Ambassador Thomas S. Foley's Remarks to the U.S.-Japan Common Agenda Open Forum

Takanawa Prince Hotel
Tokyo, Japan

March 12, 1998

(As prepared for delivery)

President Carter, Foreign Minister Obuchi, Deputy Foreign Minister Haraguchi, Mr. Hiraiwa, Ambassador Babbitt, Ambassador Sherman, distinguished guests:

I would like to thank all of you here today for coming, many from afar, to join together in this Common Agenda Open Forum. The bilateral Common Agenda initiatives plenary meeting conducted yesterday by American and Japanese officials marked the fifth anniversary of this unique joint effort to address global problems. The next two days of Open Forum discussions will be invaluable in developing new ideas for future cooperation between our governments, the private sector, including NGOs, and other nations in the very important areas of health and conservation. Only through such efforts can we prepare ourselves and our planet for the 21stcentury.

The next century will challenge us all to tackle tough problems such as promoting democracy and free markets, combating terrorism, fighting the scourge of addictive drugs, dealing with disasters both natural and man-made, and protecting the environment. We have over the past 50 years developed new ways to move people, goods and information quickly over great distances, enabling Americans, Japanese and many others to reach unprecedented levels of health and prosperity. The U.S. and Japan are working together and with others to find solutions for problems that are global in scope, by using amazing tools like the space shuttle and the U.S.-Japan TRMM satellite launched last November.

Our new technologies have ended the isolation imposed on our ancestors by great oceans and continents. At the same time, the ease of modern transportation has given new urgency to address in global issues, because disease and illegal drugs, for example, can travel as fast as medicine or emergency relief aid - perhaps even faster.

The power of the American and Japanese economies gives us a special moral obligation to lead and the ability to do a very great deal. Nevertheless, we also know that in a time of reduced government budgets we must take advantage of the synergies of cooperation to stretch assistance funds as far as possible and to involve the private sector - business and NGOs - in this effort.

The U.S.-Japan Common Agenda initiatives are a unique series of undertakings to do just that. Through these initiatives, the U.S. and Japan - major economic and technological powers - are cooperating to solve major global problems. We have brought together not only a wide variety of our government agencies, but also business, international organizations and NGOs in dozens of areas.

We are all cooperating around the globe on projects that bring together resources, experience and knowledge to eradicate Guinea worm and polio, protect the environment, fight AIDS, and miti gate the damage from earthquakes and oil spills, to name just a few. This Common Agenda Open Forum will, I hope, not only lead to new ideas, but also bring to the public's attention the extremely important areas in which we are working with each other to further global prosperity. Of particular importance will be new ways of increasing cooperation between the public and private sectors, including NGOs, as well as meeting the challenge of focusing on undertakings which will have a multiplier effect and improve the lives of ever-larger numbers of people and nations.

I would like to thank the Government of Japan for hosting this important meeting - and to thank again all of you here today for coming. I look forward to the results of this Open Forum and appreciate all you have done and will be doing to improve this planet of ours.