Transcript: Ambassador Foley's Farewell Speech to Japan Press Club
Following is the text of Foley's speech, as
prepared for delivery and a transcript of the question and answer session
following the speech
February 23, 2001
Thank you Mr. Nabe [Yoshimasa Nabe, Managing Director of the Japan National Press Club], Mr. Koike [Moderator Hirotsugu Koike of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun] and Mr. Hanyu [Lead Questioner Kenji Hanyu, Executive Vice President of TBS TV News], and thank you ladies and gentlemen of the Japan National Press Club. As you know, I will soon be leaving Japan, after three years of service on behalf of my country and in the interest of the U.S.-Japan relationship. Until my successor is named by President Bush, the honor of representing America in Japan will be carried on by Christopher LaFleur, who has been an outstanding deputy, counselor, advisor, and friend to me and my wife Heather for the past three years. (Introduce Mr. LaFleur.)
I first came to Japan over thirty years ago, in 1969, as a young member of Congress. There were very few of us in Congress in those days making trips to Japan - this was before Japan's status as a global economic power, and before Japanese products and Japanese cars had become household names in America. As I recall, I came to Japan to attend the Shimoda conference - one of only a handful of programs at the time supporting better understanding between Americans and Japanese. (As you can imagine of someone of my height - I stood out like the awkward young foreigner that I then was.)
Today, when I walk down the street in Tokyo, I have a feeling that I stand out a little less. Or if I do stand out, I hope it is for different reasons. In the thirty years since I first came to Japan, the landscape here has greatly changed. I have been privileged to witness the dramatic emergence of a vast network of people-to-people ties - a network that girds and, I believe, safeguards the U.S.-Japan relationship.
The number of private and government programs supporting our people-to-people ties has soared. Ask any American, ask any Japanese citizen, and I suspect they will tell you either they themselves have crossed the Pacific to Japan or America, or they have a friend or family member who has done so. Many of our staff at the Embassy first came to Japan as JET program participants.
Traffic across the Pacific is a two-way phenomenon. Japanese citizens also are coming to America in ever greater numbers. They are present in every sector of American society. They come to America no longer to learn from the West, as was the case over 100 years ago, but to teach us, to sell competitive Japanese products, and to participate in joint research. During my tenure as Ambassador, I was pleased to see the creation of a new fellowship named after the late Prime Minister Obuchi to help more young Okinawans study in America.
Illustrious Japanese in America have run the gamut from Nobel Prize winner Susumu Tonegawa; to space shuttle astronauts Mamoru Mori, Chiaki Mukae, and Koichi Wakata; to marathon gold medallist Naoko Takahashi, who trained for the Olympics in Colorado. Two of Japan's finest athletes, Kazuhiro Sasaki and Ichiro Suzuki are playing baseball in my home state, for the Seattle Mariners.
My point here is that it is the many personal, individual ties that form the true bedrock of our partnership. The steady growth in our people-to-people exchanges is probably the best indicator of the vitality of the U.S.-Japan relationship.
My deep belief in the importance of our ties as private citizens is one reason why I am particularly saddened by the tragic sinking of the Ehime Maru. Every American aware of this tragedy feels deep sympathy for the families and understands the grief of the people of Japan. As you know, President Bush, Secretary of State Powell, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld have expressed their apology for this tragic accident, as have I. But I also know that apologies alone are not enough. When yesterday I met the family members of those on the Ehime Maru, I felt how great a loss this was - not only for the families who have been robbed of their loved ones, but for the nation. It was probably the saddest, most painful act of my time as Ambassador here. We have already launched an intensive investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board - they have begun sharing with the world the initial findings. The Navy determined in its preliminary investigation that there were grounds for convening a Court of Inquiry. That court will commence hearings soon. We fully realize that the families - and everyone in Japan - are anxious to know exactly how this tragedy occurred. Both the NTSB and the Navy are working intensively on this, but they - especially the Navy - must also insure that we follow the necessary legal procedures carefully. As we have promised, the results of these investigations will be made available and the process will be transparent. In fact, Japan's JMSDF has been invited to send a representative to participate in the Court of Inquiry. We will find out exactly what happened and then work to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.
