I have met with Japanese officials here in Tokyo, including Minister Morimoto of the Ministry of Defense, Minister Kira of the Foreign Ministry, and Governor Nakaima of Okinawa, and I told them in no uncertain terms that the United States would cooperate in every way possible with the Japanese authorities to address this terrible situation.  I told them that we would work our hearts out to merit the trust of the people of Okinawa and the people of Japan as a whole.

If I may, let me repeat something I said a few days ago at the Foreign Ministry.   On a personal level, I would like to reiterate this message to the Okinawan people and to the people of Japan as a whole:  I understand the anger that many people feel with respect to this reported incident.  I wouldn’t be honest with you if I didn’t tell you that I share some of this anger.  I have a 25-year-old daughter myself, so this is very personal to me.  And I can tell you that all of our civilian and military leaders share my feelings.  And they share my unequivocal commitment to positive action going forward.

We are here today, the General and me, to announce additional measures by our military here in Japan which General Angelella, the Commander of U.S. Forces, Japan, will comment on in just a moment.  But let me say, and let me end by once again saying, that we will cooperate fully and completely with the Japanese authorities.  We will put forward every effort to make sure that incidents like this do not happen.  And we will continue to work every day to strengthen and expand the critically important relationship and deep friendship between our two great nations.

Thank you very much.