Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi Before Their Meeting

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Tokyo, Japan

Iikura Guest House

FOREIGN MINISTER MOTEGI:  Tony and General – may I call you Lloyd?

SECRETARY AUSTIN:  Yes, please.  (Inaudible.)

FOREIGN MINISTER MOTEGI:  Welcome to Tokyo.  And I’m so glad and delighted to host a 2+2 meeting face-to-face, and for the first time in two years, and even in this COVID situation.

From here, I will speak in Japanese.

(Via Interpreter) This is the first time in history that the U.S. State Secretary and Defense Secretary have together visited Japan as their first overseas port of call after the inauguration of a new administration in the United States. This is proof of the unshakeable commitment that the two of you and the Biden administration have to the Japan-U.S. alliance and the region overall.

Last week, we marked the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11. At the time of the earthquake, the U.S. Forces in Japan dedicated themselves selflessly to Operation Tomodachi and relief work. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation once again to our American friends.

Over the past few years, the world situation has changed greatly. The strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific in particular is in a totally different dimension. There has been a change in the power balance as not only military strength but also economic development and high-tech advancements have exerted an influence on the power situation. The free and open international order is faced with major challenges, such as unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force and the expansion of authoritarianism.

The COVID-19 pandemic that broke out last year has accelerated these trends. In this context, maintaining a free and open international order based on the rule of law and ensuring regional peace, stability, and prosperity are the path and the strategic goals Japan and the U.S. must band together to pursue. From this perspective, Japan is fully committed to further strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, and we sincerely look forward to collaborating closely with both of you.

I believe the order of speakers is Minister Kishi, then Secretary Blinken, and Secretary Austin. Minister Kishi, please.

DEFENSE MINISTER KISHI: (Via Interpreter) Secretary Austin, Secretary Blinken, I would like to warmly welcome you to Japan. Minister Motegi spoke of this, but I also would like to thank you once again for the support we received from the U.S.  government and for Operation Tomodachi led by the U.S. military at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake 10 years ago. The fact that our American friends were with us and were supporting us during those difficult days is deeply etched in the hearts of the Japanese people. This experience deepened and strengthened the bonds between our two countries even more and further solidified the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Over the past 10 years, the Japan-U.S. alliance has steadily been strengthened. Our two countries have furthered our strategic dialogue and have joined hands to address security issues in the region and in the world. Moreover, Japan has created legislation for peace and security and moved forward with strengthening its own defense capabilities.

Today more than ever, the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military have become partners who can act together while protecting each other. Amid the increasingly tense security environment, however, we must further solidify the Japan-U.S. alliance. As Defense Minister, I would like to deepen discussions with both of you today on concrete initiatives that we should take to enhance our ability to deter and respond under the Japan-U.S. alliance. Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.  It is really an honor to join you, Mr. Minister, Toshi; Defense Minister Kishi, it’s very good to see you again after many years; and your friend and colleague, Secretary of Defense Austin, to be together for this 2+2 ministerial meeting.  And thank you so much to all of our hosts, and to the people of Japan for their extraordinary hospitality, as always.

Secretary Austin and I are the first members of President Biden’s cabinet to make an overseas trip.  And for that trip, we’ve come to Japan.  Because for more than 60 years, our alliance has been a cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity – not only for our two countries, but for the region, and indeed for the world.

We’re here to reaffirm our commitment to this alliance and to build upon it, to ensure that we keep delivering for our people today and into the future.  We too believe that this alliance is critical for a free and open Indo-Pacific region in which countries pursue shared objectives effectively, resolve any differences peacefully, respect international law, and use multilateral institutions to build cooperation.

We will work together on a range of issues that you both alluded to, but these are issues that are not abstractions; they actually shape the lives of our citizens.  And that’s why it’s so important that we work closely together on them, whether it’s health security, including stopping COVID-19; economic security; cybersecurity; combatting climate change.

We will continue to work together on core security issues like the denuclearization of North Korea and maritime security, and we’ll stand up for our shared democratic values, because we know that democracy and human rights are core elements of any stable and secure region.

President Biden has emphasized that our administration will lead with diplomacy.  That diplomacy that we’ll conduct here today I hope and believe will serve the people of Japan and the United States, and the people across the Indo-Pacific.  Our alliance is strong, and together we will make the region stronger.  This alliance ultimately is more than a security agreement.  It’s also a bond of friendship, trust, and respect.

As you said, Toshi, last week marked the 10th anniversary of the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami – a devastating tragedy.  The United States joins you in remembering and honoring those who were lost.

We’re proud to be your friend then, now, and in the years to come.  So thank you for receiving us today.