As I prepare to leave Japan, let me step back and talk about our broader relationship and where I believe it is headed. For over half a century, our partnership has been tested by great world upheavals. We have been strengthened as allies in the process. Today, the end of the cold war presents new challenges to our alliance, challenges we are just beginning to grapple with. The regional dynamic is in flux. The threats we face - the very nature of conflict - has changed. We have gone from dealing with one clear, Soviet threat to a situation in which the threats are as diverse as they are widespread. Today, as allies, we must fend off problems as varied as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, averting global economic instability, and responding to environmental threats like global warming.
The peaceful end to worldwide conflict with the Soviet Union has brought a substantial security dividend. But the end of the Cold War has not brought all of our security concerns in Northeast Asia to resolution.
The U.S. and Japan have a tremendous stake in the peaceful, democratic evolution of China. Our common effort over the past year in support of China's participation in the World Trade Organization was one step in the direction of bringing this regional giant into the international free-market economic system. The task before us is clear: as Secretary Powell put it, "China is not an enemy and our challenge is to keep it that way." The Bush Administration has stressed America's desire to work with Japan, South Korea, Australia and our other regional allies to respond to a dynamic China and nurture a constructive relationship. I believe this is an achievable goal.
Dramatic events on the Korean peninsula last year, particularly the North-South summit meeting in June, have opened up new possibilities for reconciliation and cooperation. Our trilateral consultative process has been a key ingredient in the progress we have been able to make. While the new Administration is in the process of reviewing our policy toward North Korea, I believe that whatever the outcome, we will try to build on the progress we have made up to now and maintain a close collaborative approach to North Korea with Japan and Korea.
An effective U.S.-Japan alliance remains critical to both countries' interests. We must not forget the central lesson from our Cold War experience: democratic alliances, standing firm, will succeed in defending against any and all threats to peace. Changes in the regional and international security environment do not alter that fundamental judgment. But changes in circumstances do mean that we must adapt our alliance if we are to keep it strong.
Let me mention a few of the adaptations already underway. Thanks to the new Guidelines for Defense Cooperation, agreed to by both our governments in 1997, we are better prepared to meet possible contingencies. Base consolidations will continue, allowing us the best defense with the minimum burden to citizens living near U.S. bases. The SACO process aims at reducing our impact on the people of Okinawa as much as possible, through a number of changes in training procedures, base relocations, and land returns. This process is well underway, with 15 out of 27 of the initiatives completed.
At the same time, adaptation does not mean throwing the baby out with the bath water. The point is to make our security alliance more efficient and more effective. This is a partnership that works and that has maintained peace and stability for over half a century - not only for the U.S. and Japan but for the entire region.
Looking to the future, there are several areas in which our two countries are likely to benefit from working together more intensively. The post cold war environment in the Asia Pacific region dictates that we not focus exclusively on planning for potential armed conflicts, but that we consider how to work cooperatively to meet common threats. Japan has a very significant role to play in designing and building a more secure region. The range of possible diplomatic and military confidence-building options is extensive. They include cooperative efforts to counter piracy, diplomatic efforts to foster a greater sense of shared security in the region, and joint training for humanitarian and disaster relief missions. We understand Japan's constitutional limitations on participating in collective self-defense. But much can be done, today, that does not call into question that constitutional threshold.
I also believe the U.S. and Japan can do much more together in the area of peacekeeping, disaster relief, and other humanitarian operations. Both Japan and the United States have displayed great generosity and made great sacrifices on many occasions throughout the world. Japan's ODA, in particular, is an essential component to maintaining peace around the world. I believe that the humanitarian values that Americans and Japanese share, and our common interest in international peace and stability, argue powerfully for greater mutual efforts on behalf of those who need urgent help from the international community.
Just as we are working to adapt our security partnership to the post cold war realities, I see a similar process of adaptation underway in Japan on the economic front.
