Ambassador Kennedy’s Statement on SOFA Discussions

Ambassador Caroline Kennedy spoke to the press together with Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, and USFJ Commander John Dolan. They announced a joint statement on the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

Ambassador Caroline Kennedy:

Minister Kishida, Minister Nakatani, General Dolan: On behalf of the American people, I want to extend my deepest sympathy to the victims and families of the Japanese citizens who were murdered in Dhaka, as they were working to help build a better future for Bangladesh.

Our hearts are with the JICA community, which does such outstanding work around the world, and with the Japanese people. The United States stands with Japan as we work together to fight the brutality and evil of terrorism.

We are here this morning to announce an agreement that will strengthen and modernize our alliance. Last month, Secretary Carter and Minister Nakatani committed to develop rigorous measures to improve the implementation and monitoring of the Status of Forces Agreement, and enhance training for all U.S. personnel. Today’s agreement accomplishes those important objectives. It is complemented by a series of robust measures already instituted by General Dolan and our USFJ colleagues.

No president has done more to strengthen the U.S.-Japan Alliance than President Obama. On his visit to Japan last month, he restated the U.S. commitment to working together for peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. His visit to Hiroshima demonstrated the power of reconciliation and the deep bonds that unite our peoples.

He also expressed his deep regret for the recent tragedy in Okinawa, his desire to work with the government of Japan to prevent future crimes, and he clarified full U.S. support for prosecution within the Japanese legal system. Today’s agreement is a further indication of the commitment of the United States government.

Likewise, Prime Minister Abe has called the alliance the linchpin of Japanese diplomacy. He has shown great leadership to ensure it works effectively in Okinawa, throughout Japan, and around the world. We are fortunate to be members of such a strong and unique partnership. The United States has no greater responsibility than to keep both our peoples safe.

We constantly work to improve our ability to protect and defend Japan in fulfillment of our treaty obligations. And we strive to be worthy of the trust and friendship of the communities around our bases, and the entire Japanese nation.