Roundtable With Japanese Journalists
Secretary Colin L. Powell
October 24, 2004
SECRETARY OF STATE POWELL: It's good to see you all and thank you giving me this opportunity. I've had good
conversations with the Foreign Minister and with the Prime Minister, and they have practically covered the full range of
international as well as bilateral issues. One thing I would say is that, in my judgment, the U.S.-Japanese relationship
is strong and getting stronger with each passing day. It's so strong at the top between the President and the Prime
Minister and at the ministerial level across all departments. We've shown how we can deal with the challenges that come
along, whether it's a problem of BSE or how to deal with a delicate issue like Sergeant Jenkins or how to deal with the
six-party talks and so many other areas in which we have cooperated and moved forward.
Japan occupies an increasingly important role on the international stage and it is living up to this new role. What
Japan has been able to do by sending its humanitarian forces out of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to Iraq is evidence
of this; assisting with providing fuel to our forces that are working in the Indian Ocean; working on the Proliferation
Security Initiative; the Donors' Conference that was here hosted for Iraq two weeks ago and I still remember the first
donors' conference we had for Afghanistan a couple of years back. All of this shows a growing role for Japan in the
world. But that growing role -- we are mindful -- must be consistent with Japanese constitutional provisions and the
will of the Japanese people.
The Minister and I have been talking about expanding our dialogue to a more strategic level, and that's why your old
friend Rich Armitage was here two weeks ago, to begin those discussions, and I look forward to expanding those
discussions. It is only when we have a strategic concept in place, can we can deal with these separate issues of
deployment and transformation of our forces, the situation with respect to our force presence in Okinawa and similar
issues. So, this was a good meeting, but I'm not here to give you a speech or a lecture, but to take your questions.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, welcome to Japan. I would like to ask about the U.S. military's realignment in Japan. We
understand we need U.S. military for the defense of this nation, but our people's concern is more toward regional and
strategic security environment in this region. Of course, we have troops in the Indian Ocean and Iraq, but the people's
concern is, 'If we follow the transformation of the U.S. military, where will our own military go?' -- because, we have
limited capability, the people of Japan have a sense of restraint when it comes to anything military. So, when the
discussion between the two governments started the realignment talks, Secretary Armitage told in a press conference that
there were too many particulars, rather than philosophy. I mean particulars with respect to where which troops go -- go
to this place, you know -- too many details coming out to the press first, rather than talking about the philosophy of
the alliance. What is your idea, Sir, of the philosophy of the U.S.-Japan alliance in the near future?
SECRETARY POWELL: Rich is right in that we tend to focus on, what's going to happen to this airbase or that airbase or
how many troops are leaving or how many troops are coming. It has to be in a broader context. And the kinds of
discussions were going to be having in the future; how has the world changed since the U.S.-Japan security treaty was
entered into. What are the new threats? And the old threats remain. And these new threats on top of old threats. And how
should we deal of all of this?
The United States has to transform its forces because the force structure that we've had in Asia, and especially in
Europe, was based on a model of a war that might break out that would involve the whole world against the communist
empires- China and the Soviet Union. Well, that model is gone. when I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff I
brought the size of the our forces down, working with then-Secretary Cheney, about a half a million troops and a quarter
million reserves and a quarter million civilians to respond to that changed world. The world has continued to change
over the last ten years, and Mr. Rumsfeld has been making that realignment effort now.
Now, there are some things that have not changed, that are enduring realities. And one is that the presence of U.S.
troops in the Asia Pacific region has allowed the nations of the Asian Pacific region to thrive- by providing stability
and by providing a counterbalance to any other adventurous regime that might rise. We don't want to change that. I don't
think any of the leaders of Japan or the Japanese people would like to see that balance disturbed. So, all of our
transformation discussions have to take place within the strategic framework that it is in everyone's strategic interest
for there to be a strong U.S. presence in Asia and that includes a significant presence in Japan. Does it have to be at
the current level? Should it be at a lower level, a higher level? This is what Rich was talking about; these are the
kinds of details we have to work our way through. But it begins with an understanding that our strategic partnership is
as important as ever, and our force presence in the Asian Pacific region is as important as ever and that includes a
significant presence in Japan. But, we understand that our presence is a considerable burden in Okinawa, and is there
something we can do to relieve some of that burden? Are there other needs that we have here that are not now being
satisfied and we should talk to our Japanese friends about? And so, I think all of these things are on the table for
discussion now as befits two confident, strong partners.