In my 30 years of association with Japan, economic change almost beyond comprehension has been the one constant. Japan has gone from being an economy ravaged by wartime defeat to becoming an engine of world economic growth. It is the second-largest economy in the world, representing 70 percent of Asia's economy. The past decade has seen growth slow, but I am confident that the technological and managerial innovation - not to mention the sheer human talent - that made Japan a leader in the '70's and '80's will again revitalize your economy.
In the past three years, I have seen the cell phone industry expand dramatically, driving down prices and putting them in the hands of half the people in Japan. As this process of pro-competitive regulation expands throughout the economy, we will see higher growth and more innovation. Japan is already seeing more foreign direct investment entering the economy, creating jobs both here and in the U.S. Foreign investment brings with it new management techniques that make domestic companies more competitive. As the process of deregulating the economy and modernizing the legal framework in which business operates expands across the economy, we can expect to see both Japanese and foreign firms doing more and better business here.
At the same time, I sense a certain amount of anxiety in Japan about the future. Good, hardworking people worry about their savings and pensions, they worry about the unemployment rate, and they wonder whether they or their children will be able to find work, buy a home, and enjoy a bright and prosperous future.
Americans have known this anxiety too. In the 1980s, America questioned whether it was up to the challenge of international competition. Americans read "Japan as #1" by Ezra Vogel and wondered if we could compete with you. We were forced to undertake a massive restructuring of our industries and to reconsider how we conducted business with the rest of the world. It was not easy. People who had worked nearly all their lives in one sector suddenly found themselves out of a job. They had to begin anew, learning different skills to fit the times. Our businesses needed to learn new techniques -- many of them from Japan - and to adapt to the demands of the emerging global economy. Our nation succeeded, however, and today our economy is reaping the benefits.
Japanese leaders with whom I have met over the past three years almost all agree that your country needs to continue implementing reforms in order to create that brighter future for your young people. I know that Japan will succeed in this difficult endeavor of restructuring and adaptation. It is in both of our interests to have a strong and secure Japan. America will be your unwavering partner throughout this process.
While I realize that for many in Japan the first task today is revitalizing your own society, I hope you will not lose sight of the fact that Japan remains, by far, one of the most impressive and influential societies on our planet. We citizens of other countries deeply value your contributions and look forward to your playing an even greater role in the future.
By going forward with this process of growth in our bilateral partnership, I am confident that we will be leaving a safe, prosperous legacy for future generations.
Think about it: our economies are the two largest in the world, accounting for 40 percent of the world's economic activity. Our security alliance is stronger than it has ever been. Democracy, the foundation of both of our societies, is being adopted by many more countries. There are so many problems in the world where our shared values and combined energy is already being put to good purpose - fighting AIDS, controlling weapons of mass destruction, preserving peace, spreading the benefits of the IT revolution, and saving coral reefs.
I know that we can build on these successes. The U.S.-Japan relationship is as strong as it has ever been. I am convinced that, if we so choose, this vast network of ties we call the U.S.-Japan relationship can become the key partnership that shapes the 21st century.
When I leave Japan, I will become, once again, a private American citizen, after forty years of nearly unbroken public service. I look forward to becoming part of a bilateral network of private citizens, sharing our blessings with each other, and with those in need, around the world.
(begin Q&A transcript)
AMBASSADOR THOMAS S. FOLEY
Question and Answer Session
following speech to the Japan National Press Club
February 23, 2001
Q: I'm sure something many of you are all interested in is the collision of the Ehime Maru and the submarine; I think many people have more interest in this than other questions. It look as if the American government dealing with this issue is always a bit delayed, and we want to know why is that; that is the impression we get. Talking about the technical issue, the Navy, should have used the active sonar, but so far the Navy has refused to use the active sonar. In order to prevent such an incident to recur is it possible that using of the active sonar will be made a requirement? It looks as if such a requirement from the American government to the Navy is going to be necessary, what do you feel about this issue?