SECRETARY AUSTIN:  Minister Motegi, Minister Kishi, I want to thank you for your warm welcome, and I offer my profound thanks to the people of Japan for their gracious hospitality.  I am tremendously honored to join all of you here in Tokyo for my first international trip as Secretary of Defense.  I’m grateful to join my dear colleague, Secretary Blinken, as we work together to build upon the resolute and resilient bond between our two countries.

As I mentioned to Minister Kishi earlier today, the U.S.-Japan alliance is strong, and I look forward to charting a path towards continued success in the future as we work together to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific.  I am a firm believer in the notion that we are at our strongest when we work together as part of a larger team.

And that’s why we stand shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm with Japan – the cornerstone of the alliance, the Indo-Pacific, that has preserved peace and security in this region and across the globe for more than half a century.

As we lead with diplomacy on a range of issues that Secretary Blinken mentioned, I want you to know that we at the Department of Defense stand ever ready to buttress the hard work of our diplomats.  Diplomacy and defense complement one another, and together they make us stronger.

Today’s meeting is a testament to that premise, as we work together in the spirit of teamwork and cooperation to seize the shared opportunities and address our shared challenges now and in the years ahead.  We need only look at Operation Tomodachi in the wake of the 3/11 tragedy 10 years ago to give us confidence that our resolute and resilient alliance rests firmly on our bonds of friendship and shared sacrifice.

