Transcript: Amb. Baker Discusses Japanese Antiterrorism Efforts

Following is a transcript of Baker's remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed:


Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the warmth of your welcome. Thank you, as well, for the podium because you see those who know me know that unless I stand up you may not see me. But on the other hand, my late father-in-law once said when asked, "Why Nancy married him?" He replied: "Well, he's not very big, but he's loud." And I've managed to redeem that reputation now for many years. I also understand you had a podium for my friend Fritz Mondale - former Vice President Mondale - when he spoke here. And perhaps this one is more substantial. Is that a fair question? Because I understand, as well, that it did not stand up well to his presentation. But my friends, in seriousness, I'm pleased to be here and pay my respects to the club and to its officers and those at the head table who have kindly offered me this chance to speak and to the friends I find here in the audience. It's a delight to be with you.

I'd like to preface my remarks by telling you that, in all fairness, I feel at home here with the press because it is obvious and clear that in the course of my public career I have never had a cross word with the press, have never been misquoted, I have never been upset by what you say, no reporter has ever asked me an unexpected question. And I do ask you not to spoil that record here today.

But one reason that I'm happy to be here and feel so at home is that I think I already know this audience well. While I've not met most of you personally, I meet you virtually every morning because you see since I've not yet mastered the Japanese language and idiom, I depend on the newspapers that arrive at the Embassy and are placed on my table for breakfast. And I see your bylines, I read your pieces, and I thought the other day, you know, it's passing strange that the U.S. Ambassador depends in large measure in keeping up with current events on Japanese sources. But maybe it's not so strange because it does give me a perspective that I perhaps would not have any other way. And I must say I enjoy reading those papers in the morning and that I even manage to throw in the Asian Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times just to sort of dilute things a little bit. But the press is an important part of the public governance of America and its an important part of the governance of Japan as well because not only are you the collectors of information and the conscientious reporters of current affairs, but you also are the raw material out of which opinions are formed and policies are derived. So I'm especially glad to be here and to have this opportunity to talk to you today.

I'm told that my agenda should be my role as Ambassador and to discuss U.S.-Japan relationships. May I digress for a moment to say that it is a little short of astonishing to me that Japan and the United States are so close and are such friends and are so effectively allied. Because, indeed, it has not been many years - only a few decades - when we were enemies involved in mortal combat. Yet since that time, America has embraced Japan and, I believe, Japan has embraced America. Our cultures have meshed and complemented each other to an extent that I believe almost no one would have imagined thirty, forty, or fifty years ago.

The house in which we now reside, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, was built in 1930 - and, by the way, was the first American Embassy residence to be purpose-built. That is, built as an American Embassy residence. And it has been occupied by a succession of great Ambassadors, but it is also the place where General Douglas MacArthur resided during the Occupation. And I've read a great deal about that. And I marvel, as well, how this country embraced MacArthur and his ideas - and how his legacy has lived on, not just in that house, but in your Constitution, in your viewpoints and ideas, but mostly in terms of the cordial and close relationship between our two countries. It was my privilege earlier this year to entertain in that residence former Vice President Mondale -- who served here as you know, as a distinguished Ambassador - and to learn from him of his experiences in this great country and to identify the issues that were dealt with during his tenure here. It is also my pleasure to have known firsthand and to have served in the Senate briefly with Mike Mansfield, who is perhaps the arch-typical American Ambassador to Japan. And to this day, I think visitors expect me to prepare coffee. But I attended a memorial service for Mike the other day, after he passed away. His daughter was there and we had a moment to chat and to have dinner together at the Embassy residence. And she recalled how her father always prepared coffee for his visitors. And I debated long and hard with my conscience before I decided that I would level with this nice lady and tell her it is true: Mike showed that hospitality and the cordiality of those visits, but that coffee was the abomination - and anyone who tasted it would certainly agree with that.

But I've had the opportunity, as well, to entertain at the residence most recently the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Denny Hastert. Speaker Hastert is a remarkable person and I found out, which I did not know before, that he has many Japanese friends and that he worked in Japan as a young man when he was hired to teach colloquial English - not academic, but colloquial English - to guides for the Osaka Exposition. So we had a good visit and reminisced not only about the past relationship between our countries, but also about the current relationship between our nations.

