Arrival Statement by Ambassador Howard Baker

(with additional text as delivered)

July 3, 2001

(as delivered)

My wife Nancy and I are delighted to be here today. We have both long been fascinated by and privileged to be associated with Japan. We have many friends here and we look forward to making many more in the years to come. Our job is to deepen our friendship and strengthen the partnership. We truly believe that ours is a partnership that benefits not only our two countries and the region but the world as a whole. As my distinguished predecessor, Mike Mansfield has said on many occasions, ours is the most important bilateral relationship in the world bar none.

This deep friendship between our two countries is remarkable because of the differences in our history and culture. Yet, as our alliance faces the challenges of the new century, I am equally confident that we will forge an ever deeper relationship based on the growing range of our interests and shared values. Together we can respond to an uncertain security environment; promote the greater integration of our economies; and build a world safe for democracy and respecting of human dignity.

Both Japan and the United States have new administrations ready to consider new policies and deal with the challenges of a new century. I know that in Japan "change" and "reform" have become the new watchwords and that there are great expectations for a brighter future among the Japanese people. Having had the privilege of participating in the very successful summit meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi, I know that the U.S. is ready to do what it can as an ally to help Japan. Your success is ours. We will express our views, offer advice, and turn to you for yours. We are friends who can do that and as sovereign nations we have the responsibility to speak frankly about our interests while working closely together to nurture our relationship. I will speak but I also want to listen and learn from you.

So, my mandate from President Bush is clear: to bring our two nations closer together as allies and economic partners, cooperating with our friend Japan as we together meet the responsibilities and challenges of leadership in this changing world. In the midst of all the political, economic and social change in the world there are few certainties. But for fifty years one certainty has been and will continue to be the solidity and importance of the U.S.?Japan partnership. I believe that our ties will continue to be a bedrock for stability and economic prosperity in the Asia region and globally. At the same time, our relationship will also serve as it has in the past as a key force in promoting the changes necessary to guarantee our future.

[additional text begins]

May I say a word about the recent unfortunate incident on Okinawa. During this past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the very successful summit meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi. One of the topics of conversation there was about this incident in Okinawa. And as President Bush said, and I repeat, we express regret, sincere regret, about this incident. We promise our full cooperation in finding the facts and dealing with the situation.

I thank you very much. Before I leave, may I present my wife Nancy who accompanies me on this trip, who has a distinguished career in the United States Senate and whom I am proud to have here with me on this mission.

Thank you very much.