Tracking Number:  129881

Title:  "US Considering 10 Percent Military Cut in Asia." Q-and-A from Defense Secretary Richard Cheney's Tokyo press conference (900223)

Date:  19900223


02/23/90 * U.S. CONSIDERING 10 PERCENT MILITARY CUT IN ASIA (3540) (Transcript: Q-and-A from Cheney Tokyo press conference)

Tokyo -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney said February 23 that the United States has discussed with its allies in the Asia-Pacific region a 10 percent reduction in its military presence there.

In a question-and-answer session following a speech at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Cheney said that consultations with Japan and Korea and the Philippines had taken place, but that the reductions discussed were modest. "It is on the order of approximately 10 percent scattered across the region," Cheney said. "To be more precise than that at this point I think would do violence to our desire to consult and to have our military officials actively involved in deciding which specific modifications ought to be made in force structure. That's something that will be decided in consultation with our allies."

The first phase of the reductions, he said, would take about three years.

Cheney said that the changes contemplated would preserve U.S. combat capability in the region by restructuring and improving the quality of the forces that remain. Such a restructuring, he said, would not require rearming Japan.

Following is transcript of the question-and-answer session:

(begin transcript)

Q: Miyama from Yomiuri Shimbun. In your speech the Secretary had indicated that no final decision has yet been made for the actual reduction of the troops stationed in this area. However, you have said that your main emphasis is to have a moderate adjustment in the actual size. And I understand that you have had important meetings yesterday with Prime Minister Kaifu, the director general of the Japan Defense Agency, and Foreign Minister Nakayama. And we hear that a certain proposal has been made regarding the reduction of the U.S. troops stationed in Japan. However, the actual figures have not been disclosed in the newspaper reporting. There are so many different stories being reported. For example, the reduction will be by 5,000 to 6,000 over a three-year period of time, or reduction by 5,000 over a two-to-three-year period of time. And the reason that no actual figures have been cited in the Japanese newspapers was because no briefing had been conducted from the Japanese side indicating the actual number. So, if possible -- I understand the fact that no final decision has been made yet -- but if you can I'd be willing to hear from you directly what the U.S. plan holds for the possible reduction of U.S. troops stationed in Japan.

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That's the first question, and if you really have such a plan to reduce the U.S. troops stationed here, then what would be the timeframe under which such a reduction would take place? That will be my second question.

It was also said during yesterday's meeting that, even if a certain reduction is to be effected for the U.S. troops stationed in Japan, it will not lead to any reduction in the force power or strength, in essence. If that statement was really made, then I would like to ask if that statement was made because the quality of the U.S. troops stationed here in Japan differs from those stationed in South Korea or in the Philippines, or did that statement imply that the possible quantitative reduction can be made up by the qualitative improvement? For example, the replacing of the Midway with the Independence shortly.

And the third question if I may continue, Mr. Secretary. Prior to starting your journey to three countries in the Far Eastern region this time, you had held a press conference in Washington, D.C., and it was also reported here, indicating that the Secretary had mentioned that there is no need for Japanese Self Defense Forces to build up further its defense capability strength. And, rather, it would be preferable for Japan to spend more money on the ODA to be directed to the Philippines and other countries. However, in today's speech the Secretary had indicated that Japan perhaps should continue its efforts to further build up her self defense capabilities. So, perhaps there might have been some difference in nuance from what you have mentioned prior to coming here and the statement you made today. Since you are the person who had actually made that statement, I would like to confirm which is the case. And I would be willing to know your real intention which goes beyond the official principle of Japan making preferably voluntary efforts to further build up her defense capability.

A: Let me touch on those different points, if I can, briefly. We have discussed numbers with our allies here in Japan and in Korea and the Philippines, but on a consultative basis. We've talked about a range of numbers. It is modest. It is on the order of approximately 10 percent scattered across the region. To be more precise than that at this point I think would do violence to our desire to consult and to have our military officials actively involved in deciding which specific modifications ought to be made in force structure. That's something that will be decided in consultation with our allies.

Secondly, the timeframe we're talking about for that first phase is approximately three years.

Third, it is my intention to the extent possible, and I think it will be possible, to essentially preserve our combat capability by restructuring and making more efficient and improving the quality of the forces that remain. The swap of the Independence for the Midway is a good example. The Independence has a larger air wing, more aircraft on it. It's a more capable carrier. So, even though we're bringing out the old system, the new one

GE 3 epf506 that's coming in to replace it -- or the newer one that's coming in to replace it -- does include greater capability.

With respect to the need for Japan to build up forces, my comments previously before I began on the trip were, as I recall, in response to the question of whether or not I supported the notion that there should be a massive rearming, if you will, of Japan as some Americans have suggested in the past. I indicated that I did not think that was required or appropriate, that I did support, do support, the efforts of the Japanese government to improve their overall capabilities and we also, obviously, have discussed and will continue to work on ways for Japan and others to improve their host nation support of those U.S. forces that are stationed here.