QUESTION: Sir, just a follow-up for this question. When you talk about transformation or redeploying of forces in this
region, what kind of role do you perceive Japan to play as a goal? Is it going to be just a host nation or
power-projection hub that you are going to set up around here? Or are you looking for Japan being a sort of a
full-fledged strategic partner who works, together with the United States, to shape the order, regional or global order?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think principally Japan has been concerned, as Mr. Hayashi mentioned, about regional security and
stability. Your constitution is rather clear as to what the role of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces should be. And we
helped in the construction of that constitution for a good and sufficient reason. I think that the Japanese people
really hold that constitution close to their chest and to their hearts. And so anything that is done has to take that
So we see Japanese Self-Defense Forces, first and foremost, playing the role that they have played for many, many years
now, and that is for regional security and stability. Anything that the Japanese forces might do outside of that
context, such as what you're doing in Iraq now, or what you're doing on PSI or what you're doing in the Indian Ocean
with us has to be a decision made by the Japanese people. The United States is not coming in and saying,' as part of our
strategic dialogue, we demand that Japan start doing this or Japan start doing that. We are very sensitive to the strong
feelings of your government, the Diet and the Japanese people with respect to the use of their Self-Defense Forces. But
I think that what your political leadership has been able to achieve over the past year, with respect to deployments
under the special terrorism legislation to Iraq, shows that Japan recognizes that it is a very complex war against
terror. It is a very complex world out there, and Japan has a role to play in that world, and it will find ways to play
that role, as you've done in Iraq. But you will not find the United States coming in to define that role for you, or in
any way to suggest that this is the way it has to be. We know how sensitive you are about this issue, and the United
States shares that sensitivity.
QUESTION: You know the President just the other day signed the North Korean Human Rights Act. Could you tell us what
you are going to do with this act, and especially in relation to the Japanese abduction issue?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think there is a direct relationship to the Japanese abduction issue and the law that the
The law sets up a special envoy to focus on North Korean human rights activities and behavior, and also provides money
for us to assist NGOs that might be working on human rights issues in North Korea or from outside North Korea. North
Korea is a difficult place to work in at all on these issues. But the North Korean people are speaking out. They're
jumping over fences. They're jumping into embassy compounds. They're jumping into schoolyards. And they are trying to
get away from this regime that has made life so difficult for them not only economically difficult, but by having no
respect whatsoever for human rights. And there is no greater piece of evidence for their lack of respect for human
rights than the abductee issue that is so important here in Japan. I mean they came and took people. A state did this,
not terrorists, but a state, a terrorist state did this. And so that certainly shows a disrespect for human rights.
Now, does this mean human rights are going to improve suddenly in North Korea? Not likely. But remember many, many
years ago when the international community came together and said, for example, in Helsinki the Helsinki final act that
said human rights are important, and this is a given in any civilized world or civilized nation. And people thought,
well, the Russians won't pay any attention to this. The Soviet Union isn't going to pay much attention to what a bunch
of folks in Helsinki said. But we learned much later that the people who were being oppressed saw what happened and knew
the international community was out there and concerned. And frankly, those kinds of statements that kind of act led to
changes in the Soviet Union that ultimately brought about its demise. And for our Congress to be speaking out clearly
now about the human rights situation in North Korea and the need for us to focus on it is not going to have immediate
results, but it may be of a similar nature to the Helsinki final act, where you make a clear statement about where your
expectations are with respect to the treatment of people in your own land and how deplorable it is to have participated
in such actions as abducting people from another nation.
