Transcript: Amb. Baker Says U.S., Japan Allied Against Terrorism

The Japan National Press Club
October 5, 2001

Moderator: May I introduce our ambassador first of all and what kind of a person he is like. After his appointment, this is the first visit to the press club so I would like to introduce him in a little bit more detail than usual.

Mr. Howard Baker, Jr. was sworn in as the American Ambassador to Japan on June 22 of this year. He is the 26th and the 13th after the war. The Ambassador was sworn in and on July 5th he presented his credentials to the Emperor. From 1967 January through 1985, which means some 18 years or so, the Ambassador served in the US Senate. From February '87 until July '88 he was the Chief of Staff under President Reagan. The Ambassador was born on November 15, 1925 in Huntsville, Tennessee. He completed his integrated studies at the University of the South and Tulane University, receiving a school degree from the University of Tennessee. During the Second World War he served 3 years in the US Navy. After this service he worked in the law firm founded by his grandfather.

In 1966 he was elected to the Senate for the first time from Tennessee. In 1973 he became the vice chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee. With this he won national recognition. In 1976 he was the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention. In 1980 he was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. He served two terms as minority leader from 1977 through 1981 and another two terms as majority leader, which was in '85 through '85. The Ambassador has served all these high level important positions and then retired from his senate career. The Ambassador has received many awards throughout this period. In 1984 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, in 1987 the Jefferson Award for greatest public service performed by an elected or appointed official.

Unlike other average politicians, the Ambassador is a noted photographer. In 1993 Ambassador Baker received the American Society Photographers International Award. He has published 4 books - "No Margin For Error" in 1980, "Howard Baker's Washington: This is His Photography" was published in 1982, "Big South Fork Country" in 1993. This is also showing his photographs and (inaudible) golf. This was published in 2000. Also his photography, which means this includes 3 photographic books.

Just one note about his family members. In December 1996, Ambassador Baker married the former US Senator from Kansas Mrs. Nancy Landon Kassebaum. Unfortunately Mrs. Nancy Baker was unable to attend this session here. But of course both of them are doing the same service. Unfortunately his former wife passed away from illness. She was Mrs. Joy Dirksen Baker. The Ambassador has two children and 4 grandchildren.

A little bit in detail rather than usual but thank you for your attention, and this was the introduction of our guest speaker. I believe this is a most opportune time not only for the two countries but for the global situation. This is extraordinary timing that we are able to meet the Ambassador today. Ambassador, please.

Ambassador Baker: Thank you very much for your introduction. I plead guilty to all the charges. It's always a pleasure to meet with members of the press. I have done it many times in the course of my career in public service, and it has been my experience that it is more an education for me than it is for you because it gives me some insight into the mainstream of political and public thought as seen from you who report it. So I count it a great pleasure today to be with you, to have an opportunity to speak and to interact with you, this premier group of journalists, and to consider the state of the relationship and cooperation between the United States and Japan.

I should perhaps begin these remarks by saying that I am not here to give advice to the people of Japan nor the government of Japan. I am here to acknowledge two things. First, that Japan is a great sovereign nation state among the great nation states of the world. And that Japan and the United States are not only friends but also allies. And as one of predecessor's, former Senator and former Ambassador Mike Mansfield, used to say, and used to say often, "The U.S.-Japan relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none." I've often wondered how you translate "bar none." But it's an old western expression in America, and it means nothing else surpasses the importance of that relationship. And indeed that is so. That is particularly so now that we are faced with a great challenge from a new enemy and adversary called terrorism.

But what a remarkable partnership it is, that between the United States and Japan. Sixty years ago our two countries were embroiled in a bitter war in the Pacific, and 50 years ago we signed a peace treaty that brought those hostilities to a close. My friends, seldom in the history of the world have two countries that were at such odds with one another gone on so quickly to form such deep abiding and mutually beneficial friendships as have the United States and Japan in the years since the war. I was a young Ensign in the US Navy in 1945, and I must tell you that I never could have imagined then that the United States and Japan would be friends, let alone allies in our common defense and in our dedication to peace and stability throughout the world. That is a tribute not only to the leadership of two great countries, but perhaps even more it's a tribute to the spirit, the soul and the nature of two great people.

