Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Releases Asia-Pacific CODEL Trip Report
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today released highlights of her recent April 18-24 trip to Japan, South Korea, and China. She joined a bipartisan congressional delegation in meetings with national leaders from the three countries and America’s ambassadors, as well as military leaders at US Pacific Command in Hawai‘i, and military commanders in Japan, South Korea, and within the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ).
“I was very fortunate to meet with the top leaders of Japan, South Korea, and China and discuss issues of mutual importance to our respective countries,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.
“American economic and defense interests are inextricably linked with Hawai‘i and the leading Asian countries we visited. My detailed congressional delegation (CODEL) report highlights the key leaders with whom we met, and the relationships we strengthened through our proactive outreach to our partners. These meetings allowed us to hear their concerns and priorities, and identify additional ways we can work together toward shared prosperity and regional stability.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
JAPAN: April 19-22
The delegation toured the USS Washington at Fleet Activities, Yokosuka (top left) and met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (bottom left). Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also met with a Hawai‘i servicemember from Maui serving on the USS George Washington (right).
“In Japan, I spoke directly with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressing our appreciation for the close working partnership we have on ballistic missile defense in light of the very real threat of a nuclear North Korea which now has missiles capable of reaching Hawai‘i. Prime Minister Abe conveyed, on behalf of the Japanese people, their commitment to the US-Japan alliance, and also expressed his deepest respect for Senator Inouye,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
“We heard from Japanese leaders about the status of plans to relocate US military basing in Japan, and concerns about regional security challenges over disputed territories in the East China Sea. A mutually beneficial agreement must be struck with participation from all stakeholders to ensure that the outcome is peaceful and productive, and that any potential conflict can be prevented.
“As I expressed to Japanese Diet members and ministers, in the past and on this trip, Hawai‘i enjoys a very special relationship with Japan. Our continued partnership and mutual respect is necessary to achieve common goals like increasing tourism, economic growth, and working together toward a peaceful and prosperous Northeast Asia.”
- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
- US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy
- Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera
- Minister of Economic Revitalization Akira Amari
- Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
- Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki
- Japan-U.S. Parliamentary League Chair Hirofumi Nakasone
- Command Brief (CNFJ ACR): US Naval Forces Japan (Rear Admiral Kraft, Captain Glenister, Commander Getschman)
- Command Brief (C7F FCR): Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet (Captain Stader, Captain Cowden, Captain Roberts, Commander Budde, Commander Garrick,, Vice Admiral Thomas)
- USS George Washington (CVN 73) Tour at Fleet Activities, Yokosuka with Rear Admiral Montgomery, Commanding Officer
- Tour of USS Shiloh (Ballistic Missile Defense Ship)
- American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) representatives
- Country Briefing
SOUTH KOREA: April 23
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard greets South Korean President Park Geun-hye and offers the sympathy of herself and all of Hawai‘i’s people for the recent ferry disaster (top). The delegation met with President Park to discuss security concerns and economic opportunity (bottom).
“I spoke with South Korean President Park Geun-hye about our mutual resolve in moving toward a denuclearized North Korea, stressing that the threats of Kim Jong-un are also felt directly by the people of Hawai‘i, and that North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile capabilities are concerns we take very personally and seriously,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
“In the face of the constant hostility from North Korean leaders for the past 60 years, the people of South Korea have forged ahead to build a robust economy and a highly respected position in the international community. While we recognize the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and prepare together to defend against these threats, the US and Korea have moved forward on other shared economic priorities, including the easing of visa restrictions to encourage tourism.
“I also had the opportunity to share, on behalf of the people of Hawai‘i, our deepest sympathies directly to President Park regarding the recent devastating ferry accident, which happened just days before we arrived in South Korea. It is unimaginable the grief and sense of helplessness the families must feel, and I am keeping them in my thoughts and prayers.
“In my first visit to the De-Militarized Zone, including the Military Demarcation Line on the border with North Korea, it was very clear that the North Korean threat of unprovoked aggression is still present. Just under 35 miles from the thriving city of Seoul, the DMZ serves as a reminder of this imminent threat and highlights the urgency and importance of maintaining our close defense partnerships in South Korea.
“Witnessing the professionalism of the Soldiers and Airmen serving in this tension-filled place was inspiring and is a testament to the quality of our military and the great men and women who sacrifice so much in volunteering to serve our nation. I was able to visit over lunch with a few of them, hear about their experiences and daily lives serving at the DMZ, as well as enjoy some light moments and a few laughs.”
- South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House
- US Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim
- General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Commander, United Nations Command / Combined Forces Command / United States Forces Korea
- DMZ tour followed by lunch with United Nations Command servicemembers
CHINA: April 24
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left), and National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee Chairman Zhang Dejiang, Vice Chairman Ji Bingxuan and Senior NPC Representatives and Committee Chairmen (top right). She also visited with US Marines at the American Embassy, including one servicemember from Hawai‘i (bottom right).
“We had the rare opportunity to meet and discuss important issues with Premier Li Keqiang. One of the most important issues I was able to discuss with the Premier, as well as leaders of the National People’s Congress, was the deep concerns the people of Hawai‘i have about North Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities, the fact that their missiles can now reach Hawai‘i, and their continued escalating threats. The need for China, as North Korea’s closest neighbor and trading partner, to take a leadership role in deterring North Korea from taking any military action, as well as moving toward denuclearization is critical. In each of our meetings, the response was one of commitment towards a denuclearized North Korea, and a desire to work with the US as partners to maintain stability in the region,”said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
“There were also discussions regarding the ongoing territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, including crucial shipping lanes, the impact they have on our shared economic and security interests, as well as energy resources. It is in the best interest of all involved stakeholders in these disputes to come to a mutual agreement that maintains stability and supports continued economic growth.
“Our relationship with China has become increasingly critical over the past two decades of economic growth, opening new doors for US-China business, tourism, and educational exchange opportunities. As we have done in South Korea and Japan, we must continue cutting the red tape for Chinese visitors, many of whom make up the country’s growing middle class. I spoke with Ambassador Max Baucus about the US Embassy’s ability to handle the exploding number of visa applications they are experiencing, and was pleased to learn that as a result of some innovative changes, turnaround times for visa processing has been reduced to days instead of weeks or months. Based on the positive impacts we have seen by instituting the visa waiver program for the other two nations, I believe we have much to gain by welcoming more Chinese tourists in Hawai‘i and across the US.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and congressional leaders visit USPACOM in Hawai‘i for a roundtable discussion with military leadership.
Prior to their departure to Asia, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and the congressional delegation met with US Pacific Command, and had a candid discussion about their area of responsibility which covers over 50 percent of the globe’s surface, and includes nearly 60 percent of the world’s population.
“The professionalism and preparedness of our US Pacific Command leadership in Hawai‘i showcased the highly capable force we have, as well as the nuanced challenges and tensions that exist within the region. In a roundtable discussion with military leaders, we candidly discussed regional defense challenges, priorities, and the fiscal situation our country faces today. Nowhere else in the world is it so clear that our economic interests are deeply impacted by potential security threats. The direct threat of a nuclear North Korea on the people of Hawai‘i and the national defense assets stationed there was very clear, as well as the need to invest and collaborate with global partners to maintain stability in the region, deter North Korea’s further aggression, and prevent other conflicts from arising,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
- Roundtable Discussion and Command Briefing with USPACOM leadership in Hawai'i
- Component Discussion (PACFLT, PACAF, USARPAC, MARFORPAC, SOCPAC)