CSIS-Nikkei Forum Keynote Speech by A/S Campbell

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell
Tokyo, Japan

October 26, 2012

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: First of all, good morning everyone. Thank you so much for joining us here this morning, and it's an honor to be back in Japan and among friends and to have the opportunity to address this extraordinarily important forum, the CSIS-Nikkei Forum on U.S.-Japan Relations in Asia and the World. I think as you can see from this turnout and previous years' experience, this is now a fixture in terms of the Asia-Pacific dialogue on matters of importance going forward, and I'm very grateful to our friends from Nikkei for their support for this and for the strong effort that is given by CSIS. I think you all understand that at a time where there is so much focus on domestic issues, the fact that Nikkei is committed to assisting the Japanese people and the people of the world to understand each other better is a wonderful thing, and I'd like all of us to join very quickly in a thank you to both CSIS and the Nikkei for their support for this effort.

I am joined here today by what can be described as the foundational players of American engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. I just want to say a word, for a moment, about each of them, given their important role. And what's critical about this group that's already been introduced is that they reflect not only the best of American policy-making, but they are profoundly bipartisan in scope, and they represent the fact that American engagement in Asia is indeed bipartisan and that no matter what happens in the upcoming American election, the Japanese friends, friends in Asia, can be comforted and reassured that the general trends of American engagement - strong commitment to our allies, deep engagement in the region, strong optimistic trade engagement - that those will be the continuing factors along with the strong defense component going forward.

You've all heard about John Hamre. John Hamre has built CSIS into the powerhouse of security issues and Asia in Washington. It is by far and away the most influential institution and deeply committed to the American role in the Asia-Pacific region. Dr. Hamre also serves as a quiet confidante of all the key players in Washington, and he heads the Defense Policy Board.

Joe Nye, as Assistant Secretary of Defense, took on U.S.-Japan relations and provided forward momentum for it in the 1990s at the end of the Cold War when there were many questions about whether our alliance will be sustained into the future, and his commitment and support of late has been extraordinarily important.

Rich Armitage, I think as you know, is the godfather of U.S.-Japan relations. When any of us seek to work on issues associated with Asia, we all have to make a trek to his office outside Washington. He will put his hand out; we will kiss the ring; and hopefully have the opportunity to work with him and his team as we work together to promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

And then my good friend Mike Green, who played the bagpipes at my wedding, has provided the kind of strategic insight and a balanced approach, not just on Japan but in Asia, that has basically assisted the next generation of people who work on Asia going forward. He is currently working on a book now that will define how the United States thinks about Asia over the course of the last 100 years and how to think about it going forward.

You could not have better representatives of the United States, stronger supporters of the U.S.-Japan relationship than these four gentlemen, and I'm particularly grateful to Deputy Secretary Armitage and Assistant Secretary Nye for their recent mission, unofficial engagement that they took on, traveling to both Japan and China to listen and to interact with key stakeholders about the critical issues associated with the difficult territorial disputes that are currently so important today in the Asia-Pacific region. So I'm very grateful to be in the company of these men and looking forward to hearing from them as we go forward.

As we get into the discussions today, I need to begin, if I may, with a heartfelt apology and a deep commitment to Japanese friends. I think you all know last week there was a tragic incident in Okinawa. These incidents are profoundly, deeply regrettable, and the United States takes them very seriously. You will have seen in the wake of this extraordinarily unfortunate attack, the United States has worked closely with our counterparts here in Japan, and we've put in place universal curfews here in Japan and training initiatives to signal very clearly our determination that something like this will not happen again. Our Ambassador, our senior officials with the Department of Defense here in Japan and in Hawaii have taken extraordinary steps. We continue to work closely with Japanese colleagues to do everything possible to make clear our commitment to work closely in a strong, neighborly way with our hosts in Okinawa who support American military engagement in Japan and in the region. This role is critical. We need a strong military alliance with Japan, and the role that Okinawa plays is deeply appreciated, but we recognize the responsibilities that our engagement there in Okinawa provide us, and we intend to take those responsibilities very seriously.

I think all of you understand that there is a dawning recognition about something that is well known in Japan and Asia but is I think dawning now more in the United States and Europe, and that is a recognition that the lion's share of the history of the 21st century will be playing out here in the Asia-Pacific region and that this is the dominant fulcrum in global politics. This is the pivot point, if you will, for how global politics will be shaped in the 21st century, and what you have seen in the United States over the course of the last several years, beginning first in the Bush administration with a very strong, determined engagement not only of our allies, but particularly of India, one of the most important strategic initiatives of recent years, and continued on during the Obama administration with strong engagement with a number of new actors and players, is a recognition that this is where the action is. And you will see going forward, I think, a sustained effort on the part of the United States to underscore a continuing commitment in the Asia-Pacific region.

