Defense Minister's Remarks

Statement made by H.E. Mr. Akinori Eto, Senior Vice Minister for Defense, at the Joint Press Conference after the JFTM-1

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,

Today, under this brightest and bluest sky, and on this beautiful island of Kauai, I am happy to stand with Lt. General Henry Obering III, Director of the United Stated Missile Defense Agency to announce the completion of the cooperative Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) intercept flight test, off the coast here in Hawaii. This was a monumental event in the Japan-U.S. security relationship, showcasing the results of our two countries' ongoing technological and operational cooperation and, more importantly, the ongoing transformation of our alliance to meet the new demands of the international and regional security environment.

Today's event, designated Japan Flight Test Mission 1 (JFTM-1), marked the first time that a U.S. allied naval ship successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target with the sea-based midcourse engagement capability provided by the Aegis BMD system.

The event marked the fourth time that Japan has participated in an Aegis BMD flight test, but JFTM-1 was the first time that a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ship fired the interceptor missile. This test demonstrated missile defense interoperability between our two countries and represents a major milestone in the growing BMD cooperation between Japan and the U.S.

JDS KONGO will arrive in Japan with a tested and operational Aegis BMD system that gives Japan a proven midcourse engagement capability against the increasing ballistic missile threat present in the region.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The JDS KONGO, now an Aegis BMD-Capable Destroyer, with the help of the SM-3 Missiles, will provide protection to the people in Japan from the ballistic missile threat in the region, which will certainly enhance the security of Japan by providing a reliable defense asset and deterrent in the region.

I would like to emphasize once again that today's test is a part of the evolution of the close Japan-U.S. defense partnership that includes Ballistic Missile Defense. Today's test enhanced the capabilities of our bilateral alliance, as well as demonstrated our close operational cooperation, such as, strengthened interoperability and integration of our respective armed forces, and expansion of bilateral roles and missions of both countries. More than ever, today's test further proved that the evolving Japan-U.S. alliance is the indispensable foundation of not only Japan's security, but also for the maintenance of peace and security in the Far East.

Finally, I would like to conclude my statement by expressing my deep appreciation for the hard work by all of the uniformed and civilian staff of both countries, whether in Tokyo, in Hawaii and other locations, that went into today's BMD test. I am confident that we could not have witnessed today's success without those precious efforts.

Thank you.