Q: Mike Tharp, U.S. News and World Report. Mr. Secretary, elsewhere in Asia did you sense any growing concern on the part of other Asian nations about a possible revival of Japanese militarism, or arms build-up? Do you think that is, if so, a realistic possibility? What do you think of this prospect?

A: I did not sense that concern. The subject never came up during my conversations with others in my travels through the region. My sense of it is, obviously the Japanese government can speak for itself, but we have a very good strategy, a very good mutual security agreement at present, where we both contribute as we are best able to contribute, and I think that provides adequate security both for the United States and for Japan... (inaudible)

Q: Kubota from Asahi Shimbun. First question: You have indicated that at this present moment in time, there have been no signs which would indicate the lessening of the Soviet threat in the Asia-Pacific region. But what is your outlook into the future? Do you foresee (that) the threat from the Soviet Union in the area of Asia and the Pacific will decline?

And the second question is related to security. The environment of the European countries as opposed to the Asia and Pacific region is quite different from each other (sic). However, in developing further disarmament as well as building confidence, is there any framework that the Secretary has in mind for consultation, and if such a framework exists, what would be the initiative that the U.S. government will take?

A: On the first question, concerning the possibility that in the future there will be reduced threat from the Soviets in Asia, that's, I think, to be hoped for. I've tried to indicate some of those items that we think would move us in that direction in my remarks, the speech. I'm reluctant to make hard and fast predictions about what will transpire in the Soviet Union in the future, given the significant changes of the last few years. But clearly, if we see a continuation of the trends of the last few years, I think we can hope that perhaps ultimately there will be improvements in Asia.

With respect to the appropriate forum to address some of these concerns, what happens at present is that the

GE 4 epf506 United States, President Bush, Secretary Baker and myself raise these issues that are of importance in our conversations with Mr. Gorbachev and his colleagues. So issues such as the question of Japan's northern territories, or North Korea's refusal, so far, to comply with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty are raised with the Soviets as items of concern to us and to our allies, (among them?) Japan. And I would expect that this is apt to continue.

Q: I'm Kunie from Kyodo Press. I have a question as to how much expense should be borne by the Japanese side for supporting U.S. troops stationed in Japan. Mr. Secretary has visited many countries in Eastern Asia this time, including South Korea, and when the Secretary was in South Korea it was reported that the United States specifically requested South Korea to double the expense burden of South Korea which now stands at 300 million dollars; and the request was made that it should be increased by double. However, according to the reporting here in Japan, after a series of meetings with important people in Japan it was said the Secretary did not make any specific request to Japan asking Japan to bear more of the expense concerned in supporting the U.S. troops in Japan. And the Secretary went as far as to just express the expectation that perhaps that would be the case but no special request has been made. So, I would like to know from Mr. Secretary what would be the most desirable form through which Japan can bear those expenses, and how much would it be likely for Japan, or to see Japan desirable to bear the expense.

And it seems that recently there has been a division of views within the U.S. administration that some circle of people demands that Japan should spend much more money in bearing those expenses and the other party expressed that if Japan fully bears the costs associated with the maintenance of the U.S. troops here, then that would lead to Japan's increase of say in the Asia-Pacific region which might not be good. So, there seem to be contrasting views existing simultaneously within the U.S. administration. Under these circumstances, what would be your view as to how Japan should deal with these issues? Do you think Japan should consider the increase in bearing of the expense and how should it be done? I would like to know your real intention.

A: We would like as much support as we can get from Japan. I would note that Japan has significantly increased in recent years its host nation support for U.S. forces. We think that is a very positive trend and we will continue to work with our Japanese allies to expand that level of support. The actual arrangements in dollar amounts, of course, are to be negotiated between our two governments. We've made clear our general desires. I note, if press reports are to be believed -- one of the newspapers this morning quotes the prime minister as indicating he is interested in such an effort. In terms of a division within the administration, I don't believe there is any. I

GE 5 epf506 think you will find that the U.S. government is strongly supportive of the positions that I have discussed with our allies in the Pacific. Those positions were developed through the decision-making processes of the National Security Council in Washington and I think accurately reflect the administration view. And that view is that we would like to encourage our allies to do more by way of supporting, both in Korea and in Japan, the U.S. presence there. And we think, given the economic circumstances, they are able to do that. And while we are grateful for past support, we look forward to increased support in the future.

Q: Mr. Secretary, I'm Charles Aldinger of Reuters. One assumes that you are speaking for the Bush administration when you say that we will not be guided by a sense of euphoria and that decisions will be based on strategy rather than budget. Are you guaranteeing that Congress, given the choice between the B-2 and two nuclear missiles, and higher pay for American troops, will not perhaps force you to make cuts of 20 or even 30 percent in Asia?

A: Mr. Aldinger, having served 10 years in the House of Representatives, I am confident Congress will do the right thing. (Laughter) I think that, while Congress obviously is contemplating reductions in the defense budget, and we are recommending significant reductions as a result of our hope for conventional force agreements in Europe, and we are making reductions in the United States in forces committed to go to Europe in wartime, and once an agreement is complete we'll draw down force levels in Europe as well, there has been no equivalent change in Asia to the collapse of the Warsaw Pact in Europe and it is my hope and my belief that the Congress of the United States recognizes that fact and will support the president's budget and his proposal, which will retain the major U.S. presence in the Pacific.