Thanks again for welcoming us today, and I look forward to a productive discussion.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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    The 24 agencies participating in the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) continue to report progress toward meeting OMB's goals for closing data centers and achieving the related cost savings. According to data submitted by the 24 agencies, almost all of them met or planned to meet their closure and cost savings goals for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. As of August 2020, the agencies reported that they expected to achieve 230 data center closures, resulting in $1.1 billion in savings, over the 2-year period. Agencies expected to realize a cumulative total of $6.24 billion in cost savings and avoidances from fiscal years 2012 through 2020. However, agencies have excluded approximately 4,500 data centers from their inventories since May 2019 due to a change in the definition of a data center. Specifically, in June 2019, OMB narrowed the definition of a data center to exclude certain facilities it had previously identified as having potential cybersecurity risks. GAO reported that each such facility provided a potential access point, and that unsecured access points could aid cyber attacks. Accordingly, GAO recommended that OMB require agencies to report those facilities previously reported as data centers so that visibility of the risks of these facilities was retained. However, OMB has not taken action to address the recommendation. Overall, GAO has made 125 recommendations since 2016 to help agencies meet their DCOI goals, but agencies have not implemented 53. The 24 agencies reported varied progress against OMB's data center optimization targets for fiscal year 2020 (see figure). Agency-Reported Progress towards Meeting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Data Center Optimization Targets, as of August 2020 Notes: Virtualization measures the number of servers and mainframes serving as a virtual host. Advanced energy metering counts data centers with metering to measure energy efficiency. A metric is not applicable if an agency does not have any agency-owned data centers or if its remaining centers are exempted from optimization by OMB. In June 2019, OMB revised the server utilization metric to direct agencies to develop their own definitions of underutilization, and then count their underutilized servers. As a result, agencies adopted widely varying definitions and were no longer required to report actual utilization, a key measure of server efficiency. In December 2014, Congress enacted federal IT acquisition reform legislation known as FITARA, which included provisions related to ongoing federal data center consolidation efforts. OMB's federal Chief Information Officer launched DCOI to build on prior data center consolidation efforts and improve federal data centers' performance. FITARA included a provision for GAO to annually review agencies' data center inventories and strategies. This report addresses (1) agencies' progress on data center closures and the related savings that have been achieved, and agencies' plans for future closures and savings; (2) agencies' progress against OMB's data center optimization targets; and (3) the effectiveness of OMB's metric for server utilization and how the agencies are implementing it. To do so, GAO reviewed the 24 DCOI agencies' data center inventories as of August 2020, their reported cost savings documentation and data center optimization strategic plans, and OMB's revised utilization metric. GAO reiterates that agencies need to address the 53 recommendations previously made to them that have not yet been implemented. GAO is making one new recommendation to OMB to revise its server utilization metric to more consistently address server efficiency. OMB had no comments on the report and the recommendation directed to the agency. Of the 24 DCOI agencies, five agreed with the information in the report, six did not state whether they agreed or disagreed, and 13 had no comments. For more information, contact Carol C. Harris at (202) 512-4456 or harriscc@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) has not routinely assessed climate-related risks faced by its contractors as part of its acquisition and supply processes, through which DOD obtains contracted goods and services. DOD's acquisition process includes long-term planning activities such as life-cycle sustainment planning. Its supply chain process includes steps to identify and assess potential disruptions, such as severe storms affecting transportation or energy systems, in order to mitigate risk. However, these processes in general do not systematically identify and consider climate-related risks to materiel acquisition and supply or the acquisition of weapon systems, according to Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and military department officials. DOD's climate change adaptation directive indicates that OSD and the military departments should include climate considerations in acquisition and supply and integrate those considerations into relevant policy and guidance. However, GAO's review of DOD and military department guidance on acquisition and supply found that the guidance did not implement DOD's climate change directive by including consideration of climate change or extreme weather. Until DOD and the military departments include these considerations in their guidance on acquisition and supply chain processes, they risk continuing to develop acquisition strategies and managing supply chains without building climate resilience into these processes and potentially jeopardizing their missions. DOD guidance requires consideration of climate-related risks as part of the mission assurance process, when appropriate. However, GAO found that the department has not assessed risks—including those associated with climate change or extreme weather—to commercially owned facilities, which can support DOD installations as well as weapon systems, as part of this process. Assessing risks to commercial facilities has been a longstanding challenge for DOD, with the department noting in 2012 that it had paid inadequate attention to challenges outside of DOD-owned facilities and citing a limited understanding of supply chain risks as a pervasive problem. DOD's mission assurance guidance includes minimum requirements for assessments of certain non-DOD-owned facilities, such as completion of an all-hazards threat assessment. However, DOD officials stated that they had not conducted such assessments. The officials noted that DOD is limited in its ability to conduct such assessments, as it does not have the same access to commercial facilities as it does to its own facilities. While DOD officials stated that they are exploring alternative ways of assessing risks to commercial facilities, they noted that these efforts are in the early stages. Without determining what approaches may be feasible for assessing risks to commercial facilities as part of the mission assurance process and issuing or updating guidance accordingly, DOD may not fully evaluate the risks to critical commercial facilities as part of the mission assurance process, leaving gaps in its knowledge of potential risks—to include climate and weather-related risks—to its ability to fulfill key missions dependent on such facilities. Since 2010, DOD has identified climate change as a threat to its operations and installations. The department relies on contracted goods and services for its mission and installations. Climate change is projected to have broad effects that could affect DOD's supply chains, and any associated risks to contractors can have an impact on DOD. One way DOD assesses risk to its missions is through mission assurance, which is a process to protect or ensure the function of capabilities and assets critical to its missions. GAO was asked to review potential threats to national security from the effects of climate change on defense contractors. GAO examined the extent to which DOD assesses the potential effects on its operations from climate change and extreme weather risks faced by its contractors through the department's (1) acquisition and supply processes, and (2) mission assurance process. GAO reviewed DOD acquisition, supply, and mission assurance documents and interviewed relevant DOD officials and contractor representatives. GAO is making six recommendations, including that DOD incorporate climate adaptation into its acquisition and supply guidance and issue or update guidance on mission assurance-related assessments for commercial facilities. DOD concurred with three recommendations and partially concurred with three. GAO continues to believe that DOD should fully implement its recommendations. For more information, contact Elizabeth A. Field at (202) 512-2775 or fielde1@gao.gov.
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    In U.S GAO News
    The Defense Health Agency (DHA)—the agency within the Department of Defense (DOD) that administers DOD's health care program, TRICARE—has identified a number of value-based initiatives for potential implementation with civilian providers and hospitals under the TRICARE program. These initiatives aim to help DHA build a value-based health care delivery system, in which providers are rewarded for value of services provided instead of volume of services provided. For these initiatives, value is generally measured in terms of improved health outcomes, enhanced experience of care for the patient, and reduced health care costs over time. GAO found that DHA has identified 20 value-based initiatives, including a program that makes incentive payments for hospitals that meet certain quality metrics for maternity services and a program that promotes adherence to medication regimens by waiving co-payments, among others. According to DHA officials, the 20 initiatives include five that have been implemented (two complete, three underway); three that will be implemented in the future—two with anticipated 2020 start dates are currently on hold due to the department's need to focus on the response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic and one that is expected to be implemented in January 2021; eight that are still under review, but no decisions have been made about whether and when they might be implemented; and four that were considered but will not be implemented. In fiscal year 2019, DOD offered health care services to approximately 9.6 million eligible beneficiaries worldwide through TRICARE, its regionally structured health care program. Beneficiaries may obtain health care services through DOD's direct care system of military hospitals and clinics or from its purchased care system of civilian providers. DOD contracts with private sector companies—referred to as managed care support contractors—to develop and maintain networks of civilian providers and perform other customer service functions for its purchased care system. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA 2017) required DOD to develop and implement value-based incentive initiatives in its TRICARE contracts. The NDAA 2017 also included a provision that required GAO to review these initiatives. This correspondence describes the initiatives DHA has developed and the status of each, as of June 2020. To do this work, GAO interviewed knowledgeable DHA officials and analyzed available documentation on each initiative, including decision papers, congressional reports, and Federal Register notices. For more information, contact Debra A. Draper at (202) 512-7114 or draperd@gao.gov.
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