Address By Ambassador Thomas S. Foley

International Christian University

October 23, 2000

Tokyo, Japan

(As prepared for delivery)

Chairman Saba, President Kinukawa, members of the faculty and student body, friends. It is indeed a pleasure to be here today. International Christian University is a very special institution with a unique history that is in many ways symbolic of the relationship between our two countries. Born of hope in the period of modern Japan's greatest despair, it was created by Americans and Japanese working together to realize shared values in the tradition of a liberal arts education rooted in the Christian tradition. Liberal arts education seeks to go beyond the mere imparting of facts and theories, of applied knowledge. Liberal arts education aims to inculcate in students an understanding of values and a commitment to higher truths that will help them to become better persons and better citizens. This is the sort of education I was fortunate enough to receive, and I believe it is in large part responsible for the deep commitment to public service that has characterized my life.

But ICU takes this tradition one step further. For not only is ICU committed to providing an education characterized by high academic standards and the teaching of values; it strives through the cooperative efforts of the entire ICU community to realize a true internationalism. It prepares its graduates to be citizens of the world. Knowing this, I am deeply honored that International Christian University has chosen to grant me the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. I know this is an honor that has been bestowed on few persons, and I am deeply touched.

Today, I would like to speak to you not only as Ambassador and chief representative of the United States in Japan. I would also like to speak to you -- and here I am referring mainly to the students - as the representative of one generation to another. And because I am nearing the close of my term in Japan as ambassador, if you will permit me, I would like to reflect a bit on the past and the future of U.S. Japan relations, particularly from the standpoint of what they mean for the students and recent graduates of ICU.

Being reflections, my comments grow out of my experiences in Japan - not only as Ambassador but also from my many times, over the years, as a visitor to Japan. For convenience let me group them into four salient aspects of the U.S.-Japan partnership: education, economic relations, security cooperation, and shared values. I recognize that our relationship has many other facets, but for this occasion, let me focus on these.


In speaking about the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship, I think it appropriate that I begin with education. That is not simply because I am today speaking at a great educational institution but because, more than most people may realize, education has been one of the oldest and most important areas in which our relationship has been nurtured and flourished. Even when difficulties flared in other areas, our educational contacts continued and helped to maintain bridges of understanding.

Perhaps it is not going too far to suggest that the first academic exchange between the United States and an Asian country occurred when a shipwrecked John Manjiro (Nakahama Manjiro) was rescued from an island in 1841 and taken to Massachussetts, where he attended the Fairhaven School. Upon returning to Japan, he was able to apply what he had learned in the U.S. to aid his government in understanding and dealing with the United States during the crucial years of the Meiji period when Japan was opening to the rest of the world. Since John Manjiro's time thousands of Japanese students have gone to the United States on exchange programs to study at American high schools, and hundreds of thousands have studied at American universities. Indeed, there are approximately 45,000 Japanese students enrolled in American universities and colleges today, the greatest number of any country. Although there have been many American students --- some of whom are here today - who have come to Japan to study, I regret that their numbers are not nearly so many. Still, those who have come - and there are many who work in our embassy and consulates here - have fallen in love with Japan and the Japanese people and have made invaluable contributions to bettering American understanding of this country.

Japan has been particularly farsighted in promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange programs for teachers. For example, through the JET program more than 1000 Americans come to Japan each year, not only to work with Japanese teachers in teaching English, but also to learn about Japan through living in a Japanese setting.

The Fulbright Program in Japan is, I believe, a perfect example of our shared tradition of promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange. Following the end of World War II, when Senator J. William Fulbright proposed the legislation that created the program named for him, he did so because he believed that there had to be some way of nurturing national leaders who had an international perspective so that we might avoid a repetition of the appalling destruction that occurred during the war. The special characteristic of his program is that it is premised on the idea of people going both ways - for example, Americans to Japan and Japanese to America - rather than simply sending Americans abroad to study or bringing people to the U.S. Since the program was founded in 1946, about 250,000 persons worldwide have participated in Fulbright exchanges. And while the program is in about 140 countries around the world, nowhere is it more active than in Japan. Both the Government of Japan and Japanese Fulbright alumni make contributions to the program, in money and time, that truly make it a binational effort in the best sense of the term. And three years ago, the Japanese government paid homage to Senator Fulbright and his vision by creating the Fulbright Memorial Fund, which each year brings several hundred American school teachers to Japan for a brief introduction to Japanese culture and society. We are grateful for the support of Japan in furthering the Senator's ideal.

These government-sponsored programs are of course important. But equally important, I think, are the exchange programs conducted by the private sector, including those administered by universities. In this regard, International Christian University is certainly a leader. From its inception, ICU has been committed to the principle of the international exchange of ideas, persons and educational opportunities. It has exchange agreements with 46 universities in 18 countries with about 80 students going abroad and 80 students coming to ICU each year - certainly an impressive set of numbers. I am pleased that 15 of those agreements are with American schools - 22 if you count the University of California campuses separately. It is an important contribution to fostering the U.S.-Japan relationship, because participants are individuals who play important roles in the U.S.-Japan relationship, for example, in economics as government negotiators or as entrepreneurs who conduct the multi-billion dollar trade and investment relationship between us.


Now, let me turn to that economic relationship. Our relationship with Japan is one of the strongest bilateral partnerships in the world. It is certainly the closest and most mature relationship we enjoy in Asia. This fact allows us to overcome the occasional differences that are inherent in such a close partnership between two large and complex economies. But I would suggest that our economic relationship does more than just that: it is to a large degree responsible for spurring the continuing improvement and growth in our economies and that of the region as a whole. Let me offer an example:

In the 1980's American industry, in a number of sectors, found it difficult to compete with Japan. Japanese industry was often more productive and sold better products noted for their high quality and value for the price. American companies responded. Many started to look at Japanese industry to learn just what had made Japan so successful. Soon one began to hear discussions among American business people of the advantages of quality circles and just-in-time delivery systems, and these practices began to be introduced into American industry. The result of the American response to the Japanese challenge was that Americans, rather than restrict trade, improved their own operations and their products to the point that they are once again among the best in their fields and American industry is again among the most productive in the world.

