Ambassador Howard H. Baker, Jr. Speech at Chuo University

June 14, 2002

President Suzuki, Chairman Abe, faculty, staff, students, and distinguished guests-I'm especially pleased to see my old friend, Ambassador Yanai, here. I felt that I was in danger that Ambassador Yanai had already heard everything I had to say. We served together in Washington and I am pleased now to be in Tokyo. I have been here now for almost exactly one year. I came on July 2 last year and I must say that it is an extraordinary experience. My wife and I feel very much at home in Japan now. We feel settled in. We feel challenged. We feel our experience is most rewarding.

But it's especially pleasant for me to have the opportunity to come here today and to speak to you at Chuo University, which has played a vital role in the intellectual history of modern Japan. It's an honor for me to make this distinguished institution the venue for my first address to a student body in this country. My friends, you are Japan's future. You're its leaders and, as I learn more about Japan, I am more convinced than ever that this great country is changing and that you are change agents and will lead this nation and the world into a better life for the future.

It would not be appropriate, perhaps, on this day not to mention the World Cup, which provides an opportunity for my speech on US foreign policy, post-9/11 in Asia. My friends, while the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11 of last year shocked and horrified the international community, events like the World Cup remind us that world peace and international understanding are indeed possible. In a historic first, Japan and Korea are co-hosting these games and people all over the world are turning on their televisions at all hours of the day and night to cheer for their teams and for the excellence of athletics in our age. The teams may be jostling for the ball on the field, but in a very real way these games are a unifying force for the entire world.

I think we've seen the world come together to fight terrorism in the wake of September 11. People everywhere showed their sympathy and their resolve to work with us to eliminate terrorism. But it's not just America, my friends, because all the world's people are potential victims of terrorism. Not only were more than 3,000 people killed on that fateful day, but the entire outlook of the civilized world changed as it began to realize that terrorism knows no boundaries.

All Americans are grateful for the strong supportive stand that Japan took in the days following September 11. Your government recently decided to continue its support for counter-terrorism campaigns and we are grateful. But we make no mistake about it: Japan's contributions in the fight against terrorism are not just in friendship for the United States or as the result of the alliance of our two great countries. Japan's fight against terrorism is because it is in Japan's best interest to engage in this universal struggle against terrorism. And your nation has provided many important assets in that struggle. You have provided fuel to coalition ships. You have helped us root out and stop terrorist financing. The Japanese government also took a leading international role in hosting and cosponsoring the Afghan Reconstruction Conference. In that regard, Ambassador Yanai and our mutual friend, Ms. Ogata, brought not only a successful conclusion to the Afghan reconstruction effort but a special luster to the diplomacy of Japan and the leadership of women in this great nation.

Close cooperation with allies has always served as the foundation of American policy in Asia. This was true during the years of the Cold War; it is true today in the wake of 9/11. America's Asia-Pacific allies-Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand-are all contributing to counter-terrorist efforts. And it is the US-Japan Alliance in particular, however, that provides the cornerstone of America's foreign policy in this region. Our alliance has brought an era of peace in the Pacific that is virtually unprecedented, and has enabled this region to enjoy democracy and economic growth and prosperity.

The American vision for the Asia-Pacific region is based on the principles of shared strength, shared prosperity, and a shared commitment to democratic values. Japan is our key ally in fulfilling this unwavering vision. We are natural allies because we have a common interest in these shared values. Our countries work together to guarantee shared strength in order to protect ourselves from the threats of undemocratic regimes. And to this end, the United States maintains alliances with Asian partners and actively participates in regional security dialogues.

Under our Mutual Security Treaty, Japan provides facilities for US forces and these facilities are crucial to our ability to respond to any threat to Japan or to peace and stability in this region. Indeed, Japan's contributions to the security alliance, especially in providing facilities and host-nation support, are absolutely invaluable. I admire the Japanese people and their government, that they understand the importance of this vital role. I admire the cooperation that the people of Japan provide to the fight against terrorism, but I underscore what I said earlier: You do it, not in friendship for the United States or because of the alliance of our two nations, but you do it-I believe-because you know that it's in the best interest of Japan. And that's as it must be. Your actions in foreign policy and domestic policy here in Japan must first consider the interests of this nation, the people of this land, the peace and stability of this country. This is the way we Americans look at our alliance and our cooperation. America and Japan are good friends, but we are good friends because we share values. We are good friends because we understand the dangers that lurk in this modern world. And we are allies because it's in our mutual best interests for both countries.

There are many other parts of the world and in this region in which we share our concerns. The concerns, for instance, that we share about the humanitarian situation in North Korea, which does not enjoy the same democratic rights and personal freedoms that you do here in Japan and we do in America. Just last week, the US Agency for International Development announced that it will contribute an additional 100,000 tons of food to North Korea, which brings to a 155,000 tons of food in aid to that country this year. It's in the best traditions of democratic nations and conscientious citizens that this contribution is made freely and voluntarily to a nation that does not consider itself our friend, but because we address humanitarian needs. As President Bush emphasized in Seoul recently-at the summit meeting with President Kim-we are prepared to feed the people of North Korea, in spite of our ongoing concerns about the policies and the actions of the country's Communist rulers. That, too, is in the best traditions of high, good conscience in America and in Japan.

In addition to humanitarian assistance, a commitment to democracy and human rights continues to underpin US policy in Asia. These are fundamental American values and we firmly believe that democratization and respect for human rights will contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous region. That has not changed in the wake of 9/11.