QUESTION: As to the North Korean policy [inaudible], Mr. Kerry has proposed bilateral direct talks with the North
Korean government. How do you evaluate his proposal at this point?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we believe the multilateral six-party talks are the way to do it. We have had direct talks with
the North Koreans before. The Agreed Framework resulted from direct talks with North Koreans. The Agreed Framework did
not solve the problem. The North Koreans said, Fine, we'll do everything we said we would do over here, at Yongbyon, and
then right around the corner they started to develop nuclear weapons in another way, through enriched uranium activity.
And we believe that it was important for North Korea to know that their problem was not just with the United States it
was with their neighbors. Their neighbors see that North Korea is a greater threat to them than it is to the United
States. And it is for that reason that all the neighbors came together in the six-party framework. And those who suggest
that we should forget about that and just have bilateral discussions with the North Koreans. The North Koreans I know
what they will do they'll show up and they'll say, what are you going to give us? How much are you going to pay us to
stop misbehaving? And we've made it clear that we have seen this kind of tactic before from them, and they should not be
rewarded for what is misbehavior. And They are desperate to make it a one-to-one contest with the United States, and I
think anybody who would approach the problem that way, after we have gotten the six-party framework moving forward, will
be disappointed, whether it is Mr. Kerry or anyone else. The North Koreans, I think, will discover that after our
election, however it turns out, they're going to have to deal with the six-party framework.
QUESTION: May I ask about Iraq? What are three major mistakes or errors the United States made in Iraq, and how can you
fix it, after the January elections?
SECRETARY POWELL: The insurgency turned out to be a more difficult problem than we had anticipated. And we might have
reacted to it more quickly. But we now understand the nature of the challenge we have with that insurgency, and we are
adjusting our military strategy and our other efforts to build up the Iraqi forces, and have the Iraqi forces work with
us in our new military strategy to go after the insurgents in the Sunni triangle. We are confident that we will be
successful. I can't tell you how long it will take. And we are pressing ahead for elections at the end of January 2005.
In Afghanistan, everybody said elections would be too hard; the Taliban will stop it; the Al Qaeda will stop it. But we
had elections and they were very successful. And the Afghan people told the terrorists and the Al Qaeda and the Taliban
that you're not going to stop us, we want to vote. And I think the same thing is possible in Iraq.
One can list errors and mistakes and what did you do right and what did you do wrong. All you asked is what did you do
wrong. What we did right is that a dictator is no longer there. That we can debate weapons of mass destruction all you
care to as a historic matter, but there won't be any in the future, nor will there have to be any concern about such
weapons in the future. And that a people who had been oppressed are no longer oppressed by a government, they are being
challenged by an insurgency, but they are no longer being oppressed by their government. And the world will see that the
oil in Iraq will now be used to benefit the people of Iraq and not just benefit those tyrants who did nothing but build
palaces and suppress the people of the country, in order to protect their privileged position within the society. And so
that's what we did that was so successful. The insurgency has been more difficult than we anticipated, but you adjust.
You change your strategy to meet the threat. We are changing our strategy to deal with this threat.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, when you were an army general, you were the person, before going into Iraq, who established a
doctrine to, when you have to make a decision to go to war, you need a sizeable force to do it. Now, why cannot the U.S.
military send more troops, more sizeable force to control the situation better?
SECRETARY POWELL: The commanders and officers responsible for designing the plan last year believed they had enough
troops to perform the mission. And they accomplished the first part of the mission rather quickly. And they were right,
even though there were many cricks, especially during the first couple of weeks. But they were right. There is a
question as to whether we had enough force to deal with the peacekeeping and imposition of order across the countryside.
The military, our military commanders, adjusted to that and rather than drawing down forces, as they thought they would
be doing last fall and into this year, they have kept the force level high and they have increased the number of troops
above the number of troops we had planned to have here. So they have adjusted. And the military commanders are reporting
to Secretary Rumsfeld that at the moment they have enough and our focus should be on building up the Iraqi forces.
Putting more forces in that will look like occupation forces is not as appropriate a way to go as building up Iraqi
forces at this time.
QUESTION: One of the sticking points in the discussions between the Japanese government and the U.S. is moving I-Corps
in Japan, and you were an Army four-star.
SECRETARY POWELL: I-Corps used to be under my command. All of it used to be under my command.