AMB. FOLEY: First of all, I think it's important to understand that the special court of inquiry is designed to answer just such a question. As to what caused the accident and what steps could be taken to prevent such an accident ever occurring again. The fact is that this so-called emergency blow is done commonly; it has been done hundreds of times a year; approximately a hundred and fifty times a year. It has been done over the years probably thousands of times. And never before has there been any accident or injury. So we have the perplexing question of why this time did such an accident occur. And we are more interested, I think we should be more interested, in getting to the absolute truth, without any effort to cover up anything, and to take the truth wherever it goes, so that when the final information is available it will be information that is credible, and final recommendations can be based on that knowledge. Active sonar may be part of the answer. But I am not a technical expert. Active sonar, I am told, sometimes interferes with passive sonar; Active sonar is directional; and it can not be as accurate in determining the presence of a vessel as passive sonar. Perhaps some combination of both is needed. Other things that could be done would involve taking the submarine even higher above the surface, and using radar to ensure that there was no vessel in the perimeter. All these things are going to be examined. And the only thing I can say is that it's important to get the most accurate and credible information, even over getting quick information.
It has always been my experience that the first reports of any incident are usually wrong. And they almost always are subject to later correction. We are committed to finding the truth, wherever it leads, we are committed to taking steps that will ensure that this accident is never repeated, but if I ask you to understand sometimes take a longer time than is easy for people to understand. Also, because of the particular constitutional requirements of our legal system, it may not always be possible to reach conclusions as quickly as could be done if we were to ignore those constitutional legal provisions. But we are not permitted to do that.
Q: I'd like to ask another related question about that particular submarine. Civilians were invited to be shown around the submarine, in order for civilians to understand U.S. military and military facilities, such visits may be important. I can understand that. There have been a lot of announcements, and if you put together all the announcements, the military response and the submarine crew response were rather crude. I think so and many Japanese agree with me I think. What do you think about the very awkward or crude responses made by the submarine crew and the submarine itself?
AMB. FOLEY: I'm not aware of any particularly crude responses from the submarine crew so I really can't comment on that. But I certainly would say that it has been a common practice, not only for the Navy but for all of our services, to welcome on board military vessels and military installations various groups of civilians, including foreign military personnel and foreign leaders, so that they can have a greater appreciation of the role of the United States in its military and defense activities. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, and there should be no special risk that such invitations pose to anyone. But again, the policy has been reviewed, and will be previewed again as the investigation continues. And it is clear that there is a new order, already issued by the Secretary of Defense, that while these programs may continue, no civilian will be permitted to in any way operate any of the military equipment.
Q: Moving on to the next question, I want to ask you about American bases. There are many, many questions here about American bases. I would like to summarize these many questions we have received concerning the American military bases. Concerning Okinawa, there are many American military bases, since you assumed the Ambassadorship, what has been the most difficult issue for you in terms of resolving the American military bases-related questions in Okinawa? Also, what is the most important job you see as Ambassador, who can deal with this issue; what would be the most important things that an Ambassador can do in dealing with American military bases in Okinawa?
AMB. FOLEY: Well first of all, I think one of the things that has distressed not only me as Ambassador but also General Hester and the military command authority in Japan that from time to time there are disciplinary incidents which mar the policy and effort of the United States and the U.S. military to recognize that we are guests in this country. And that in Okinawa especially, there is a great presence of the U.S. military - for historic reasons - and that that poses a special burden on the Okinawan people and must consciously be addressed by our military commanders and by the U.S. government, to seek to reduce the pressure of that presence and that difficulty. Now it is probably impossible to promise that there will never again be an incident. But we are determined to reduce to an absolute minimum whatever military disciplinary problem has existed in the past. Some have been more serious than others. But each of them is unacceptable, and we do not attempt to excuse any of them. What has concerned me from time to time is that the attitude of our military commanders I think has been misunderstood.
An example is the recent e-mail that General Hailston, commander of the Marine Third MEF, wrote as a private e-mail. I would have been glad for all of the Japanese people to see the full text of that e-mail. Because although it contains some very unfortunate statements about Okinawan officials which I think do not represent General Hailston's view because he has worked very effectively and respectfully with Okinawan officials. But what's part of the frustration that led to his writing of the e-mail to his subordinate military commanders complaining about the failure to eliminate these breaches of discipline, demanding greater respect for the Okinawan people, and urging them to take every possible step to minimize and eliminate disciplinary problems. It was that spirit in which the e-mail was written. Not, as sometimes Japanese believe, a spirit of a lack of respect or a lack of concern for those disciplinary incidents.
