Press Briefing Room
August 15, 2023
SECRETARY BLINKEN: On Friday, President Biden will host Japanese Prime Minister Kishida and South Korean President Yoon at Camp David to mark what we believe is a new era in trilateral cooperation among our countries. I just spoke this morning with my counterparts from Japan and Korea – Foreign Minister Hayashi, Foreign Minister Park – to continue to prepare for the summit meeting on Friday. And I want to take this moment before saying anything else to extend the deepest condolences of the United States to President Yoon on the passing of his father. He was by all accounts a remarkable scholar and – among other things – a strong proponent of relations between the ROK and Japan.
This summit comes at a moment when our region and the world are being tested by geopolitical competition, by climate crisis, by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, by nuclear provocations. Our heightened engagement is part of our broader efforts to revitalize, to strengthen, to knit together our alliances and partnerships – and in this case, to help realize a shared vision of an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, prosperous, secure, resilient, and connected. And what we mean by that is a region where countries are free to chart their own path and to find their own partners, where problems are dealt with openly, where rules are reached transparently and applied fairly, and where goods, ideas, and people can flow lawfully and freely.
Japan and South Korea are core allies – not just in the region, but around the world. Strengthening our trilateral cooperation is critical to delivering for our people, for the region, and for the world. It’s a force multiplier for good. It helps us promote peace and stability and furthers our commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It advances our shared values and helps uphold principles of the UN Charter like sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity. It allows us to even more expand opportunity and prosperity.
That’s why President Biden is hosting this historic meeting – the first time foreign leaders have visited Camp David since 2015; the first standalone summit ever between our three countries. Together, the leaders will have an opportunity to discuss and to strengthen practical cooperation on a variety of shared priorities, from physical security to economic security, from humanitarian assistance to development finance, from global health to critical and emerging technologies.
This is something that I’ve been working on closely for many, many years, building collaboration among the United States, Japan, and South Korea. And I take this back to my time as deputy secretary. Then, over two years – 2015, 2016 – I held six trilateral meetings, one of which included then Vice President Biden. As Secretary, I’ve convened six more trilaterals to deepen and strengthen our cooperation. Former Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, of course, is – also engaged intensely in working trilaterally with Japan and Korea. Over the years, we have moved from addressing difficult and sensitive issues of history to an increasingly ambitious and affirmative agenda. And as we look to the future, this growing partnership will continue to enable us to do more for the security and the prosperity of all.
QUESTION: On the trilateral summit, I’m wondering whether the United States is concerned about Japan’s plans to discharge treated radioactive water from the Fukushima power plant. Do you think these plans could undermine South Korean President Yoon and damage the rapprochement between Tokyo and Seoul?
ANSWER: With regard to the release of water from Fukushima, we are satisfied with Japan’s plans, which are safe and in accordance with international standards, including, critically, the IAEA nuclear safety standards. Japan has coordinated closely, proactively with the IAEA on its plans, and they’ve conducted a science-based and transparent process, one that we’re satisfied with.