Japanese PM, US CNO Discuss Maritime Cooperation

By Michelle Howard
Thursday, May 29, 2014
(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Peter D. Lawlor)

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, May 27 in Abe's office to discuss regional security and maritime partnership opportunities between the United States and Japan.

The meeting between Japan's political leader and the U.S. Navy service chief underscored the importance each nation places on maintaining their strong maritime relationship to achieve strength and stability in the region through cooperative efforts.

"Given the increasingly severe security environment in the Asia-Pacific region the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance has become even greater than ever," Abe said. "Through your visit I understand that we'll see further collaboration between the [Japan] Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) as well as the U.S. Navy and that would mean of course the alliance between Japan and the United States. I believe that would have a positive impact on the peace and stability of the entire Asia-Pacific region."

During the meeting, Abe explained that Japan's political leadership has been examining the relationship between their constitution and the right of collective self-defense and other issues that would enable Japan to more swiftly and efficiently contribute to regional and global peace and stability.

Japan's consideration and debate of exercising the right of collective self-defense has been followed with interest by Greenert. He stated from his viewpoint collective self-defense provides greater opportunity for more effective operational cooperation among critical allies, which is key to maintaining the security of Northeast Asia.

On another topic, Abe stated that following President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo in April Obama's public reaffirmation of the United States' position to uphold an existing defense treaty with Japan was meaningful to promoting stability in the region and bringing the two ally nations closer together.

Greenert, having lived and served in Japan, said he understands the significance of the Asia-Pacific, the partnerships there and the significance of the alliance between the United States and Japan. Greenert added that as the CNO for nearly the past three years he has enjoyed a close relationship with his counterpart in the JMSDF, Chief of Staff Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, and that the two will continue to bring their navies together while he is at the helm.

"I commit to you and the Kaijo Jieitai [JMSDF] and to Japan that through the remainder of my tour I will work as hard as possible to make the alliance even that much more stronger," Greenert said.

Statements like that backed by action are what earned Greenert Japan's Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun medal, which he was presented a day earlier by Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera during a series of office calls with Japanese political and military leaders at the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

Greenert said he humbly accepted the honor on behalf of the great men and women who make up the Navy for it is they who are the lifeblood and spirit of the organization.

Greenert is in Japan at the invitation of Kawano for a counterpart visit to enhance cooperation between the two Navies. While in Japan Greenert will also meet with service members during two fleet engagement activities at Yokosuka Naval Base and Naval Air Facility Atsugi where he will have a chance to talk to and hear from Sailors, civilians and family members during all-hands calls at each location.

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