It is my firm and fixed view that the friendship and alliance and inter-relationship between Japan and the United States continues to grow and unfold. While in many ways, we are more similar now than we were perhaps at any other time, both nations have preserved their heritage and tradition, their separate cultures, and both have reinforced the other in terms of our place in the scheme of things in world affairs. More recently, the friendship and alliance between the United States and Japan was dramatically illustrated in this country's instantaneous support for the United States in the wake of September 11, engaging in our fight against terrorism wherever it is found. I marvel at how fast your country reacted. I marvel at how fast the Diet enacted the necessary and enabling legislation. I marvel at how the people of this country appeared to have wholeheartedly and unreservedly understood the nature of the universal fight against terrorism. The United States and Japan have forged a unique relationship in the wake of September 11, as have so many others around the world. But I think this relationship is particularly important because it not only shows the friendship and cooperation between our two nations, but in a very special way, it shows that Japan has become an important player - not only on the economic scene of the world, but a player in international relations as well. So I commend the Prime Minister. I commend the Diet, the people of this great nation, for their willing undertaking of a noble cause - and that is to find and punish terrorism wherever it occurs.

Recently, we had a visit from Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill - and they were accompanied, of course, by the usual phalanx of officialdom including sub-cabinet officials who participated in an unprecedented international conference. On January 21 and 22, Japan took center stage in the world's diplomatic efforts to begin the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country of Afghanistan by hosting the "International Conference of Reconstruction Assistance for Afghanistan." And once again, not only was this important in its own right, and skillfully executed - and, by the way, may I pay special tribute to Ms. Ogata, who chaired the meeting with such skill and dignity. But it also underscored the importance of Japan in the scheme of things - not only in support of the war against terrorism, but in a prominent place in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and thus by extrapolation to attending to the needs of the deprived world.

The conference marked a significant landmark in Afghanistan's effort to rejoin the community of nations, as the Afghan people strive to leave behind two tragic decades of conflict and misrule. The meeting was also significant for the extraordinary display of international cooperation as 61 countries and 21 organizations gathered and made significant pledges of support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and committed to coordinate closely in the efforts to build peace, stability and prosperity in that country and in this region. The conference co-chairs - Japan, the United States, Saudi Arabia and the European Union - worked closely and effectively to coordinate the conference that the Japanese government made enormous efforts to ensure a successful meeting. The world owes Japan a debt of gratitude for taking the lead and hosting this conference, and that is why, in his interview with NHK television, Secretary of State Powell thanked the Japanese people for taking on that special responsibility.

Looking at the tangible results of the International Conference of Reconstruction Assistance for Afghanistan, it was by any and all measures a resounding success. In his January 21 remarks to the conference, Secretary Powell underscored President Bush's message that the United States will stand with Afghanistan for the long run and the long-term fully committed, and that commitment was echoed by the other three co-chairs in the closing session of the conference. Noting that the United States already led the world in humanitarian food aid to Afghanistan, some $400 million over the past two years alone, the Secretary announced an initial U.S. contribution of $296 million in the 2002 fiscal year, and explained that this is to be just the first contribution in a multi-year effort by the United States. In addition to that, overall the participants pledged more than $1.8 billion for the first year of the reconstruction effort, exceeding the amount thought necessary in a needs assessment study conducted by the World Bank, UN Development Program and the Asian Development Bank. Some countries offered single-year pledges, some offered multi-year pledges, some offered monetary contributions and some offered in-kind contributions, but all told the total sum of pledges came to $4.5 billion or more.

The Tokyo Conference was the latest example of Japan demonstrating exemplary leadership on the world stage. Immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Japan offered its full moral and diplomatic support - and the instant outpouring of sentiment from the Japanese people was heartwarming indeed - and demonstrated the strength and closeness of the bilateral relationship between our two countries. May I digress for a brief moment, once again, to tell you of my personal experience in that respect.

My wife and I were in the United States when that attack occurred. We'd attended conferences in San Francisco, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the treaty between the United States and Japan, and then in her home state of Kansas in Wichita for the Midwest Conference on friendship between our countries. We left on the tenth of September and traveled to Chicago to be in place for the flight the next day to Tokyo, which of course did not fly. Nor did any other flight travel to Tokyo on the next day. But we were there for five days and finally came back to Tokyo on ANA, the first flight out, and I went directly to the U.S. Embassy - my responsibility post. And when I arrived, I saw a long line of people outside the gate - and this was late in the afternoon, early evening. And as I examined it, I saw that so many of them had floral tributes that they were laying at the gate. No one had advertised that. It had not been promoted by the American Embassy, but to me it was a genuine outpouring of the friendship of the Japanese people for America, their sorrow at the occurrence - not just the death of Japanese, but so many Americans and others. And it also signaled to me that this is a relationship that is not only sound and secure, but enduring and important.