And we are allies, it is true. To me it is more important that we are friends. I have been to Japan many times over the years, but it is only since I arrived here as Ambassador that I feel I can totally partake of the culture of this great nation, and have a better understanding of your culture, your cities, your people and your future. I am grateful for that opportunity, and I will do my best to speak for my country, I will do my best to hear and understand what you have to say, and to relay and transmit that back to my country and my government faithfully, diligently so that both our nations can embellish and extend the friendship and cooperation between us.

Shortly after I arrived in Japan to take up this post, I returned to the United States to celebrate the milestone event in the U.S.-Japan relationship, that is the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. It was organized by one of my friends, a man for whom I have such extraordinary respect, and has served our nation and the world with such distinction, former Secretary of State George Schultz. The event was truly a dazzling affair composed of seminars, symposia, dinners, keynote speeches and a ceremony suitable for the commemoration of a partnership that has grown into the most significant bilateral relationship in the 21st century.

At the time of the San Francisco ceremonies, I thought that the events I participated in there were the strongest testimony possible to the vitality of the U.S.-Japan relationship, and I thought it would be the main message that I would bring to you here in Tokyo today. The U.S.-Japan partnership is alive and well. It is a partnership that works on all fronts: political relations, economic, trade ties, security relations. It has never been stronger. I thought I knew then that the message I would bring you would deal with what we've done so far in this relationship.

But then my friends the world changed.

In a single, blinding moment, the world changed. The tragedy of the World Trade Center destruction, the attack on the American Pentagon, the proliferation of terrorist threats changed this world. They were defining moments in the history of mankind, and nothing will ever quite be the same again.

It was a cowardly attack, these two airplanes that struck the World Trade Center and destroyed them, by anonymous terrorists. It brought these great buildings down in only a few moments, but as President Bush said "They can destroy our buildings, but they can't destroy America." And they have not.

The attack on the Pentagon, and the mysterious plane crash in Pennsylvania which followed it, only intensified the certainty that we were facing a new era, facing new challenges, and would have to devise new methods for protecting ourselves and civilization. Not just because there were more than 5,000 people who were lost in the World Trade Center destruction, or that so many others have been injured and are missing, but rather because of the certain realization that we are vulnerable, and that mankind and civilization are fragile.

It will call on every bit of our strength, intelligence, the history and culture of our countries, to devise ways to protect ourselves against this new, faceless, ruthless, merciless enemy who destroys without compassion.

I traveled from the great anniversary celebration in San Francisco to another celebration in Wichita, Kansas, which was called the Mid-America/Japan friendship conference. There are, I believe, 5 of these, one in the Southeast, one in the Midwest, and in other parts of our country. My wife Nancy was the co-chair of the meeting in Wichita. It may then explain why I felt it necessary to speak there. But it was a pleasure to speak there, and to feel the enthusiasm of the people of the Midwest, as I had in San Francisco, for the evolving and continuing friendship and alliance between the United States and Japan. It was the same.

But then I traveled to Chicago in order to catch the plane the next morning to return to Tokyo. And my secretary called me from the American Embassy in Tokyo, and said "Are you watching television?" My wife and I were in a small hotel room near the airport in Chicago, and I said "Why no, I am not." She said, "Then you'd better do it." And I turned on television, literally in time to see the second plane collide with and destroy the second Trade Center tower. And I knew at that moment that the world had changed, and that I and the world would never quite be the same again. And I knew that relationships, not only between peoples but countries, would never be the same again. And it was not certain by any means that we would be better off, or more cooperative, or more sensitive to these challenges than we had been before. Great adversity has not always produced an improvement in the human condition in the course of civilization.