Now in fact there is nothing new here. We have been engaged in the Asia-Pacific region and in strong partnerships for decades, but that does not mean that we cannot further step up our game, and we will do so. And I think you will find a deep and profound bipartisan commitment to that effort going forward. So as you look over the Asia-Pacific region, it is impossible not to underestimate all the many challenges that each of us face and the kinds of opportunities for an expanded U.S.-Japan relationship going forward. So let me take a few moments to describe both the opportunities and the challenges that we face as we confront Asia in the 21st century.

First of all, in the near term we are facing a dramatic set of potential leadership changes across Asia: Clearly the party congress in China, with a major change in leadership, not just at the top but through the entire upper echelon of the party and the military - extraordinarily important with potentially implications that will have cascading effects, not only in China but through the Asia-Pacific region - upcoming election in South Korea after a period of unprecedented cooperation between Washington and Seoul, an election in the United States in a week and a half, and obviously questions about what will transpire here in Japan. Given all of these changes, it is incredibly important that we sustain high-level dialogue and discussions around the edges of these momentous developments in terms of domestic politics.

Second, I think it is now well understood that the United States is indeed focused on the Asia-Pacific region in a way that suggests a greater intensity than in the past, but the key will be "Can we sustain it? Can we resource it? Can we make clear that our commitment will go beyond simply policies to programs and to other aspects of a deeper engagement?" Now I am myself very confident that this will transpire, but it will take more than simply declarations from diplomats or politicians. It will require a sustained level of engagement over years and over a course of not one or two administrations, but several.

We have extraordinarily important enduring commitments in the Middle East and South Asia. Those will be important; we will continue to work and focus on those, but increasingly I would like to see that again the primary shaper of domestic and global politics will be American engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.

I think one of the unintended consequences of this effort to refocus is, I think, that initially there was a question about whether the United States would be moving away from Europe. And I think what we have sought to do in the last year or so is to make very clear that what we seek to do is to establish a closer partnership with Europe - about Asia. And if you think about American purpose in the world, everything that the United States has ever done of consequence, whether it's in Afghanistan or Pakistan or the Balkans or dealing with multilateral challenges like climate change, we have done with Europe. That partnership has been essential. And so what we are seeking to do is to establish a much deeper set of engagements between the United States and Europe on Asia, and we ask Japan to join with us in that effort. And in fact, over the course of the last 20 years, it has been Japan perhaps more than any country in Asia that has suggested that a European role in Asian affairs - commercially, on human rights, on the promotion of democracy and indeed strategically - is in the best interests of all concerned. So as we think about this effort to rebalance and re-engage the United States in Asia, it will be critical that we receive the support not just of the countries in the region, but others going forward.

But let me say again: I am very confident that this effort is well supported, that it will be resourced and that it will be the defining feature of American foreign policy going forward.

Third, clearly Asia is currently confronting a whole host of economic challenges and opportunities. For the United States it will be to seek to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the earliest possible time, and the TPP has the potential to be a game-changing agreement that underscores 21st century capabilities on trade that could reshape the parameters of economic engagement in the region as a whole. In addition, you are seeing a rebalancing of American economic engagement in the region. No longer will we be able to sustain an economic relationship where the United States absorbs the lion's share of exports from Asia. There needs to be a greater reciprocity in our engagement, and so as we go forward, American firms now are exporting more and more to Asia, and you are seeing a dramatic increase in American economic and commercial engagement in Asia over the course of the last several years, and if anything, that trajectory will increase going forward, and that level of economic engagement - trade - from the United States to Asia - exports - if anything will sustain a broader, deeper engagement for Asia in the United States going forward.

But at the same time, just as we are seeing a slowdown in Europe, the United States is still moving toward growth, a sustained higher level of growth, the burdens on the Asia-Pacific region are manifest. This northeast Asia is indeed the cockpit of the global economy. We are looking to northeast Asia to continue to drive global growth, and that is extraordinarily important.

Now here I want to say something that I think is well understood by all: The complex set of interactions between the United States and Japan, between Japan and Korea, between Japan and China - these relationships, not only politically and strategically but economically and commercially - drive progress in the modern world. And so even though there are going to be tensions on a variety of fronts, it is in the strongest possible strategic interests of all concerned to see economic progress and cooperation move forward in northeast Asia. That is something that we must support, and we must take efforts to ensure that nothing undermines progress in this arena into the future.