But back to the matter at hand. The Tokyo Conference, as I say, was only the latest example of Japan's emerging leadership on the world stage. It is notable that the government of Japan responded so quickly in its support for the war on terrorism and, as I have mentioned previously, that the Japanese Diet acted so promptly. That is particularly impressive to me, my friends, since not only did I spend eighteen years in the United States Senate - eight of those years as either Minority Leader of Majority Leader. But as I've told our friends in Japan, including the Prime Minister and many others, I cannot conceive of the American Congress acting as promptly as the Japanese Diet did - and I congratulate you for it. It was important legislation. It is an important new statement of policy by Japan toward the scourge of terrorism throughout the world, and it was admired worldwide. Japan's contribution to this "new war" has been substantial and real - and certainly not just symbolic. The logistical support that Japan has provided in refueling ships, for instance, has been essential in sustaining allied forces in the region. The controls the Japanese government has placed on the sources of terrorist financing is another important measure that deserves commendation from all of us.

Just as Japan has taken a central role in world diplomacy and an impor
tant role in the war on terrorism, it is and must play a crucial role in the evolution of development of the next phase of the world economy. Secretary O'Neill's decision to remain in Tokyo after the conference in order to meet with his Japanese government counterparts is indicative of the importance we place on our cooperation with Japan on economic, trade and financial matters. It is our fundamental belief that a strong Japanese economy is in the United States' national interest and important for the health of the entire world. By the same token, while I would not presume to speak for the Japanese people or your government, I believe it is perceived here that a strong, vital, and prosperous America is important to Japan, as well. Our economies and our societies are so intertwined, it is not an exaggeration to say that when the U.S. prospers, Japan prospers. And when Japan prospers, America will prosper. You are not only the second largest economy in the world, but working together, the United States and Japan are the prime engines of economic growth and prosperity. Our friends in the EU, of course, are an important part of that, but speaking here in Tokyo - my duty station - I tell you now, there is no more important relationship - economically, strategically, in foreign policy, socially, culturally - than that which exists and continues to grow between Japan and the United States.

And, of course, both of us have our problems. It seldom does much good to write catalogues of problems - and besides that, I find it depressing in the extreme. But we do have problems - financial problems, economic problems... America, I think, is on the brink of recovery from our recession. I've said publicly before - and I've not been chastised so far by my government - I am convinced that we have put in place the steps that are necessary in America to turn around our economy and I fully expect and anticipate that some time this year, perhaps in the third and fourth quarters, we will see significant improvements in the level of American economic activity.

I am also optimistic, my friends, about the future of Japan and its financial situation. I am not so intimately familiar with the steps that you have taken or must take, but I am convinced that you and Japan understand fully the importance of your economic distress and the necessity to address the issues promptly and effectively. I fully anticipate that when President Bush arrives in Japan that he will once more express his support for Prime Minister Koizumi's reform programs. The President and the Prime Minister have become more than just colleagues, in my view - and I've seen them together now a number of times. But they are friends, as well. And that may not sound important in the scheme of things, but believe me, it is. It facilitates frank, easy conversation and mutual understanding. But I fully expect that the President will reiterate his support for the Koizumi program and his support for the efforts of this government to try to reform the economy and to restore prosperity and economic vigor in this great nation.

Treasury Secretary O'Neill stressed the confidence our government has in the Prime Minister, as well, and the conviction that he will be able to and will persist in carrying out his plans for reform. The Secretary voiced his confidence in Japan when he spoke at another local press club and said: "I am ... a strong optimist on Japan, and view this period as a time of great opportunity for policy to bring about a change for the better. Decisive actions are necessary to solve difficult problems, and the United States supports Prime Minister Koizumi's commitment to take decisive actions." (The end of the quote from Secretary O'Neill.) He then said: "I firmly believe that the Japanese miracle is not finished and is not in the past. Returning Japan to robust and durable growth is of the utmost importance not only to Japan, but to the United States and the rest of the world."