As we all know, in the 1990s other things changed. Following the collapse of the "bubble," Japan found itself with a troubled economy. As the recession dragged on, in a number of sectors - financial, telecommunications and others - many Japanese thought that the solution to their problems was to ensure that their markets were protected. At the same time, American businessmen, with their new found vigor, were clamoring for the opportunity to enter the Japanese market. They, of course, were looking after their own interests, but we in the U.S. Government believed that opening up markets through deregulation and improving access would help to revive the Japanese economy and would have the added benefit of serving Japanese as well as American interests. I believe the results have proven that to be correct. There have been many improvements in many sectors of the Japanese economy, for example, cellular phones.

As a result of our bilateral agreement signed in 1994, Japan opened its cellular telephone market to competition and nearly 50% of all Japanese now have cellular phones, and I would be willing to bet that the percentage of you in this hall that have them is even greater. And the irony is, although it was American companies that pushed for this deregulation, it has been Japanese companies and the Japanese consumer - you - who have benefited most.

But I do not believe that is all. Many of you will also benefit in ways that perhaps have not occurred to you. The elimination or loosening of regulations and the opening of markets not only means better, cheaper and more plentiful goods - it also means economic growth and greater job opportunities. Our experience and that of many European countries has shown that as restraints are lifted from the market, more and varied possibilities for employment are created. At the same time there are avenues for bright and creative young people to find new challenges.

Security Cooperation

Let me now turn to the third aspect of our relationship that may seem distant from those that I have just described - security cooperation.

The U.S.-Japan security relationship is now in its 40th year. This is something to celebrate, but it has also been an occasion for some in Japan to raise concerns and we Americans can deeply appreciate that fact.

What, you might ask, have been the benefits of the U.S.-Japan security alliance? The answer is clear: Our security alliance has been the foundation of peace and prosperity for the Pacific for the past half century, and it has ensured the regional stability that has made possible the economic growth and prosperity that has been enjoyed not only by Japan and the United States but by much of the rest of the region.

It is this stability that has also made possible the extraordinary developments that have occurred on the Korean Peninsula during the past six months. While there remain a number of difficult issues to be resolved on the Korean Peninsula - North Korea's missile program and its support for terrorism, for example, the question of abductions of Japanese citizens for Japan - close coordination between the U.S., Japan, and the Republic of Korea, will increase our ability to secure a favorable resolution to these troubling issues. We are appreciative of the contributions and sacrifices Japanese have made, and we are sensitive to the special burdens of our presence on the people living in close proximity to our bases. We are working with the Government of Japan to address these.

Japan should be proud also of the role it has played in peacekeeping operations around the world. Japan and the United States are the two largest financial contributors to UN peacekeeping. Peacekeeping operations are truly a noble endeavor, and we hope the Japanese will not hesitate to play an even greater role.


The reasons for which Japan and the United States have cooperated so well in diplomatic and political areas point to a set of humanitarian values that we share in common. The idea that Japanese and Americans had much in common would have seemed odd fifty years ago, following a bitter and devastating war. Our cultures seemed so different that the notion that we could ever truly understand one another or that we might have shared values seemed farfetched. But we discovered that in fact we do share many things in common: we share a common belief in democracy, representative government, and human rights. The result has been what my good friend Mike Mansfield called, "The most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none." The democratic and humanitarian values we share - the very values that are at the heart of ICU - have led our two countries to become - separately and together - leaders in the effort to improve the lives of those more unfortunate than we.

Nearly forty years ago in his inaugural speech, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy issued a challenge to the young people of the time, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." Over the years many of our youth have responded to that challenge by joining the Peace Corps, which was also created by President Kennedy. For most, this too has been part of their education, and many have gone on to careers in education, international affairs, and public service. In fact, in many American embassies around the world you can find American diplomats whose first foreign experience came through the Peace Corps. Japan has developed a similar institution - the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers - and young Japanese are making important contributions to bettering the lives of people in lesser-developed countries.

These, of course, are not the only ways in which young people can become involved in public service. The special sort of education that you ICU students receive uniquely prepares you to build bridges across borders and to foster understanding among peoples. I know, because in our embassy and our consulates we count among our staff 9 ICU graduates, who do a tremendous job of facilitating the U.S.-Japan relationship, including one of the interpreters for my address, Ms. Fumiko Gregg.


At the outset, I said that I wanted to speak to you as the representative of one generation to another. Looking back on my many years of public life, I can say that life has been a good teacher - not an easy or patient one - but an effective one. Life is a tough school, in which the test comes before the lessons. I urge you to keep this in mind as you venture out into the world.

What I would also ask you to keep uppermost in your minds is that there is no shame in trying and failing. It's just like the American industries I mentioned earlier. Only through their failures - and their willingness to learn from others - were they able to reinvent themselves and succeed. Don't be afraid to try new things - to try bringing new and innovative solutions to existing problems. Learn from the lessons - but also from the mistakes - of previous generations and of those around you.

Above all, keep your dreams close to your heart and never give up on them. As the great American humanitarian of an earlier generation - Eleanor Roosevelt - once said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." It is the beauty of those dreams that I salute today.

I congratulate you all on your achievements and wish you continued success for the future. I am deeply humbled by the honor ICU has bestowed on me today, and I want to express my sincerest appreciation for the opportunity to speak before you today.

Thank you.