By Karen Kelley, Press Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo

Secretary Kerry at Zozoji Shrine

On Sunday, April 14, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Tokyo to begin his first visit to Japan as Secretary of State, following stops in Beijing and Seoul, and, earlier, London and the Middle East. En route to downtown Tokyo, the Secretary’s motorcade made a brief stop at historic Zojoji Temple. Founded in 1393, Zojoji served as the Tokugawa Shogun’s family temple during Japan’s Edo period. Secretary Kerry and his delegation walked the idyllic temple grounds and briefly stopped at the cedar tree planted by former U.S. President Grant during his 1879 visit, which stands as a symbolic reminder of our two countries’ enduring friendship and alliance.

Secretary Kerry with solar-powered car

Within an hour of touching down, Secretary Kerry connected with Japanese youths at a discussion hosted by U.S. Ambassador John Roos. The Secretary spoke with 20 students representing members of the “TOMODACHI Generation” of youth committed to strengthening the U.S.-Japan partnership. Secretary Kerry encouraged these future leaders to continue to work closely with their counterparts from the United States and other countries to devise collaborative solutions for the global challenges we face together.

Secretary Kerry with Foreign Minister Kishida

Later on Sunday, Secretary Kerry met with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and held a joint press conference before a large gathering of both local and international media. The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance to support regional peace and security, fielded questions from the press about confronting recent provocations from North Korea, and addressed global issues such as the crisis in Syria, Iran, and peace in the Middle East.On Monday, April 15, his motorcade traveled through the normally quiet streets of Meguro Ward to the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he delivered a major policy speech entitled the “21st Century Pacific Partnership.” One of Asia’s leading research institutions, Tokyo Tech boasts a high proportion of foreign students — some 13 percent — making it the perfect venue to discuss the promise of greater regional collaboration. To an audience of 600 people in the auditorium and millions more over television broadcast and live-streaming, the Secretary emphasized America’s “rebalance” in the Asia Pacific and outlined a “Pacific dream” of a secure, democratic and prosperous region.

Secretary Kerry at the Tokyo Institute of Technology

After his speech, the Secretary met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the “Kantei,” the Prime Minister’s official residence, to discuss pressing regional and global concerns, including the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, strengthening the vital U.S.-Japan security alliance, and moving forward with Japan’s interest in joining regional free trade agreement negotiations under the Trans-Pacific Partnership framework. At an afternoon gathering with Embassy Tokyo staff and family members, the Secretary praised their efforts to help the Japanese people following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, and the ensuing tsunami and nuclear accident. The Secretary thanked Ambassador Roos and the entire U.S. Mission in Japan for their efforts to nurture and deepen the vital bilateral partnership.With those words of encouragement, Secretary Kerry and his delegation headed home, completing their 10-day circuit of the globe. We look forward to the next time his official aircraft descends from the skies over Japan’s capital.




Karen Kelley, Press Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo

Karen Kelley joined the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo Press Office in June 2010, and serves as the Press Attaché. This is her fourth post in Japan; she previously served in public diplomacy positions at the Tokyo American Center, the Kansai American Center in Osaka , and the Consulate-General in Naha, Okinawa . In addition to her service in Japan, she has also served as Press Attaché at the U.S. Embassies in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and in Manila, Republic of the Philippines; Public Diplomacy Advisor at the U.S. Pacific Command headquarters in Camp H.M. Smith in Aiea, Hawaii; and Deputy Director and Acting Director in the Office of Japanese Affairs at the Department of State headquarters in Washington, D.C. Ms. Kelley is a graduate of Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in French Language and Civilization and in International Relations in the College of Arts and Sciences.