So in this view, what do I think lies ahead? I think from the varied activities of the American Embassy in Tokyo, even the most casual observer will understand that the U.S.-Japan relationship is more than an alliance, it is a partnership, it is alive and well, busy and vital. We've just completed successful working visits to Japan by, as I said the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury. The Deputy U.S. Trade Representative was in Tokyo for consultations about trade and a speech on January 24 at this club. The United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea met in Seoul on January 25 to consult about our common policy and common concerns about North Korea as part of a series of such meetings known as the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG), yet another example of the U.S. and Japan working closely together towards a common diplomatic goal for our mutual benefit.

Next month, when President Bush makes his first visit to Japan, I look forward to showing him firsthand some of the things that I've learned about this great nation in the short time that I've been here - and that I've come to so fully appreciate and admire. He has met with your Prime Minister at international meetings such as the G-8 and APEC and hosted him twice for summit meetings at the White House. They do indeed have a good rapport. President Bush enjoyed hosting Prime Minister Koizumi and it will be nice to see how the President enjoys the hospitality of your nation in return. But you can be certain that when the President comes to Japan, what he will find is a country that is a friend of America, a friend and an ally and a partner in the fullest sense of the word. He will find a people who can be proud of their accomplishments and their place in the world. My wife Nancy and I are looking forward to introducing the President to this country, the country that we've come to know and I know that you ladies and gentlemen of the press will make him feel welcome as well. I am confident that the future of our two great nations and the stability of peace in the world will be advanced because of the friendship and alliance between Japan and the United States. It's my pleasure to be American Ambassador to Tokyo, it is my pleasure to say these words, and thank you for listening, and I'll be happy to try to answer your questions. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Petra News Agency. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador, for your insights. I'm not sure if you have the chance to read the Arabic newspapers or Arabic press, but if you really have a chance, you will find a lot of criticism to the policy of the United States. Basically toward the Palestinian issue, they think that America is supposed to be a leader and taking a leadership role in trying to help in solving the problems, but it seems the latest statements by Mr. President Bush that it's a little bit against the Palestinian leader, Mr. Arafat. So I'm wondering if you have any update about the latest American policy toward this area and how do you think Japan would be a contributor to this solution of the problem. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Well, the first questions always, or almost always, the hardest question. Can you hear me? Is this working okay? I'd hoped that it might not be. But the serious answer to your question is I would remark first that in recent years, since the mid-1950s, there has been no single element of foreign policy that has required more attention and to which has been devoted more energy and thought than relationships in the Middle East. It is a continuing problem that has not yet found satisfactory resolution. But the fact that we suffer many disappointments in trying to mediate peace between the conflicting parties of the Middle East is no reason why America should stop trying and, indeed, we will. The President has recently, or America has recently, expressed some frustration with the level of progress and cooperation - perhaps even some criticism of Mr. Arafat. But you've never heard, I believe, a single word that suggests that America has lost faith in the future of this area and our ability to be helpful and a contributor to the solution. The problems in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israelis is virtually as old as the region. I wish I could sit here and tell you that I see and prospect an early solution. I do not. What I do see in prospect is a continuing effort to understand, to act and to hope for a better time for all the parties of the Middle East, without reference to their location, their creed, their religion or the level of conflict. That is perhaps too optimistic, but as I said earlier in my remarks, my friends, I am by instinct and intuition optimistic. But I remain optimistic that the world will find a way to promote peace, not only in the Middle East, but in other troubled regions of the world. And I commend the President, the Secretary of State and so many others who have addressed so much attention to this issue and I hope we have early solutions.