I always believe with Thomas Jefferson that one of the most important things in a democracy is a free press. And under no circumstances would we trade the freedom of press for any institution, if we really respect democracy. But it often true the first reports of any incident sometimes lead to impressions that may not be entirely correct in all aspects. I don't excuse any breach of discipline. Nor do our military leaders. But occasionally I have said that the history of these circumstances often leads people to assume the worst and sometimes the reporting has led to great emotion - understandably. But we have been concerned with the impression that many Japanese have that crime around our bases is increasing. The fact is - the fact is - that it is decreasing. Still too many incidents. No incident should be excused, or it should be prevented. But in recent years the number has been reduced and we intend to continue to work to reduce it further.
In that respect, I think the role of an Ambassador is to obviously speak his government's policy to the country to which he is accredited, but also an important role is to tell his own government, what feelings and attitudes are of the country to which he has been accredited. And I have tried to do that, to give my government an understanding of the special difficulty that our position in Okinawa has brought about, in terms of sometimes incidents following each other quickly, and then being connected with things are not necessarily immediately connected, like the tragic submarine accident, to give people an impression that things are somehow out of control.
Also, our cultures are different in many respects, as everyone here knows. The [submarine] officer in question is one whose conduct is being reviewed.
And he may or may not be subject to further action. His lawyers have undoubtedly advised him that his instinct and desire to apologize directly can not be done. And that he must for the time remain silent. But that should not leave the impression that the United States or the American people or even the officer in question are not deeply remorseful about what has happened. Every day I receive e-mails and letters from Americans, ordinary American citizens who ask what they can do, how can they express their anguish and distress with this terrible incident? So I think, out of this terrible tragedy, perhaps will be the experience that we are all involved in circumstances where there is a possibility of great personal tragedy; and that the understanding of that tragedy and our efforts to do whatever we can to assuage them, is part of our responsibility as friends and partners.
Q: I have another question about US military bases. About the future of U.S. bases in Japan. The existing US bases in Japan in the next 50 or 100 years you think they will stay here? What is your view on this? The Cold War is over, the cold war structure has collapsed, and the US Bases and the US-Japan Security Treaty, its role itself may be changing so based on that what do you think? And, I think the US bases in Okinawa should be eliminated but what do you think? So these are some of the questions that have been collected.
AMB. FOLEY: In 1996, the United States and Japan entered into a joint security declaration, in which document they declared that the two governments will continually consult on the security situation in Japan and the surrounding areas and that they will make judgments about such things as force levels depending upon that security situation. It is true that the Cold War has collapsed. And many people thought at that point, I think, that the U.S. security relationship with Japan had also lost some of its meaning. Then in August of 1998 the North Koreans fired a Taepodong missile over Japan. And I think for many Japanese there was a sudden belief that the security problems had not all ended with the end of the Cold War. There is a possibility that there will be new political realignment on the Korean Peninsula, but so far - although there is a possibility and a hope that the conditions will improve - from a security standpoint there are still as many North Korean missiles, there are still as many North Korean troops, there is not a dramatic change in the security situation.
And there are other events taking place in the Asia-Pacific region, which involve the strengthening of military capacities by other countries. So, it is difficult to project forward what five or ten years might bring in the world, much less in fifteen years or more. No one could have predicted the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, or very few did in the time span in which it actually occurred. But at the same time, we know now that we have new challenges. The challenges of piracy, international drug dealing, the problems that exist from technologies of destruction that are still present in the world and could fall in to the hands of dangerous groups and individuals. Those things are common challenges that Japan and other countries must face.
