Transcript: Ambassador Foley's Remarks to the Japan National Press Club

Speech by Ambassador Thomas S. Foley
to the Japan National Press Club
Tokyo, Japan

December 14, 1998

Thank you for that kind introduction.

It has been just over a year since I took up my duties as United States Ambassador to Japan - and almost exactly a year since I spoke with you here at the Japan National Press Club. Today I would like to review developments in U.S.-Japan relations over the past year and discuss some of the important issues our two countries will be addressing in the coming year.

During his visit to Japan last month, President Clinton spoke directly with the Japanese people and conveyed a very positive message - one of cooperation between the United States and Japan, as Japan restarts its economy, and the region as a whole moves toward recovery from the financial and economic crisis.

The United States and Japan - together accounting for 40% of the world's GNP -- have been the principal beneficiaries of the international economic and trading regime which has brought so much prosperity to so many. Today, as we face the unprecedented challenges of a global financial crisis, we have, more than ever, a special responsibility to act in ways that benefit not only our own national self-interests, but those of the region and the world as a whole.

As President Clinton noted last month, Japan has made a good beginning on restarting its economy. We welcome the steps Japan has taken, including the enactment of banking legislation - which we now hope will be implemented aggressively and transparently - and the government's submission of a new economic stimulus package. What is needed is clear: fiscal stimulus to promote growth in the near term; market-opening deregulation; improvements in the environment for domestic and foreign investment in order to provide the basis for sustained growth; and clean-up of the bad debt problem in order to remove the impediments to economic recovery. All of these actions are manifestly in Japan's own self-interest. At the same time, they also will benefit Asia, because Japan accounts for 70% of East Asia's economic activity, and only through Japan's economic expansion can other countries in the region grow out of their economic troubles.

Let me be quite clear. The United States wants an economically strong Japan. America lays no special claim to altruism; our interest in a strong Japan stems from a simple calculus, as stated by the President in his town hall meeting last month: "Our country is strengthened if Japan is very strong, because if Japan is very strong, that brings back Asia. If Asia is strong, that is good for the American economy."

Our two nations clearly have a common interest in leading the region out of the present crisis and into a prosperous 21st century. We have already made extremely significant contributions to help stem the Asian financial crisis and provide the basis for economic recovery in the region. Japan and the United States have given tens of billions of dollars in assistance, and together we have recently announced a $10 billion joint initiative for Asian Growth and Recovery.

We welcome Japan's willingness to provide substantial financial assistance through the Miyazawa Plan to countries in Asia attempting to recover from the current crisis. One of the objectives of the Miyazawa Plan is to support corporate and financial restructuring in Asia, and the United States has been actively working with Japan, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank to design a broader Asian Growth and Recovery Initiative in an effort to accelerate the pace of restructuring in the region and hasten the restoration of growth.

As countries in the region take the hard steps toward recovery, however, we also need to demonstrate an increased concern for those who are suffering, by helping countries build social safety nets to mitigate the effect of the economic crises on their most vulnerable people. With that objective in mind, Secretary of State Albright proposed at the APEC meeting in Kuala Lumpur the establishment of an ad hoc Task Force on the Social Framework for Growth. Secretary Albright's initiative recognizes that we need to do more, for example, to assist children by expanding educational opportunity and helping students stay in - or return to - school; and do more to help businesses - especially small and medium-sized enterprises - obtain credit and create jobs.

Trade liberalization can also form an essential part of the solution to the region's economic problems. We will continue to work with our Japanese friends to further open Japan's market through full implementation of our trade and government procurement agreements, vigorous deregulation of Japan's economy, and improvements in the environment for foreign direct investment in Japan.

The bilateral trade imbalance between our two countries is rising again. The growing imbalance clearly increases the chances that trade frictions will erupt next year. However, trade confrontation is not inevitable if both governments are committed to working positively and quickly to address and resolve trade differences before they can become trade conflicts.

Next year we will see even greater emphasis on U.S.-Japan cooperation in multilateral efforts to promote trade and investment liberalization. We look forward to working constructively with Japan to fulfill our joint commitment from APEC to reach agreement in the WTO on the complete APEC liberalization package by the end of 1999. We will also be working closely with Japan, as well as with our other major trading partners, on the important work of launching a new round of trade talks at the WTO Ministerial to be held in the US next November.

But it is not enough for us merely to have the right economic policies. It is also necessary that there be close cooperation between the United States and Japan on matters of security. In its most fundamental sense, the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty provides not only for the security of Japan, but underwrites peace and stability throughout Asia.

During the past year, we have taken a number of steps to strengthen our bilateral security cooperation. In April, for example, we amended our Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement to provide the mechanism by which our forces can coordinate logistics requirements not only for training, UN peacekeeping, and international relief operations, but also in the event of regional contingencies. Looking ahead, we await early passage of the Guidelines-related legislation, now before the Diet, which will provide the framework for our forces to work together even more effectively.

The security we enjoy does not come without cost. It requires the forward deployment of American forces, and that means a U.S. military "footprint" in Japan. We take seriously our responsibility to be good neighbors, and we will continue to cooperate with the Japanese Government to reduce potential points of friction. With regard to Okinawa, as the President said last month, we recognize the special challenge that our forces present and we are committed to a process that will ease the burden on the Okinawan people. Specifically, this means implementing the agreements on facility relocations, consolidations, and reductions that were agreed to in the final report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa, or SACO.