QUESTION: I know, so as you well know, it may come into conflict with the existing Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which
defines a kind of AOR being the Far East, because I-Corps could have a AOR logical Article 6 treaty. Is it really
indispensable for the U.S. to move I-Corps, command of I-Corps here, in order to complete the kind of regional
transformation you have in this region?
SECRETARY POWELL: We're not asking for any reinterpretation of Article 6 of the U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty. It is
clear and there is no confusion. How one might interpret it is another matter, but the language itself is clear. I think
the future of I-Corps and what might happen to it and what its mission might be and where it might go all this is up for
discussion. And I'm sure that as part of DPR dialog and the strategic high-level dialogue, our military authorities will
have a chance to describe what we have in mind. All of the forces of the United States have to have the ability to go
anywhere in the world. But this is a little unique in that we are talking about a headquarters, and what that
headquarters does. But I don't think any decisions have been made yet with respect to I-Corps' movement from the West
Coast of the United States to anywhere else, which is my understanding [Looks to Ambassador Baker] and the Ambassador's.
MR. BOUCHER: We have time for about two more.
QUESTION: Well, without compliments, I think there is no doubt that Mr. Powell is one of the most popular American
politicians here in Japan, and yet, we heard the speculation that you're going to leave from the government, regardless
of the result of the upcoming presidential election. Your answer to the Japanese public?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, if Mr. Kerry wins, I will leave, [Laughter] so it's not regardless of the outcome. I don't
expect Mr. Kerry to win. And I serve at the pleasure of President Bush. And so that's the only answer I can give to the
QUESTION: If he wants to reassign you as Secretary of State, are you happy?
SECRETARY POWELL: I serve at the pleasure of the President, and we will think about things one step at a time. Next
Tuesday is the first one step- a week from this Tuesday.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you think that the world is split or divided by the U.S. foreign policy? Or do you feel
that the world is losing respect to.
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think your prime minister would say that. What is U.S. foreign policy? If you just listen to
some of the critics of U.S. foreign policy, you would think it was a policy of pre-emption. OK, where has the United
States pre-empted? We went into Iraq after trying multilaterally- through the U.N. -to deal with this problem. And
saying to the U.N. for twelve years that Iraq has been ignoring your multilateral resolutions resolution after
resolution after resolution. And it's time to do something about it, and if the U.N. cannot act, we believe there is
sufficient authority in the U.N. resolutions, including the last one at the time, 1441, that a coalition of willing
nations should do it. And President Bush felt it had to be done, and he pulled together a coalition of nations that felt
the same way. That was pre-emption.
Where else? Afghanistan? That's not pre-emption. That was a counter-attack. They attacked us; we counter attacked.
Pre-emption in northeast Asia? No. Quite the contrary. We created the six-party framework. Pre-emption in Iran? No.
We're working with the European Union, and we're working with the International Atomic Energy Agency to deal with that
problem. Pre-emption in Libya? No. We worked with the United Kingdom and with the Libyans to persuade them they really
wanted to get rid of this stuff, and they did. So where else was there pre-emption? There isn't.
So what do you find as our foreign policy, if it isn't pre-emption? It's partnerships, partnerships of the kind that we
have here with Japan, having the kinds of talks that we have with Japan. My deputy was here ten days ago. I'm here now.
I've met with the new foreign minister twice in three and a half weeks. I met on a regular basis with his predecessors
in Japan. The United States chaired a meeting in New York four weeks ago to bring twenty eight nations together to talk
about reform and modernization in the Middle East. We have been working hard on trade agreements, bilateral trade
agreements and regional trade agreements for the purpose of free flow of goods to benefit all nations. We encourage the
significant increase in the size of NATO, from sixteen, I'm sorry nineteen, to twenty-six nations, an increase of seven
nations. We supported the expansion of the European Union. We've worked with the European Union. We've worked with NATO.
