US SECDEF Indo-Pacific tour lands at Yokota Air Base June 2, 2023

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was welcomed by Team Yokota leadership and a diverse selection of U.S. military members from the area during a diplomatic visit to Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and other senior officials, as they continue talks aimed at strengthening and modernizing the U.S.-Japan Alliance May 31, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Secretary Austin spent his time at Yokota speaking with U.S. Forces Japan military members and presenting appreciation coins to superior performers before departing to Tokyo via UH-60L Blackhawk helicopters from the U.S. Army Aviation Battalion, Camp Zama, Japan.

“Increasingly, we (the U.S. and Japan) are working together more,” Secretary Austin said. “When you talk about interoperability, it’s not about just having a common platform, the same kind of vehicle or aircraft, you also need the same policies and procedures to be able to work with one another and you’ve got to develop trust.”

Secretary Austin commented that the government of Japan has responded to increased regional security concerns in the past year by effectively doubling their defense investments and deepening defense ties to U.S. and Indo-Pacific allies in order to further their capabilities.

“We’re working to increase that in-person contact to develop greater trust,” Secretary Austin said. “There will be more exercises happening in the region to help develop our partnership.”

The diplomatic visit is an important stride in modernizing U.S.-Japan Alliance capabilities, optimizing U.S. force posture in the region, and to build links with like-minded partners following the historic U.S.-Japan "2+2" Ministerial meeting earlier this year.