The geography of danger has shifted

Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Japan National Press Club

  • 31 Oct. 2017 -
  • |
  • Mis à jour le: 31 Oct. 2017 17:44

(As delivered)

It's a great pleasure to be here in Tokyo.
One of the world's most dynamic cities.
In one of its most dynamic countries.

I first came to Japan as a young Norwegian politician, back in 1989.
To learn about Japanese society and culture.

I realised then how much Japan and Norway have in common.
Two proud, seafaring nations.
With a strong belief in free trade and open economies.

Sharing core values.
Like democracy and individual liberty.

Since then, I've had the privilege of visiting Japan several times.
But this is my first visit to East Asia as NATO's Secretary General.

And my goal in coming here is simple.
To meet with NATO's friends in the region.

To discuss the common challenges we face.
And to explore how, together, we can overcome those challenges.


NATO is a political-military Alliance, founded almost 70 years ago.
Representing half of the world's economic might.
And half of the world's military might.

Our Alliance was born out of conflict.
But our purpose is peace.

To deter, and defend against, any threat our nations may face.

In whatever shape or form.
And from whatever direction.

For centuries, security was about meeting threats on land and at sea.
And, later, from the air.

Today, we are as likely to be attacked down fibre optic cables.
Or on our mobile devices.

The line between war and peace has become blurred.
In an age of 'hybrid' war, we may not know we have been attacked until serious damage has been done.

So, defence is no longer about just looking at a map and deciding where to place armies.

It's also about countering misinformation.
Protecting infrastructure.
Making our societies resilient to attack.

The geography of danger has shifted.

More often than not, the challenges we face are global.

International terrorism.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

For NATO to succeed in the twenty-first century, we must continually refine the way we think and work.
And that's exactly what we are doing.

Of course, NATO's chief responsibility is the security of Allied territory.
Stretching from Iceland to Italy.
And from Anchorage to Ankara.

In a globalised world, however, we are not immune to events elsewhere.
Or militarily.
Including in the Asia-Pacific region.

Historically, events here have shaped NATO profoundly.

NATO's 12 founding members signed the treaty which created the Alliance in April 1949.
A year later, the Korean Peninsula erupted into war.

The Korean War became the trigger for a complete remodelling of the Alliance itself.
Because the events of 1950 forced Allies to face up to the fact that war in Europe was still possible.

Acknowledging that reality, they transformed the North Atlantic Treaty into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Literally putting the 'O' into NATO.
Complete with a Secretary General.
A permanent military headquarters.
And a supreme Allied commander in Europe.
A post first occupied by General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The Pacific may literally be on the other side of the world from NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
But that doesn't mean we are not affected by what happens here.

In fact, two NATO Allies are Pacific nations.

We also have close partners in the region whose security matters to us.

And with whom we share strategic interests.
Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Our security is bound up with your security.
That is particularly true, of course, when it comes to North Korea.

NATO remains very concerned by Pyongyang's destabilising behaviour.
Which poses a threat to regional and international peace and security.

Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests represent a flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

North Korea is working to advance its nuclear and missile technologies.
This is a clear and present danger to Japan and to the Republic of Korea, our partners in the region.

It is also a threat to NATO Allies.

North Korea is developing ballistic missiles capable of hitting Allied cities both in North America and in Europe.
NATO takes that threat very seriously.

The Alliance maintains a strong deterrence posture.
We have the capabilities and we have the resolve to respond to any aggression.

Our position is clear:
North Korea must abandon its nuclear programme, once and for all.

It must suspend the development of ballistic missiles.

And it must refrain from further testing.

NATO strongly supports a peaceful, negotiated solution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
To achieve this, pressure is key.

North Korea must understand that there is a price to pay for its behaviour.
And that there is a real value in reaching a peaceful solution.

We call on all nations to fully and transparently implement United Nations economic sanctions.


Pyongyang's weapons programme also represents a broader challenge to non-proliferation efforts.
To which NATO is firmly committed.

Over the years, these have made significant progress.
Countries like Belarus, Kazakhstan, Libya, South Africa and Ukraine have abandoned weapons of mass destruction.

In 2010, the United States and Russia agreed to each limit their number of strategic nuclear warheads to fewer than 1,550.
Down, in the case of the United States, from a Cold War peak of more than 30,000.

NATO Allies have reduced their collectivenuclear arsenal in Europe by more than 90%.

North Korea's reckless flouting of the non-proliferation regime risks undermining all this progress.
Turning the clock back in a way that is dangerous for us all.

This is the time for the international community to convey a clear, united and strong response.
With both global and regional powers playing a constructive role in tackling the crisis.

NATO stands in full solidarity with our partners, Japan and the Republic of Korea, with whom we are working together closely.


Stability on the Korean peninsula is not the only interest we have in common with our partners here in the Asia-Pacific region.
We share a commitment to preserving the rules-based international order.
And the conditions that enable trade and commerce to flow freely, over land and sea.

Prime Minister Abe has called NATO and Japan 'natural partners'.
And he is right.

I welcome Prime Minister Abe's initiative for Japan to make a more 'proactive contribution to peace'.
And I welcome Japan playing a more active role in achieving that peace.

Japan was NATO's very first global partner.
And we have worked together on many different issues.

In the fight against terrorism.

Which Japan has supported through itscontributions to making Afghanistan a more stable and secure country.
In securing international waterways.
Which Japan has aided by fighting piracy off the Horn of Africa.

And on cyber defence.
On which NATO is beginning to work with Japan.
Exploring how we can share information and best practice.
And train together.

I believe there is now an opportunity for NATO and Japan to take our close partnership to a new level.
On issues as diverse as maritime security, fighting terrorism and disaster response.

We want to work more closely with Japan.
Because we know we will be a better, stronger, and more effective Alliance if we do.


NATO's responsibility is the security of Allied territory.
But we stand in solidarity with the Asia-Pacific region.

We want to do more with partners here.
Because the geography of danger has shifted.
And because more diverse, complex threats, require deeper, wider cooperation.

​As an Alliance we will continue to challenge ourselves.
To bring innovative thinking to global security.
To adapt whenever and however necessary.
To remain vigilant and alert.
And to work with our friends and partners.
In the relentless search for lasting peace and security.