QUESTION: Jim Brooke, The New York Times. Mr. Ambassador, when you were Chief of Staff for Reagan, essentially the U.S. started to get its finances into order. We'd kind of ignored 10 years of lecturing by the Europeans and Japanese on that score. Now the shoe is on the other foot and for several years we've been, Larry Summers was lecturing and O'Neill was maybe nudging, different styles but the same message. The U.S. did it under your administration because of domestic concerns. I'm just wondering what you're seeing here. There is this gaiatsu, this outside pressure, are you seeing that domestically there is an interest in changing or are people just kind of listening to the foreigners lecture?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Well, you're exactly right. I hope, at least, that there is a perception in Japan that we have not come, I have not come, to lecture the people of this country or their government and I preface almost every meeting by saying first and foremost I understand and recognize that Japan is a great sovereign nation and that they are perfectly capable of solving their own problems. That you have enormous resources to bring to bear on the problems and I have high confidence that you will address them and address them in an appropriate way. I confess that sometimes I go on and give illustrations of what I think the priorities might be in trying to solve these problems and not infrequently they deal with things like banks and non-performing loans and things like that. The one area I do not ever speak of and will not today - and which, I believe, our Secretary of the Treasury avoided successfully - was to talk about currency exchange, the value of the yen. If there is anything that is more stultifying than trying to talk about monetary policy for another country, I cannot think of it. So, I do not do that, but I must confess to you I do share the American experience on banking, on tax policy, on methods to resuscitate our own economy and perhaps how they might be applicable to Japan. But I do that in the confidence and privacy of small groups, like this, and I do it only where I know you will not repeat me so it is true, Jim, we do in a different way perhaps, but we have the same objective as the U.S. government had when Larry Summers was Secretary of the Treasury, that is to see a healthy, vigorous Japanese economy because - as I said in my earlier remarks - our economies are so intertwined that it is essential that we prosper together.

QUESTION: Rebecca McKinnon, CNN. Ambassador Baker, I am wondering if you might be persuaded to share with us a little bit of advice perhaps you may be giving about the balance between the role of the government and of the private sector in turning around the Japanese economy. Now, this morning I was speaking to the CEO of a major Japanese company who had been successful in getting rid of a lot of their debt, turning the company from serious losses to profit, and this particular CEO was commenting that he thought that a lot of CEOs here in Japan are kind of sitting and waiting for the government to do something and perhaps may not be taking enough initiative on their own to really sit in the driver's seat of the recovery. And knowing that you're with a Republican administration and Republican administration's tend to favor more private action versus government lead, if you could share some thoughts on whether you think the private sector here is doing enough to move things along.

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Rebecca, I suppose it's never enough, but I must say that I have an admiration for Japanese enterprise and the leadership of Japanese companies. By and large, they're very high quality, very well informed and have a depth of understanding of the overall economic situation in Japan - as well, perhaps, as in any country I know of. The distinction is the levers of power, really, in terms of reform, banking, for instance, and the like, are not in private hands. They are essentially that of the government and actually while many of our friends in business could probably give good advice and often do give good advice to their governments, it's not a question so much of the availability of advice or even the relevance of advice as it is the will and determination to carry it into effect. I might comment, and this is perhaps further than I should go, but it's my observation that Japan - especially in economic matters - does not operate in a steady gradient, but rather in steps. And I fully expect that Japan will approach the question of its economic malaise carefully, but when they decide to act that they will act in fairly dramatic ways. That may be in terms of rationalizing the non-performing loan issue. It may be in terms of privatizing public corporations. It may be - and then you could go down the list - but I am not disturbed, frankly, that Japan takes it time to think through those and to prioritize them according to your needs, Japan's needs. And I conclude that by telling you that I'm still optimistic that Japan will meet these demands, these challenges, and will work it out. But the example of private enterprise in Japan is a good example and I am sure our friends in government understand that, appreciate it and consult extensively as we do in America on how best to approach the solution to these problems, but it is the government's first responsibility to put in place the machinery that is necessary to address the overall problems of economic distress in Japan and I think they will.

QUESTION: Sam Jameson, Asian Business. You've mentioned the trilateral coordination on North Korea between South Korea, Japan and the United States. Is this likely to be a subject that President Bush is bringing in as much as he will also be visiting South Korea after Japan - have you discussed this with the Japanese? The United States and Japan seem to be in a position of stalemate vis-a-vis North Korea, whereas South Korea is urging the United States to be more forward and do something about North Korea. Has this terrorist issue made that impossible?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: No, I don't think the terrorist question has made it impossible and I really don't accept the idea that the consideration of the relationship is stalemated. I think that perhaps the adoption of new points of view or further advance in the normalizing of relationships, perhaps, has sort of slowed down in the wake of September 11, but so has almost everything else. But I think there's a continuous process of consideration of that relationship. Most recently, I think expressed in our government's position that we're willing to talk to anybody, anywhere, anytime and indeed we are, but that stops short of saying how our relationship with North Korea should be structured. In that connection, by the way, I have the strong view that the final design of that may depend as much on what North Korea says and does, as it does on the innovative originality of America and Japan. But I would fully expect that when the President is here that that will be a subject of conversation, both in Japan and in Seoul. I would fully expect that there will be a full comparison of ideas and suggestions, but beyond that I am not prepared to predict how it will finally end. What I conclude with is saying, as I did earlier, that it is the American government's position that we are willing to talk, we are willing to negotiate anywhere, any place, any time and we will see how that translates into useful conduct.