The role of U.S. forces in Japan is a matter that is under constant review. We do an examination every four years. We do a continual discussion with the Japanese government about this and of course it is a matter of mutual decision. Ultimately, it's a Japanese decision how long this alliance will be maintained in its present form. But I think we also ought to recognize what a powerful instrument for stability and peace it has been. We are concerned about the special burdens that the presence of U.S. bases presents. We are working hard to implement the SACO Agreement. We have achieved more than half of its goals and we will work to complete the rest as quickly as possible and we always attempt to be sensitive to the role of US forces here as guests and co-partners. And we must constantly understand and appreciate and be sensitive to the needs and concerns of the Japanese people.
Q: A question about U.S.-Japan relationship. During your tenure here, regarding the U.S.-Japan relationship, what kind of progress have you seen, do you believe, in looking back on your tenure?
AMB. FOLEY: I think in trade terms we have succeeded in some cases to resolve trade disputes. There are others where we frankly have been disappointed and which we have yet to achieve a resolution. In our trade relations, I think for the most part we have avoided the sort of deep antagonism and emotional reactions in both countries, which was more typical of a generation or ten to fifteen years ago. And part of that has been, of course that there has been an economic condition that has sometimes put those trade difficulties into another dimension or they have been overcome by a general sense of progress in other economic areas, but we still have potential problems with the size of the trade deficit in the United States. It is interesting in a most recent report that China has eclipsed Japan as the greatest trade surplus country among our trading nations.
I think in terms of the security relationship, we have with all the difficulties that we have talked about earlier, with the passage of the guidelines, have given us an opportunity for closer cooperation than ever before with the Self Defense Forces. The adoption of the Special Measures Agreement by the Diet was extremely welcome from our side and it was passed with the support of all the opposition parties as well as the ruling coalition. Most Japanese, frankly, still agree that the Security Treaty is still in the interest of both Japan and the United States. Most Japanese, however as you noted earlier, would like to see fewer American troops and bases. But the fact that we have had an opportunity to achieve a closer planning activity and support it is important I think. And we are going to address the other concerns as vigorously as we can. We hope that we will have the understanding and cooperation of the Japanese people.
On the question of diplomatic and political cooperation, Japan and the United States have worked very closely together. And not because one follows the other. But because as former Prime Minister Obuchi said, "We both have common values and from our common values, we develop common interests." Let me just quickly say, for both democracies, both imperfect democracies I might say, but Winston Churchill once said, "The democracies were the worst form of government except for every other." And we both have democratic, true democratic societies. We have open economies. Again, not perfect, but broadly open and we are the two strongest trading partners in the world as individual countries. Two largest economies in the world. Two largest donators of overseas assistance in the world. Two countries who have independent judiciaries and rules of law which are recognized and respected. Human rights that are recognized and respected. The working together to eliminate the causes of war and international terrorism. And contributing together to the peace and security, not only of the region but worldwide. Those are many common interests and they infuse our common policies because they are based on common values. And I think that all you have to do is run this checklist against other countries and even though there are more democratic societies in the world today, it is remarkable how closely with very different histories and very different culture, Japan and the United States share these common values.
Q: About the Korean Peninsula situation I'd like to ask you something although you touched on it already, in the future, when you see the future reversion of the Korean peninsula what kind of views do you have of the future reversion on the Korean peninsula and the possible improvement in relations between the United States and North Korea, what kind of role do you think Japan should play in facilitating such an improvement in the relationship between the North Korea and the United States, I'd like to receive your views.
AMB. FOLEY: Well, the United States and Japan and the Republic of Korea have cooperated more closely on their policies toward North Korea than almost any other subject I can describe, they have really had a tremendously deep and effective collaboration and consultation process. This came to its highest level in the months leading up, or I should say the weeks leading up to the visit of former Secretary Perry to Pyongyang and in the months since. Each of our countries has been pursuing separate but compatible discussions with North Korea. We have been discussing with them matters of missile testing and technology proliferation and Japan has been conducting discussions toward normalization of relations with Japan and of course Korea has been discussing the widest possible range of new dimensions of political and other economic cooperation. We've kept - each country has kept the others advised. Each country has sent the highest level of representatives to continuous meetings.