Q: My name is Christopher Field. I report on Fuji Television. My question to you has to do with economic friction -- you mentioned that in your talk a little bit. It happens that right now the Structural Impediment talks are going on at the same time that you're here, and a Japanese theme, I believe, in those talks is the inadequacy of American research and development as compared to Japan. And in fact, we are bombarded almost daily with stories that talk about the widening gap in technological development on the part of our two countries' industries. It's said from time to time that the American defense establishment in all its forms absorbs something like a third to a half of America's science and engineering resources. So my question to you is, in the context of this competition with Japan and other countries for the economic security of the United States, isn't it going to be necessary to massively redeploy these defense resources into more public or industrial, commercial applications. What's your view of that?

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A: The budget that we have submitted to the Congress calls for a significant reduction in real terms in defense spending over the next five years if current favorable trends continue, if we get an arms control agreement on conventional forces, if we get a S.T.A.R.T. agreement with the Soviet Union. By 1995, we will be spending 21 percent of our federal budget on defense, about four percent of gross national product on defense, if current trends continue. That will be the lowest level of defense spending as a percentage of GNP or as a percentage of the federal budget since before World War II. So we are prepared to make significant changes in our allocation of resources if current favorable trends continue, I would emphasize. I do not believe that four percent of our gross national product is an excessive burden for our economy to bear. I think a lot of the research and development that we've done in the defense area over the years has had very significant applications in other areas for the United States. So, I don't believe that we are faced with the kind of dilemma that is implied in the question you ask.

Q: Gerhardt H. of Suddeutsche Zeitung of West Germany. You have already indicated that you are not in favor, necessarily, of a massive increase in Japanese defense and in that case you mentioned that you were referring to American views that were demanding this. I suppose you were referring to this resolution passed in the Congress -- I don't know if it was the Senate or the House or both -- asking Japan to increase defense spending from the current one to a three percent GNP level and at the same time do the same with the ODA -- development aid -- I don't know if it's just ODA or general economic aid. My first question would be: How serious do you take this resolution? Is it something to be reckoned with in political terms, or is this more of a sudden outburst and not really serious business because, in fact, it would mean tripling Japanese defense outlays which would be something very significant and I think would raise a lot of political questions in this region also?

My second question would be: To get a process of disarmament or something like this started in the East which might, even if it is not equivalent to Europe's, still in a similar direction, would probably require some signals to be given from some sides. In this respect, I think one signal would be what Japan is doing in its defense policy and, as I understand, the next budget plan calls for another increase of 6.1 percent I believe of the Japanese defense budget. Do you think it is wise to continue, shall we say, this high level of 6-percent-plus increases, or would you think it is a good idea to maybe prompt the other side to respond if you could still, shall we say, if the Japanese could still carry on of course their regular increased programs but maybe give some sort of signal by reducing the increase rate to 5 percent or so. Do you think anything like this should be happening or do you feel as the American Secretary that you don't want to comment on this at all?

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A: Yes. (Laughter) -- with respect to the congressional resolution calling for 3 percent of GNP, Congress passes lots of resolutions. Some are more serious than others. I think there is a general view in the United States that people believe Japan should do more with respect to security and national defense. But there is a substantial body of opinion, and I include myself in this camp, that something like an increase up to 3 percent of GNP would indeed be excessive, might well be destabilizing. With Japan now spending approximately 1 percent of GNP on defense it is already close to being the third highest in terms of absolute spending, and the best way for the Japanese to contribute to mutual security, in addition to the kind of growth that they've had in the budget in recent years to improve their own capabilities or undertake projects like the FSX, is to have Japan increase host nation support for U.S. forces stationed here. I think that those kinds of increases that we have seen are justified, and I have indicated that to our Japanese hosts. I don't think though to go to 3 percent of GNP would do anything other than to lead, I would assume, to big political problems inside Japan and potentially be destabilizing in the Pacific.

Q: Ms. Murakami(?) of Asia Week magazine. Mr. Secretary, I am interested in your proposal that the Soviet Union should return the northern territories to Japan. My question is: Do you think it is more likely to happen now, today, than before; and do you see any changes in Soviet initiative on this issue, and what kind of impact do you think it will have if it happens?

A: I mentioned the northern territories because I think they continue to be an example of old thinking by the Soviets about foreign policy. I would think that, given the developments of the last few years and the apparent desire of the Soviet government to improve their relationships with many of us in the democratic camp that the prospects may be increased for a successful resolution of that issue. It is obviously an issue that I would expect will be pursued by the government of Japan in their bilateral relationships with the Soviets. But, as I mentioned before, the United States also pursues it in our discussions with the Soviets. I would think that such a development would have a positive impact and would be evidence that the Soviets are serious about trying to improve their overall posture and image in this part of the world.

(end transcript) NNNN

File Identification:  02/23/90, EP-506
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Document Type:  TRA
Thematic Codes:  140; 1AC; 1DE
Target Areas:  EA
PDQ Text Link:  129881