QUESTION: [INAUDIBLE], Switzerland. Could you comment or stress on the image which the region should take from affect that when President Clinton visited China for 9 full days, he didn't have time to come to Japan and your President now, before he goes to China, comes to Japan and spends equal time in Japan and China?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: I commend the President for good judgment and you may also assume that the American Embassy had strong views on that subject.

QUESTION: Steve Herman, AP Radio and Network. Mr. Ambassador, I'm wondering if you could assess the job that Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka is doing?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: My friend, I would remind that I am the American Ambassador to Japan and that she is the Foreign Minister of Japan and that I have a cordial, good personal relationship with her. And beyond that, I decline to say.

QUESTION: Hans Gremmel, Associated Press. You say that when President Bush comes to visit, the top priority will be showing support for Koizumi's reform efforts. What is, in the United States point of view, what is the most important aspect of that reform effort and why is it important to the United States? What's in it for the United States?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Well, those are good questions. Let me try to break it apart and do it from a little different way. I have already said at least once that, you know, the relationship between Japan and the United States economically and strategically is unparalleled any place else in the world, perhaps, but it ranks among the very highest order of importance. So it's important that the President recognizes that, in my view, as I expect he will. It's important that the President expresses our gratitude for what Japan has done so far - and admiration. It's important that we express our willingness to cooperate with Japan on other issues in the field of foreign policy, but also in domestic and economic policy. What's in it for America? I don't think it's judged on that basis: What's in it for America? But I do think that the fact is, as I said also earlier, when America prospers, Japan prospers; when Japan prospers, America prospers. And I think it would be difficult to over-describe the inter-relationship between our two countries and our two economies and our importance to each other. So if the President came to Tokyo without any agenda except just to discuss the state of the relationship and to explore new ideas, it would be worthwhile. But as I also said earlier, my guess is the President will come with an agenda which includes the items that I've just identified - that is an expression of gratitude, thanks for the support that has happened so far underscoring the importance of getting our economic houses in order, and our willingness to cooperate but not to try to dominate the economic relationships between our two countries.

QUESTION: Hajime Ozaki, Kyodo News. Could you shed some light on the Enron issue? It's very complicated and very difficult to understand for us and for me it's very difficult to understand why Vice President, Mr. Cheney, rejected cooperation to the request from the Congress. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Well, I can understand your puzzlement over that, but let me once again break it into two parts. The first part is purely the legal part. In the American system, it is as old as the Constitution that there is a clear and clean separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branches. And what that means is the legislative branch cannot require the executive branch to do certain things and the executive branch cannot require the legislative branch to do certain things. They are separate. They are not independent, but they are separate and from the beginnings of the republic, they have guarded that separateness and that independence. I experienced that when I was Chief of Staff for President Reagan and in many cases, perhaps even most cases, when a President decides, or a Vice President who has the same authority, decides to stand on the doctrine of separation of powers, it is almost always subject to suspicion. Why is he doing that? Why doesn't he just come clean? And the answer is because of what I just said. If you're to preserve the two-track system, that is the independence of two coordinate branches of government, you cannot do that. Or if you do it, you must do it on an agreed basis so that you do not damage the doctrine of separation of powers. Now that's the legal side. From a practical side, there is no doubt in my mind that coming forward with all the facts and disclosing them publicly would dispose of this issue faster and more efficiently and I am sure more satisfactorily. But I don't know what the facts are. I do know that I do not criticize any president or vice president for invoking the doctrine of separation of powers. It is virtually sacred in the scheme of American governments and I would not like to see it change. So as Vice President Cheney may be subject to criticism, perhaps even by some in this room, I must tell you that only he and the President can make a judgment on whether they're willing to take that political punishment in order to preserve the doctrine of separation of powers. I cannot answer that for them, only those in the arena can answer that and in this case that means the President and the Vice President.