Now at the same time that we face these remarkable opportunities on the economic and trade front in the Asia-Pacific region, we must always be reminded of the enduring challenges, and nowhere is that challenge more obvious than on the Korean peninsula. We have a new untested leadership in North Korea. In truth we do not know yet what the character of the regime will be. The United States, Japan and South Korea have all made clear that we are prepared to work and engage with North Korea on the understanding that they will renounce their nuclear ambitions, that they are prepared to join with the international community and to work with us in a manner that supports the continuation of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

Ultimately what is necessary in this current environment is the closest possible coordination between Japan, the United States and South Korea in close dialogue also with China so that we are able to understand what is developing inside North Korea as we go forward. But that is not the end of the challenge as obviously, even though we have a stable situation currently across the Taiwan strait, we always have to be vigilant there, and there are a number of other challenges like piracy and other challenges like communicable diseases that require an unprecedented level of cooperation among defense and other officials in the Asia-Pacific region, and we support that going forward.

One of the most exciting things that is occurring in Asia currently is the development of institutions. Institutional innovation and change will be a defining feature of Asia over the course of the next 20 years. In many respects, it resembles the institution-building that went on in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. For the first time, truly all the major countries in Asia are preparing, are engaging in different ways in anticipation of deep discussions at the ASEAN regional forum, at the East Asia Summit, at the meeting of defense ministers that take place on a regular basis. These institutions will come to define the geography of dialogue in the Asia-Pacific region, and every country in the region takes these discussions much more seriously than they had in the past.

Now in fact all multilateral institutions in Asia have relatively shallow roots, but ultimately we want to see those roots deepened. We want greater dialogue and cooperation among the key countries in Asia, and we want dialogue that allows for real discussion about issues of mutual concern - territorial matters, issues associated with arms buildups, questions associated with difficult cross-boundary issues between countries. These institutions will be the defining features of Asia into the 21st century, and the United States stands ready to participate. I would say that it is our general view that if issues of concern are being discussed in the Asia-Pacific region - security, politics, trade - the United States wants the potential to have a seat at the table because we believe fundamentally we are part of those conversations just as we are part of the geography going forward.

These institutions are remarkably important as we deal with a range of challenges beyond those that I've already mentioned. Some of the opportunities that we deal with, not only how to best engage the rising dynamics of China, but also other actors in the Asia-Pacific region - Indonesia is playing a much larger role in the politics of Southeast Asia, they are emerging as a leading state not just in the G20, but across a number of important venues. India's role, as I mentioned earlier, not just in South Asia, but increasingly as a country that plays a critical in the Asia-Pacific region is remarkably important and we believe that new operational concepts that frankly link the Indian Ocean with the Pacific Ocean in a synergistic way will be defining for the 21st century. I think we will come to view India's rise in the years ahead with the same significance that we did with China's rise in the 1980s and 1990s. It is remarkable how much dialogue has increased for instance between the United States, Japan, and India on issues of critical importance. We support India's engagement across a range of institutions and issues in Asia going forward.

I think it is also the case that what we have seen of late is a remarkable opportunity with respect to Burma, what we call Burma but most of the world still refers to as Myanmar. Japan in many respects has led the way here, two weeks ago holding an extraordinarily important meeting bringing international financiers, World Bank, and other players from the international financial institutions and the multilateral development banks together to talk about how to deal with Burma's debt and how to restructure and think about reform and development going forward. This is a unique opportunity. There are many challenges that remain inside the country, but the opportunities are very real. I saw with my own eyes as Aung San Suu Kyi received the Congressional Gold Medal that one of the first groups in the audiences on the Capitol Rotunda that day to stand up and to congratulate her and to celebrate her remarkable achievement was the official delegation from the Government of Myanmar. So we have seen a level of engagement between Aung San Suu Kyi, her party, and the Government of Myanmar and also an increasingly important role of parliament inside government that suggests the potential for continuing progress and engagement is very real. Japan and the United States have a unique role to play here to sustain this opening and to ensure that Burma's progress continues into the remainder of the 21st century.

Then lastly, if I may say, one of the most delicate, difficult issues that all of us are dealing with currently is the matter of territorial disputes, which not only involve Japan and China and Japan and South Korea, but as you've seen the territorial issues of dispute in the South China Sea as well. Now I'm not going to get today and in this venue into the intricacies of the U.S. role and our overall approach. I will say that you will see that the United States tries to very carefully articulate principles - freedom of navigation, peaceful resolution of disputes, dealing with appropriate international legal mechanisms for dealing with these issues - but ultimately it is our insistence that these matters be dealt with in a mature, careful way that recognizes again that we have larger equities at stake. Maintaining global progress, maintaining the dialogue and the progress that we've seen in Asia over the course of the last several decades is in the paramount interest, not only of our country but all countries involved, and I think we all have to recognize that in many respects these are not new issues, these are issues that have been with us for decades and we have found the wit and wisdom in many respects to deal with them, to put them in their appropriate context, and find ways to cooperate going forward. It is our goal and desire to see that framework used going forward and that's one of the reasons we're so grateful for the role that former Deputy Secretary Armitage, Professor Nye, Secretary Steinberg, and Steve Hadley for their role and their commitment unofficially to travel to both countries to underscore our commitment to the maintenance of peace and stability, and to ensure that there are open lines and trusting lines of conversation and communication during these difficult matters.