We must keep in mind, however, that the role of our forces is to maintain the peace, and that in order to fulfill that mission, they must be ready. Readiness, in turn, requires training. We have done a great deal already to reduce the impact of our training activities by relocating artillery training off Okinawa and conducting the vast majority of carrier night landing practice on Iwo Jima. There are limits on the degree to which essential training can be adjusted. Nevertheless, within those limits, we will continue to work with the Japanese Government to decrease points of friction and adjust operational and administrative procedures in a manner consistent with our responsibilities under the Security Treaty.

There are some who would argue that, because there is no immediate threat to peace in the region, the U.S. military presence in Japan is no longer needed. Such a view is mistaken.

The Korean Peninsula remains divided and tense, and North Korean behavior-- most notably its launch of a ballistic missile over Japan and suspicious underground construction activity - is of ongoing concern to us all. The future holds yet other uncertainties: internal developments and external policies of key regional players could move in unpredictable directions; territorial issues, often related to an increasing competition for resources, remain unresolved; and destabilizing arms acquisitions are of concern.

The key to maintaining stability in the region, and to meeting any future challenges, will therefore continue to be the U.S.-Japan security relationship and the forward deployment of U.S. forces in Asia. Our alliance and partnership, however, are based on a wide range of common interests, not common enemies. These interests include engaging China, fostering peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and supporting the democratization of Russia. They also include helping the nations of Southeast Asia advance their economic and democratic institutions, ensuring free navigation through the region's sea-lanes, and halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Let me take this opportunity to discuss a few of these interests - and review our cooperative efforts - in more detail.

As we look around the region, to begin with, Japan and the U.S. share an interest in China's continued stability, increased prosperity, and movement toward openness and democracy. A constructive engagement with China will be vital to future regional stability, but, as we have made clear, our engagement with China is not the same thing as endorsement of China's policies. It was with this understanding that President Clinton visited China in June, where he made clear our concerns on human rights, market opening, environmental issues, and proliferation, all of which are shared concerns of our friends in the region, including Japan.

That trip led to some talk earlier this year about so-called "Japan passing" - the notion that enhanced U.S. ties with China might be forged at the expense of our relationship with Japan. On the contrary, I say that engagement with China is a win-win situation: improved U.S. relations with China benefit Japan's own relations with Beijing and vice-versa. Still, at the end of the day, no matter what the state of U.S. relations with China, Japan is - and will remain - America's closest ally in Asia. There should be no doubt about that.

Moving on elsewhere in the region, nowhere, perhaps, are our interests more in common and our cooperation more vital than on the Korean Peninsula.

Together with South Korea, U.S. and Japanese support for the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) remains a key element in the Agreed Framework as we pursue the goals of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. At the same time, both the United States and Japan support President Kim Dae Jung's policy of engagement with the North in an effort to reduce tensions. We are also working closely with South Korea to help it rebound from the economic downturn and financial crisis. Japan's bilateral relationship with South Korea has never been better. The extremely successful visit to Japan of President Kim and the ministerial meetings which took place recently in Kagoshima clearly mark a new, cooperative, and forward-looking relationship. We strongly welcome these improved ties between our two treaty allies in Northeast Asia.

In Southeast Asia, the United States and Japan have a common strategic interest in the restoration of stability in Indonesia. We deplore the recent violence which has taken place there. Japan's economic and developmental assistance to Indonesia this past year exceeded that of any other country. And Japan's contributions will be just as important in the coming year as the Indonesian people prepare for elections set for June 7 which, hopefully, will provide the basis for a return to stability and economic recovery. The U.S. and Japan have both underscored the necessity of sticking with the election timetable in Indonesia, and we will all have to work together to support the forces of moderation and democracy in the run-up to them.

Finally, let me mention our complementary efforts and common interests in Cambodia. It was Japan's four-part plan that led to successful, fair elections there this past July - which, in turn, paved the way for formation last month of a coalition government. While we will be watchful as this fledgling government begins to tackle the problems facing Cambodia, we salute Japan for its leadership in helping to end the cycle of violence and repression that has afflicted Cambodia for the past generation.

In conclusion, the past year has been marked by extraordinary cooperation between the United States and Japan on the widest range of problems. To be sure, at times, there have been some differences between us on individual issues. But overall, we can point to a solid record of achievement in addressing matters of common concern to our two peoples. As we look ahead, in the months leading up to Prime Minister Obuchi's visit to Washington in May, we need to continue to build on this foundation of cooperation.

In this holiday season, as we approach the new year, it is traditional for Americans to make resolutions about what we hope to accomplish in the coming year. In that spirit, I would like to set out some specific areas where I look for our two countries to work together over the coming months.

-- Restoring economic growth in Japan is critical, and we will support the Japanese Government's commitment to take all necessary measures to solve the bad debt problem and restore the economy to a path of sustainable growth. Important to that process will be continued regulatory reform.

-- Among regional issues, the one of most immediate concern to us will be continued pursuit of peace on the Korean Peninsula. The commitments of the United States, Japan, and South Korea to the KEDO process remain critical to engagement with North Korea. In that regard, we look forward to Diet authorization of the necessary funds for Japan's contribution to the crucial Light Water Reactor project.

-- Finally, for our bilateral security relationship and, indeed, for stability throughout the region, nothing will be more important during the coming months than enactment of the Guidelines-related legislation.

As President Clinton said during his recent visit to Tokyo, "The relationship between our two countries has always been important, but never more important than now." I would only add that the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship is certain to grow over the coming year, as we meet - together in partnership - the challenges that the future brings.

Thank you.

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