QUESTION: Jonathan Watts, Guardian Newspaper. It's often said that September 11 changed the world in so many different ways. I wonder if you could talk about that in particular with regard to Okinawa. Has the war on terror made any difference in the way that America sees the importance of its bases in Okinawa?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Well, that is a very important question, indeed. And it is true that the events of September 11 changed the world in many ways. To begin with, it is virtually unprecedented that more than 90 nations would join together on any subject, the war on terrorism being the one at hand. It is, by the way, an opportunity for the nations of the world to lay aside some of their disagreements and to see if they can build on that for other things other than just the fight against terrorism. Having 90 nations agree on anything is extraordinary so I hope and I think that those nations, certainly the United States, will try to build on that togetherness for the sake of other issues. On the specific issue of Okinawa, I would - once again - say that in order to answer you I have to go back one space. In talking to many in Japan, I tell them that I understand the burden that Okinawa bears for American personnel and bases. But I also understand, and I believe most Japanese understand, that if there is to be an American shield in the Pacific, if the alliance between Japan and the United States is to be more than a paper document, if in fact we are allied together in trying to promote stability and peace in the region, there must be some basis for projecting power from the United States and that is Okinawa. Without Okinawa, to retreat to - retreat is not the right word - but to replace our forces, say, in Guam, which would not be possible, or in Hawaii, which would be too distant, is impractical. So we understand the burden we place on Japan and more particularly on Okinawa and I only hope and trust, and I think that Japan and Okinawans understand the importance of that, and have shown so far a remarkable patience and understanding of that. In exchange for that, as many of our officials have said including Secretary of State Powell most recently, we will do our best to reduce that burden on Okinawa. We will do our best to see that we are good neighbor. We will point out that the young men and women who are in Okinawa in American Armed Forces are not there by choice. They are there because they were sent there. But we will try to make sure that they conduct themselves as they should conduct themselves, while at the same time trying to reduce our imprint and our burden on Okinawa. But I do believe - I think our country believes - that if we are to give substance and meaning to the alliance between the United States and Japan for the stability and peace of this region, that there must be a major presence in Okinawa.

QUESTION: Roger Shreffler. This is not a Japan question, but regarding the separation of powers answer you just gave in the Enron case, I know the issues are complex but are you suggesting that your former friends in Congress, some of your former colleagues, might have been less than sacred perhaps even wrong in pressuring a Democratic president to testify.

AMBASSADOR BAKER: No, I don't think it's that at all. The separations of power is a document that is constantly tested and challenged and I expect it will continue to be. And I speak with some personal experience in this field because I would point out to you that perhaps I was principally responsible for the ultimate challenge on separation of powers. That is during the Watergate hearings, when it became obvious that we could not do our jobs as a committee of the Congress unless we had access to the presidential tapes, there is a great debate about whether we would try to subpoena them or not and it was uncertain that the courts would permit us to do it. But I told Sam Irvine, who was the Democratic chairman of the committee and I was the senior Republican, I said, "Sam, if there's gonna be a motion to issue subpoenas, it should be made by a Republican" so it is fully bipartisan and not misunderstood. And I did that and it passed unanimously in the committee and the congress and was finally upheld by the Supreme Court. So it's a continuing challenge between the two branches and as the Supreme Court has said whether or not you breach the doctrine of separation of powers depends on the gravity of the offense. And the Supreme Court may be asked someday," What do you mean by the gravity of the offense" and no doubt the Supreme Court will say, "It means whatever I say it is" because in the final analysis, the Supreme Court is the arbiter of that doctrine, that is separation of powers like it is of every other piece of law in the American system. But I do not think of that as diminishing the doctrine. I have no apology for my participation in that, no criticism of those who attempt to do so now, but I express my view that the doctrine itself is sacrosanct in the American political system and only in the most extraordinary circumstances should it be breached. And unless and until that is demonstrated, I would not do it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have run out of time, but I want to say one more thing, if I may. You've been a good audience and your questions are penetrating and I hope my answers were adequate, but I'm reminded of something my father told me years ago. My dad, by the way, was a member of the House of Representatives. He was a Congressman - and unlike his son, he was a very good Congressman - but he was also a lawyer and unlike his son a very good lawyer, but I'd finished my first argument to a jury in Tennessee, my first case. And I thought I did pretty well and I sat down and said to my father, who was the council at the table, I said, "How did I do?" He said, "You did okay, but in the future you should guard against speaking more clearly than you think." My friends, I hope I've not done that today. 

Thank you very much.