But it wasn't very long before I realized that the entire world was gathering around America, and expressing their grief, and their support, and their understanding of the commonality of the challenge before us. And then, my friends, to see the outpouring of personal grief was even more moving. Because when I did, five days later, manage to fly from the United States to Japan, the first thing I did was return to the U.S. Embassy, my post. As I went in the gate, the main gate to our Embassy, I saw flowers on the grass in front of the gate. And I saw lines of people, mostly Japanese I believe, but great lines of people who were bringing flowers and carefully laying them down. Then I saw where, without my intervention or without any formal act on the part of the American Embassy, that we'd put two tables there for books for people to sign, and then a tent because it was raining. And then for days there were lines of people who came, not only to bring their floral tributes, but to sign the book. And it was a moving experience. Because as people approached those books, it wasn't a mechanical gesture. They would stop and think. Some would bow their heads. And those behind would leave space so that they could have that private moment. It became sure evidence that the people of Japan not only understood the nature of this threat, but they reached out to America, to the survivors, to those who perished, and their commitment to forge an even better alliance against the common threat of terrorism.

To date 197 countries have expressed condolences and sympathy to the United States. But no one more enthusiastically and thoroughly than Japan. Early on Prime Minister Koizumi spoke to President Bush by phone and offered Japan's full support in our time of need. On September 14 the Prime Minister spoke at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan to state publicly to the world press that Japan would do everything it could to assist its friend and ally the United States.

My friends, I had seen for myself the fruits of terror in America. But I'd also seen the gathering up of humanity in a common cause to defeat it. And as the U.S. - Japan friendship/alliance adds to that, and becomes integral to it, it increases and expands the importance of that bilateral relationship, and leads the entire civilized world in the direction of a higher estate.

After I arrived at the Embassy, we were greatly honored, I personally was greatly honored, that the Prime Minister came to our Embassy to personally offer his sympathy and to sign the condolence book and to leave flowers for the victims of the attack. Many other cabinet members of the Cabinet, including the Foreign Minister, Director Nakatani, Diet members came to do the same. I was also reassured to see the support for the United States and the new war on terrorism expressed on the editorial pages of Japan's newspapers. One major national daily here stated in their editorial on September 13, "We should not be idle spectators in the battle against terrorists."

That point of view is reflected in public opinion polls, the results of which have been published, of the attitude of people in this country, and our determination to defeat this new and vicious enemy. On September 19 the government of Japan announced a seven-point package of concrete measures in the campaign against international terrorism, including measures involving Japan's Self Defense Forces, expanded security for U.S. forces, the humanitarian assistance to affected countries and displaced persons. Measures to support the whole economy and strengthen international cooperation in sharing information and so many other things. And of course, not the least, the government of Japan offered $10 million in emergency relief funds to assist those affected by the September-11 attacks.

President Bush warmly welcomed these measures in a statement from the White House that same day.

On September 24 and 25, Prime Minister Koizumi visited the United States to see first hand the devastation at the sight of the World Trade Center in New York, where many Japanese citizens were still missing, and then to consult with President Bush at the White House in Washington. I was there at that meeting. I traveled back to Washington on Sunday in order to be in place when the Prime Minister arrived at Andrews Air Force Base in this great 747 aircraft with the Japanese symbol to welcome him to our city and our country, and then to accompany him to the meetings with the President in the White House and the Oval Office.

And I can report to you first hand, my friends, that these two men understand each other, that President Bush and the Prime Minister understand the severity of the challenge, the nature of the obligation, and the opportunity to work together. And at a press conference after their meetings, the Prime Minister spoke, in English, directly to the American people. And he said, "We Japanese are ready to stand by the United States to fight terrorism. We must fight terrorism with determination and patience."

I cannot emphasize enough to the people of Japan how reassuring it was to hear your Prime Minister speak thus, in our time of crisis, in our language, with such strong words of support. As I stood there at the White House listening to the Prime Minister, I thought this is sure proof, eloquent testimony, to the friendship of our two nations.

