Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota

Vice President of the United States Michael Pence addresses service members at a troop talk at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 8, 2018. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, met with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota

Vice President of the United States Michael Pence addresses service members at a troop talk at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 8, 2018. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, met with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota

Vice President of the United States Michael Pence addresses service members at a troop talk at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 8, 2018. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, met with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota

Vice President of the United States Michael Pence addresses service members at a troop talk at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 8, 2018. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, met with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota

Vice President of the United States Michael Pence addresses service members at a troop talk at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 8, 2018. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, met with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota

Airmen with the 374th Airlift Squadron and Japanese Air Self Defense Force wait and watch for the arrival of Vice President Michael Pence, before a troop talk, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The Vice President held a troop talk with U.S. and Japanese military members to start off his tour of the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota

Vice President Michael Pence addresses service members during a troop talk, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. During his talk, Pence highlighted the importance of the alliance between the U.S. and Japan for maintaining stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota

Vice President of the United States Michael Pence addresses service members at a troop talk at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 8, 2018. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, met with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota

Vice President of the United States Michael Pence takes photos with troops, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meet with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence takes a photo with a Japan Air Self-Defense Force member, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meet with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence and the departure party walk through the DV Garden, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meet with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence looks at crowd while waiting to go onstage for a troop talk, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. During the speech Pence spoke to the importance of a strong Japanese-U.S. relationship to help ensure stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence and wife Karen walk on stage together for a troop talk, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. During the speech Pence spoke to the importance of a strong Japanese-U.S. relationship to help ensure stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence shakes hands with Lt. Gen. Hiroaki Maehara Air Defense Command commander, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meet with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence meets with leadership of United States Forces Japan, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meet with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence speaks during a troop talk, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. During the speech Pence spoke to the importance of a strong Japanese-U.S. relationship to help ensure stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence and wife Karen wave good-buy before boarding Air Force Two, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meet with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence speaks during a troop talk, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. During the speech Pence spoke to the importance of a strong Japanese-U.S. relationship to help ensure stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence waves to the crowd after a troop talk, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. During the speech Pence spoke to the importance of a strong Japanese-U.S. relationship to help ensure stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Vice President Michael Pence Addresses Troops at Yokota
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Vice President of the United States Michael Pence poses for a photo with Mitsunari Okamoto Parliamentary Vice-Minster for Foreign Affairs, Feb. 8, 2018, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. While in Japan, Pence visited Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meet with troops, and addressed Yokota Air Base service members before heading to South Korea for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson)

Yokota Air Base --

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Vice President Michael R. Pence addressed nearly two thousand U.S. service members and members of the Japan Air Self Defense Force here today, in a speech highlighting U.S. military strength, new capabilities and messages of reassurance to allies Japan and South Korea.

The vice president’s remarks, delivered in a cavernous C-130 hanger while flanked with a pair of sleek F-35A Lightning II fighter jets, were part of a three-day visit to Tokyo, where he met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, and other senior Government of Japan officials. Following the address at Yokota, Pence flew to South Korea, where he will lead the official U.S. delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang.

“Yokota Air Base demonstrates in fact and deed that the full range of the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the United States are dedicated to our common defense,” Pence said. “And all across these lands, and seas, and skies, America’s matchless strength is on full display.”

The vice president extolled the progress made over the past 70 years in the Indo-Pacific region under the steady hand of American influence, including millions lifted out of poverty and unprecedented achievements in commerce and cooperation. But he was quick to call out those who threaten this record of progress with tyranny and violence.

“North Korea’s tyrants have never been content to merely subjugate their own people,” he said. “They still harbor the dream of conquering their neighbors to the south – and in recent years, North Korea has threatened the United States, Japan, and our allies and partners across the region.”

Pence leavened his criticism of the North Korean regime with words of compassion for its people, who have suffered under the Kim dynasty since the partition of Korea following World War II. He recited a litany of human rights violations and abuses by the regime, including the 100,000 laboring in modern-day gulags, as well as the deprivation suffered by the North Korean people while their rulers prosper.

“In the 1990s alone, more than a million North Koreans perished from starvation,” he said, a reference to the 1994-1998 North Korean famine. “[T]o this day, 70 percent of the entire nation – some 18 million people – need food aid to survive. And tragically, nearly three out of every 10 North Korean children under the age of five [years old] have been physically stunted by malnourishment. They will bear the mark of their regime’s brutality until the day they die.”

Prior to addressing service members, Pence visited the headquarters of U.S. Forces, Japan, where he met with USFJ senior leadership and received a brief on regional security issues from the commander, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez. Martinez, the senior U.S. military officer in Japan, discussed the state of the U.S.- Japan alliance and highlighted the deep cooperation between the two nations in confronting shared threats.

“This week marks the third visit by our president or vice president to Japan in less than a year,” said Martinez. “The vice president’s visit here is yet another demonstration of the United States’ enduring commitment to our allies in the region. It was an honor to host him and have him spend some time with the dedicated men and women who are here defending the U.S. and Japan.”

Following his meeting with the USFJ staff, the vice president toured the USFJ operations center and visited the Japan Air Self Defense Force’s Air Defense Command Headquarters where he learned more about U.S.-Japan bilateral cooperation and coordination for ballistic missile defense. In his discussions with the vice president, Martinez emphasized the strength of the partnership between the U.S. and Japan.

“Our Japanese counterparts are not just our great allies, and not just our great teammates, but they are truly our great friends,” said Martinez. “With them, we are proud to defend Japan.”

Vice President Pence closed his remarks in the hangar with a tribute to the service members gathered around him and recounted his own close military ties to the region – his father, Lieutenant Edward Pence, who fought in the Korean War in 1952.

“In just a few short hours, I will travel to the country that my father fought to defend,” he said, his voice thick for a moment with emotion. “There, I will pay tribute to him and all his brothers-in-arms, so many of whom gave the last full measure of devotion in the cause of freedom… And I will breathe a prayer of thanks for all of you – who follow in their footsteps – and stand sentry in our time.”