I know that, although the new administration is reviewing our policy toward North Korea, I am satisfied that they will continue this spirit of cooperation and collaboration and consultation with Japan and with the Republic of Korea. It's been exactly the kind of cooperation that I think is important and should be continued. And Japan contributes obviously to this process very importantly. But we in terms of the question of U.S. normalization of relations with Korea, that will depend on a number of things. Japan's progress in developing normalization of relations will have specific Japanese dimensions so we need to consult and understand each other's position and to facilitate as much as we can those individual initiatives and requirements. This dimension - of course it's obvious the abductees question has to be addressed I'm sure in the resolution of a normalization of relations in with Japan.
Q: This is going to be my last question representing the audience. I would to hear your true feeling on this issue. Don't you have to serve a second term, second tenure as the ambassador in Japan; if you do not have to serve as the ambassador for another term, who do you see (coming)?
AMB. FOLEY: Oh, I want to express my appreciation for the honor that I was given to serve in Japan but I said - in answer to a press question, by the way - before the election that whether Vice President Gore was elected president or Governor Bush was elected president that it would be presumptuous for me to assume that either of them would ask me to stay on as ambassador to Japan. Every new administration very often wishing to make its own specific appointment. This is a very important appointment for the United States, a very, very important appointment. And Ambassador Mansfield was unique in serving two administrations and administrations of a different party and administrations, in one case of a different party from his own. It is only one of the remarkable things about this particular great individual. But it also says something about our attitude toward Japan. The fact that President Reagan could consider appointing, again, the former majority leader of the Democratic Party in the Congress was a symbol that he had confidence that our policies between parties were totally compatible on the subject of Japan, that our interests were the same, no Congress, no President has ever had any doubt about that in the last half century. So, I don't know whom the President, President Bush of course, will appoint and I have confidence, however, that it will be a person that will reflect the great importance that the United States attaches to this post.
I have been very honored to be the ambassador, particularly because I follow a long line of very distinguished Americans and on the Japanese side, so many examples of the most distinguished members of the Gaimusho who have been sent to the United States. We have a conceit, I think properly in both countries, that other countries send to each of us, to Japan and to the United States, people that they think reflect some ability, I hope, but also great respect for the relationship. So I think it will be an American of distinction and ability, I don't know who it'll be and I hope his or her name will be announced soon.
I do again ask you to understand that our system is a little bit slow, because it involves not only the decision of the executive branch but the concurrence of the Senate. I spent thirty years in the House of Representatives. I had respect for the United States Senate always, but until my nomination was sent for confirmation, I never realized how really important the United States Senate was and why it deserved at every occasion deep respect. They were very kind to me and I'm grateful to them and I can assure you that whoever comes here will come as one charged with maintaining and, if possible, improving, this significant, most significant relationship and I look forward to having a chance to at least share a few thoughts with that person and I'm going to not tell you all of them but I will like to say just one here: I am going to say to him and to the American people, that for so many reasons this has been a great experience for me, but in particular because of those with whom I have an opportunity to serve.
The United States Embassy and all of the United States agencies that work in Japan have a common objective, to serve this relationship and to serve it well. And they include not only the US officers but and all of the military officers who serve here but also some extraordinarily dedicated Japanese citizens who have worked for our embassy for so many years. And have in an act of loyalty to their country supported the relationship in absolutely essential ways. And it is another example of the wonderful experience that I have had in working with them. But again, finally, I would like to express my appreciation to all of you and to the Japanese people for the great experience. And I am going to tell whoever it is coming here that this is a very wonderful experience and a very great honor and that I know he or she will believe that when they come to the end of their term of office. Thank you.
Q: Now we'd like to take questions from the floor. Please raise your hand, I'll recognize you and step up to the microphone and state your name and affiliation and you can ask your questions either in Japanese or in English.
Q: About U.S. military bases, Governor Ishihara of Tokyo, where you've been in Japan, says that Yokota Air Base should be used jointly, partly for commercial use between Japan and the United States. I think for the your successor this will be an important issue, this Japan-US joint use of the Yokota Base. What do you think about that idea and what kind of suggestion do you make to your successor? A special envoy may be sent to Japan about compensation for that submarine incident, what kind of level of a person will be sent here as a special envoy from the United States and in what form and in what capacity do you think he will come to talk about the compensation issue?
