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Japanese Prime Minister Welcomes Carter to Tokyo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2016 — The U.S.-Japan alliance has a strength that is unlike any other, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

The secretary praised Abe’s vision and leadership “as well as our commitment and President [Barack] Obama's commitment” to the U.S.-Japan alliance.

That is critical, Carter said.

“It is the cornerstone of security in the Asia-Pacific, now and in the future, even as it [has] been in the past,” he added.

The defense secretary said the United States shares Abe’s commitment to maintaining stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Abe welcomed the secretary to Japan, adding, “In the past four years under the administration of President Obama, we successfully and significantly reinforced the alliance between Japan and the United States. And I'd like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation of all your contributions as the secretary of defense.”

Okinawa Land Transfer

Through a translator, Abe expressed his appreciation to Carter “for your support in the impact mitigation in Okinawa with regard to the return of the total of 4,000 acres in the Northern Training Area. … We sincerely hope to realize the return through our collaboration and cooperation on the 22nd of this month.”

Carter confirmed his desire to complete the transition by Dec. 22.

Upcoming Hawaii Meetings

The prime minister said that when he visits Hawaii later this month, he and Obama will conduct a bilateral meeting, and together will visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial “where we will pray for the souls of the war vets.”

“On that occasion, I would like to demonstrate my determination for the future that we must never again repeat the devastation of war,” Abe said.

The secretary told Abe the president is looking forward to his visit to Hawaii, adding, “Your two meetings is a great sign of a joint commitment to peace and also to reconciliation.”

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)