So these are the issues that we're dealing with. This is the focus of the remarkable set of opportunities and challenges. I will simply say that what the United States has realized, perhaps more than anything else over the course of the last several years, is that it is not possible for the United States to be an effective actor in the Asia-Pacific region unless we have a partnership of strength and vitality with Japan. It is essential. So one of the things that we hope you see with this bipartisan group before you is that the United States is committed, that at the foundation of our support is the strong, extraordinary relationship that we've enjoyed with Japan for decades and we are committed to that going into the future. But what I think is of equal significance, last night at the wonderful dinner that Nikkei convened for us, we saw very clearly that across the political spectrum in Japan, perhaps for the first time in decades, there is a strong consensus among every political party that a good relationship with the United States and Japan is of manifest importance. So we want to take full advantage of the fact that polling on both sides, that political realities suggest a deep and sustained commitment to this alliance going forward. Unlike previous periods in the past where we had to build public support, our primary challenge is not so much building it, but deciding what to do with it. How do we use this remarkable resource of political and public support on both sides of the Pacific.

Let me conclude with just a few ideas of things that we need to think about going forward. First let me just say, at the heart of our relationship has to be people-to-people exchanges. The diplomatic engagement is important, the military-to-military relationship is indispensible, but we need more engagement among our young people, we need more commercial and economic engagement that brings our societies in closer contact with one another.

I just want to give you a couple of examples of things that I think are so important going forward. A hundred years ago Japan made a gift of the United States of 3,000 lovely cherry trees that many of you know are planted around the tidal pool in Washington. It's the most wonderful gift. It's one of the greatest gifts, along with the Statue of Liberty, that the United States has ever received. This year, on the hundredth anniversary of that gift, the United States government made a comparable gift to Japan. We gave Japan 3,000 specially grown dogwood trees that we will be planting over the course of the next year both in Yoyogi Park and also at a new park that will be dedicated in the area not far from the tragic site of the earthquake and the nuclear disaster. This program is called Friendship Blossoms, strongly supported by a partnership between government and commercial players. This has brought schools and peoples and botanists and others together to create a lasting memorial that will be remembered and visited by generations of Japanese and visitors for years to come.

We want more programs like that. John Roos, our wonderful Ambassador here in Tokyo, has supported the TOMODACHI Initiative, that is an attempt to assist in the rebuilding of the ravaged parts of Japan and building deeper areas of cooperation and friendship between our two sides. We must seek areas like this to build a deeper base of support in the relationship going forward.

But we cannot stop there. We must recognize that there are a whole host of other issues that demand cooperation on the part of Japan and the United States. We share common interests in the promotion of democracy and human rights and that dialogue, that engagement is increasingly important. Our alliance is no longer a regional alliance. It is a global alliance. When we look at global challenges, one of the first partners we turn to always is Japan, whether it's in Afghanistan or Pakistan or issues associated with the promotion of health and prosperity in the Pacific, Japan is the first partner that says yes, the first partner that wants to work with us going forward.

We face enduring traditional security challenges of the kind that we think about on a daily basis, but it is also the case that we face new and very challenging parameters of threats to both of our countries in the cyber arena, and closer cooperation between the United States and Japan in cyber issues and cyber challenges is going to be of critical importance. Energy insecurity, energy uncertainty requires, demands a level of engagement and discussion, not just between the United States and Japan, not just between our two governments, but among a variety of other critical players and that dialogue must include also other players in Asia, including countries like China and South Korea.

It's also the case that the transnational agenda, as we look to define the challenges of the 21st century again including major challenges like climate change, requires a deeper sustained engagement between our two sides.

I would just conclude by saying that it is inconceivable that the United States could be effective in Asia without Japan. There are often questions about whether the United States will wander, will see another country that is more enticing. I am here to tell you that the foundation of our engagement, the enduring quality of our partnership is absolutely essential. We cannot do without it. We thank you for the commitment that you have given to the United States, we believe that we have reciprocated strongly, providing the basis for remarkable growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. We believe that whatever we do in the multilateral fora will be consistent with our bilateral relationship between the United States and Japan. We must continue to innovate, we must continue to be creative, we must continue to be brave in the face of threats, and we must be clear with each other about how much we treasure and how much we are committed to working through problems. I want to again thank Nikkei for the remarkable hospitality they provided for this. May we have many more years of this kind of discussion and in fact we hope other kinds of venues like this will grow in the time ahead. I very much look forward to engaging with all of you and I thank Nikkei and CSIS for this wonderful opportunity. Thank you all very much.