We've worked with the international community in dealing with Haiti; we got a U.N. resolution, we went in with the
French- woo- [laughter] and the Canadians. And we have now put in a U.N. force not an American force led by a Brazilian
general with a Chinese police company that just arrived. I mean how multi-lateral can you get? I mean how much can you
reach out? We are working in Liberia the same way. When we had that crisis last year, we did not go in and do all
ourselves, we supported African political leaders, ECOWAS. What we're doing in the Sudan now, we're working with the
But even when you work with the U.N. and you work with the OAS, when you work with the African Union, as we are doing
now very often in a multi-lateral arrangement, you need a leader. Somebody has to tell the multilateral group, Hey,
let's get going. Every team needs a coach or a captain or somebody who will serve as a leader, and very often that's a
role that falls to the United States. And so we're working with the African Union. For example, right now today, we have
U.S. airplanes standing by to fly in African Union forces to Darfur to help those people.
And so, if you look at everything we have been doing for the past four years of this administration, I can give you, on
one side of the ledger, partnership, partnership, expanding relations, community of democracy in the Western Hemisphere,
broader Middle East and North African initiative, helping India and Pakistan from going to war, creating a solid
relationship with India 1.2 billion people, best relationship with China that we've had in thirty years 1.3 billion
people. I can give you a list like this of what we have been doing in that area. And when you want to talk about the
strategy of pre-emption, that's not what we do. We don't look for wars. We look for peaceful solutions to problems. But
we will not shrink from defending our interests with military force if it becomes necessary. And because we are willing
to use military force should it become necessary as a last resort I think it makes diplomacy more effective.
QUESTION: Last question maybe? There was an earthquake last night. It is the biggest story on the front pages of Tokyo
newspapers, it should probably have been that the Self-Defense Forces base in Samara was direct hit. And it's an
indication for us to show the security situation in Iraq is still deteriorating. And also the current recent public poll
showed that 71 percent of the Japanese people think that starting the war in Iraq was a mistake. And I was wondering how
you can ensure Japanese people that our continued deployment in Iraq will really bear fruit. How can you turn around the
kind of perception that the Japanese people have on the war in Iraq?
SECRETARY POWELL: I'll say two things: One, we're aware that a round was fired at your facilities, your troops.
Fortunately, it was a dud. I'm not sure what it really was, but it was not a major incident. Nobody can guarantee that
somebody can't get close enough to shoot a mortar round. That's a danger, and I don't think anybody ever said that they
would not be subject to that kind of danger. But for the most part, they have been able to perform their humanitarian
operations in an environment of relative quiet and safety. You see the whole country is not aflame. It's principally in
the Sunni triangle and a few other cities outside of the triangle Mosul and a couple of other places. But where your
Self-Defense Forces troops have been performing their humanitarian missions, it's been relatively safe and relatively
uneventful, and I hope it stays that way.
I understand that public opinion in many of the countries that are working with us same thing as in Europe public
opinion is against these kinds of deployments. But I think if you can defeat this insurgency, and if you can show that
the Iraqi people are having an election where they choose their own leaders and they are moving toward democracy, that
opinion will change. I have been in a number of situations and crises over the years where we had to take action people
were in general very disapproving of until they saw the subsequent results, the outcome. Everybody might have said you
shouldn't have been doing what you're doing in Afghanistan, but suddenly, Hmm, you know, that's why they did it. Why
shouldn't these people have the opportunity to vote? And they did. Look. They like what the Americans did. The polls
elsewhere might not like what the Americans did in Afghanistan, but the Afghan people like what the Americans and their
coalition partners did in Afghanistan.
So I hope that if we get this insurgency under control and have elections, these attitudes will change. And I would
also say that if it was not for this insurgency if we weren't fighting these terrorists and these foreign regime
elements and our reconstruction was going smoothly and the election process was going smoothly, everybody would be
applauding what we have done, and the polls would be quite different. But if every day you see car bombs going off on
television and that's the focus of all of the attention, that will tend to affect public opinion negatively. What you
don't see on television every day are schools being opened, local council meetings being held, other things happening
that are good. When we open a sewage plant or where some shops open or something else that is positive that is happening
but it won't get on television. But if it's car bombs, it'll be on television. And I think that affects negatively on
Thank you very much.
Released on October 24, 2004