AMB. FOLEY: Well, there are several different questions involved. Let me say first of all that we of course respect Governor Ishihara and all governors and other very important local officials, but in Japan as in the United States, questions that deal with security matters are subjects not for local government, however distinguished, but for the central government of both countries. So I have been informed about this of Governor Ishihara's interest, but this is not a subject on which we can appropriately carry on a discussion with a local governor, however important. There are, I think, some great technical difficulties - I'm not an expert again - in utilizing Yokota as a joint civilian-military base, for one thing, I think the limitations of runways and so on. It's interesting also that it is a considerable distance from Tokyo. I go to the base occasionally and it's not the easiest base to reach, so there are a lot of other, other questions, but primarily it's a matter for discussion between our two governments and those discussions have not been, have not taken place to any great degree. It is a very important base from our standpoint, it's the headquarters for the Fifth Air Force, it's the center of all our logistics operations for the whole of Japan, and, again, a very significant part of the US base structure in Japan.
As far as the other point of your question, we have not had an official designation yet of any special envoy so I can't give you any comment on that.
Q: Talking about the submarine-Ehime Maru incident. I know you have been making a lot of efforts so Japan and America will not be antagonistic. I appreciate your efforts. In order for Japan and United States to not be antagonistic emotionally, you made a reference about cultural differences between Japan and the United States in dealing with this issue. What kind of differences in culture do we have? Japan has a German-style legal system. Sometimes the demeanor is bound by criminal law, but not in the United States. And investigations are going on, so that this kind of thing will not recur. This kind of investigation result will not be reflected in court procedure. So I understand that these are some of the differences between Japan and the United States legally. I know that reporting has not been done enough on these legal aspects of the issue, and cultural differences concerning this issue, raising the boat so that we can find bodies. I cannot help but remembering the Pearl Harbor attack. Whenever I stop by in Honolulu I stop by in Pearl Harbor and offer my prayer. There are ships still at the bottom of the sea, as many American soldiers are still sleeping or lying at the bottom of the sea, their bodies have never been recovered, but Japanese are demanding to have the bodies recovered. This is a very genuine and rational request from Japan. So I think that the American people do not understand why Japanese people are so persistent in recovering the ship and the bodies, while the United States has a different culture and may not understand such a demand. Do you have any comment on this issue?
AMB. FOLEY: Well I think it is sometimes very difficult for people in each culture to fully appreciate and understand the attitudes in other cultures. When John F. Kennedy, Jr., and his wife were lost in an aircraft accident, they had a ceremony at sea, commending their bodies to the deep in effect. As in the case that you mention, the USS Arizona, we often regard the bodies of those lost at sea as a special matter for respect and that there is more attention and demand often; and it is an understandable but different part of the culture in Japan to recover the bodies at virtually every opportunity where it's possible.
The practice of apology is very much a part of Japanese custom. In the United States, particularly if there is seriously possibility of criminal liability, counsel would argue very strongly against anyone expressing regrets until after the legal proceedings are over, not before. Difference in culture again. In the United States, it is more likely that the apology is given if the offense is minor or if the liability is unlikely, than when it is great and the liability is potentially great. Those are hard things for each culture to understand in the other, and it is very difficult I think even to explain this because it is contrary to experience in a culture which has different characteristics and traditions. All we can do is make an attempt to hope that the differences do not reflect a lack of concern, of remorse, of sympathy and determination to express that in every appropriate way, including at an appropriate time of course the question of compensation. But in the meantime we are trying, under the particular conditions and circumstances of our own legal systems, to get at the truth. And I repeat again: we will strive to obtain the truth of this accident without any effort to disguise or dissemble it or to deny the Japanese government and the Japanese people, as well as our own, in the United States, the full understanding of what happened and whatever undertakings will be made as I'm sure there will be, to be sure that it never happens again.
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