Since the terrible events on September 11, and the events that unfolded thereafter, I've been asked by many friends in Japan, both officially and unofficially, what can Japan do to help. What is expected of a friend and ally? Many Japanese reporters have further asked me what we "expect" the Japanese to do, and your editorial pages are filled with discussions and debates about what Japan ought to do, or is able to do not only according to your judgment and decisions, but also within the framework of your culture, your Constitution and your laws.

Let me say that there is no one way that we expect all our friends and allies to assist us. As President Bush on the White House lawn with Prime Minister Koizumi, "People will contribute in different ways to this coalition." Prime Minister Koizumi said at that time that there were many ways to cooperate, some of them financial, perhaps diplomatic, humane assistance, medical assistance; there are many ways.

But I repeat once more, it is not my purpose as American Ambassador, it is not the purpose of my government to tell you how you support the friendship and alliance between our nations. That is your judgment to make. And we have high confidence that you will make the right decisions, and that you will contribute not only in a meaningful way, but in a great way, to this new alliance against terrorism.

But my friends, as important as it is to formulate public policy to combat a new enemy, it is also important that we do not lose sight of our own welfare, our social condition, our economic welfare. It is vitally important that we not forget the economy, and that the attack on September 11 did not change the necessity for seeing that we have a prosperous and successful economic condition, in America, in Japan, and to the extent that we can help, throughout the world.

And we are pleased to see that Prime Minister Koizumi in a recent speech devoted so much time to the economy, and the welfare of the Japanese economy, and by inference the American economy. Because as Japan prospers America prospers, and as America prospers Japan prospers. We are not only allies, we are joined together in our economic and social welfare. As unlikely as that seems, after all these years, we are not only allies in terms of our defense of civilization, but we are willing partners in the economy and the evolution of the quality of civilization in the future.

My friends, none of these things are easy, none of them will be without controversy. Your Diet presently is engaged in debate on what measures to take. Having served so long in the American Congress, I have a terrible temptation to go sit in the distinguished visitors' gallery and watch. But I will not do that, because I do not wish to give the impression that we are trying to influence the outcome. What I will do is to tell you, as I have tried to do in these remarks, that I have high confidence that your will do the right thing, both in terms of our mutual defense, and in terms of our economic and social welfare.

I don't know of any greater compliment that one nation can express for another than mutual confidence. And my friends as American Ambassador in Tokyo, I am here to tell you that I expect our alliance and our friendship to endure, I expect the world will be better off for our cooperation, and I am sure it will be a better place in which to live because of our combined effort. I thank you.

Moderator: Thank you very much, Ambassador Baker, for very insightful remarks. We would now like to move into the Q & A Session. Mr. Haruna, could you take over. We are now going into Q&A Session.

Mr. Haruna: Now, we have received a number of questions from the members of the press, almost all related to this terrorist attack recently. But having heard representation by the Ambassador, I am sure you have been deeply impressed. At the State of Union message, the U.S. Presidents state about the State of the Union. In doing so, the Presidents usually say the State of the Union is sound. Now, having listened to the Ambassador's speech, you would know that the state of the U. S.-Japan relationship is sound and even stronger. I believe that was the message that he has given to us. What is your view, I wonder, now?

I am sure the audience has received your message that the state of the relationship is very sound and strong, and I believe that was your message.

Ambassador Baker: I wanted to convey two messages. The first is that the friendship and alliance is strong and vital, and the other, I guess, is that the best is yet to come because I think that as we continue our collaboration, cooperation and friendship that there will be a better day, perhaps with less terrorism, perhaps with greater economic and social success. But my point is that the friendship and alliance between Japan and the United States is certainly more than a military arrangement. It has to do as well with the combination of other culture and our determination and our contribution to the future.

Question: Thank you very much. Now we have received a number of questions concerning this terrorist attack. I am sorry about this very direct question but when is the U. S. going to involve itself in the war? Are you going to attack the area after you identify the whereabouts of Bin Laden? What is the purpose of the war that you are going to conduct? Those are my direct questions to you. I am sorry about this directness.