We've recently hailed great progress in other parts of Asia: in Burma, in East Timor, where Japan has played an important stabilizing role, as we try to create an example for other nations to strive for freedom and democratic opportunity. Human rights is an overpowering, important issue that we must address in all parts of the world, but particularly by the great democracies like Japan and the United States. We urge China, our neighbor, to respect human rights, to respect religious freedom. The American view is that open societies are necessary to prosperity and indeed to security, not just in Asia but throughout the world.

A third principle buttressing America's Asian policy is shared prosperity. The United States wants a prosperous Asia-Pacific and a prosperous Japan. A strong Japanese economy is important for the region and for the entire world. We all have to remember that economics is not a zero-sum game. We compete in various sectors, but it is this very competition that promotes economic growth and innovation. Increased trade and international economic integration helps us to develop better products, more competitive business, and more jobs. And by creating opportunities for more people, free trade, and open economies, we thus reduce poverty and increase an individual's ability to reach his or her potential through their own work and effort.

In order to achieve shared prosperity, our country's policy has focused on opening markets and in promoting direct investment by nations around the world. And, of course, we wish to expand US exports and engage in bilateral and multilateral agreements to promote trade opportunities. Since Japan is our key partner in the region, we are naturally concerned about its ongoing economic problems. Recently, some commentators in Japan and the West have suggested that Japan lacks the will to make the necessary reforms. I could not disagree more. Japan is not only a great, rich nation-you are the second largest economy in the world-but you are also a great, sovereign nation that has a role to play on the world stage. You're a great leading nation that is committed to the advancement of civilization. It is, at least in part, through free trade that we extend those opportunities to other parts of the world. So in America, and I believe here in Japan, we will increasingly demonstrate our commitment to free trade here and throughout this region.

Since I first arrived in Japan, I have indicated to my Japanese hosts in the government that I have no desire to try to tell Japan what to do about its economy or anything else. I'm here as friend to share the American experience and to share with you our own experience in terms of reviving our economy and providing for our own prosperity. I am convinced that not only does Japan have the will to enhance and improve the level of your economic activity, and expand and extend the opportunities for individual prosperity and freedom, but that you also have the resources. You have a huge reservoir of resources in savings, in investment here and abroad. You have a population that is industrious, well educated, and committed to independence and freedom. You have a democratic government-freely elected. You endure the same political controversies that we do in America, but I believe you understand that it's through those controversies that you develop policies that will endure the challenges of our time. So Japan is well equipped, in my opinion, to meet its economic challenges as well as to play on the world stage as a great world power.

While reforms can be difficult and painful, the experience I share with my Japanese friends is-the sooner the better. The sooner the pain, the quicker the progress. And that, of course, must always be tempered by your own judgment about how fast your system can respond to these changes: your economic system, your social system, and your political system. I urge you to think, as future leaders of this country, that it is almost never so that postponing a problem makes it easier. So, you have enormous resources. You have a great and talented nation. You have great opportunities for the future. But it's important that you realize, as I'm sure you do, that problems seldom simply go away. They must be addressed.

It won't be many years before many of you, perhaps, in this audience will be actively engaged in trying to identify these problems and to suggest solutions for them. Whether they're political, economic, diplomatic, industrial, commercial, trade problems, environmental problems, educational problems, personal problems, the elaboration of personal freedom, you will soon have the leadership role in those fields. And if I would leave you with a single thought, it would be to remember that in this modern world where we can communicate instantaneously to every corner of the planet, in this world where we can travel to any corner of the world in a relatively short period of time, that ignoring problems seldom helps.

So as you participate in the formulation of future policy for this great nation, take advantage of the assets and resources that are available to you. Take advantage of the opportunity you have here, as students in this great university. Share your intelligence. Share your experience. Share your wisdom. Share your commitment to Japan. Share your understanding that free men and women around the world embrace the same objectives. Share your commitment to an understanding that terrorism is worldwide and that it's a new sort of conflict and that we must band together if we're to defeat it. Share your thought that it will not go away in a day or a week or a month or a year, but assuring freedom and prosperity will take a long time.

My friends, I have high confidence that you will do those things. I have high confidence you understand that the relationship of nations is indeed not a zero-sum game. You do not have to be an enemy of China in order to sustain a friendship relationship with us. You do not need to be a friend of the United States in order to share our ideals. Individual freedom and initiative is the secret to our prosperity worldwide.

My friends, the relationship between our two nations-as one of my predecessors, Ambassador and former Senator Mike Mansfield, had said so often-is "the most important bilateral relationship in the world." I believe that and I share his view because it is in these two free nations that we have the beginnings of a new era. So Japan and the United States owe an obligation to each other, but in a very real way to the rest of the world, to create this new prosperity, to protect these new freedoms, to make sure that we meet the challenge of terrorism, to meet the future on its own terms. But meeting the future on its own terms requires men and women of talent as well as commitment. And here you are preparing yourself for that challenge and you will soon undertake your leadership role. Perhaps none of you will remember this speech, but perhaps some of you will remember that I'm optimistic. I feel good about the future of mankind. I'm not in the least put off by the challenge of our time. I do not believe for one second that terrorism will defeat us. I cannot bring myself to think that economic terrorism will defeat the force of creativity in free and democratic people. I am an optimist, but I believe I'm an optimist based on the quality of the men and women I see before me here and would see in similar audiences in my own country.

If I keep talking, you will miss the soccer game. So I will stop. But I wish to tell you, my friends, that it's a matter of great enthusiasm for me that I have the chance to speak to you because you are indeed the future of Japan. Gambare Nippon! Good luck.

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