U.S.-Japan Ambassadorial Forum in Tokyo:

U.S.-Japan Relations Post 9/11

Japan Foundation International Conference Room
October 23, 2002
Tokyo, Japan

Ambassador Howard Baker:

Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador, my old friend, Bill, and my colleagues on this panel, all of whom I'm well acquainted with and value our friendship and associations over the years. I'm delighted to be here. And I thank you for the opportunity to participate in this program and I express my gratitude to all of those in the audience for giving us this opportunity to speak together.

One of my predecessors, one of our predecessors, on the U.S. side, Mike Mansfield, was fond of saying often that the bilateral relationship between the United States and Japan is the most important bilateral relationship in the world. And it was when Mike said it; in my opinion, it is so today. We are not only the two largest economies in the world, we are also the best friends. We are not only allies, but we are cooperators in the matter of the world economy and the world's peace and security. The relationship between Japan and the United States is truly unique.

There are many problems that confront the world today. There are three, in particular, that this panel will focus on today. And, as you know, they are: first, the question of the war on terrorism; on peace on the Korean Peninsula; and the pace and success of economic prosperity in the world. I would like, if I may, to speak of each of those for a moment.

I don't know what the terrorist forces had in mind when they launched their attack on the World Trade Center in New York, but I'm fairly confident that the result which ensued was not what they had in mind because ,in the wake of that attack, there was a coming together of free men and women around the world, and an alliance of the forces of freedom against the forces of terror. Virtually every civilized nation in the world joined together in the alliance and commitment against terrorism. No country was faster or more efficient in expressing their opposition to terrorism and joining the fight against terrorism than Japan. Our President has often expressed, and I will repeat today: We are grateful for Japan's help in this continuing battle against terrorism. We understand the commitment that you have made and we appreciate the fact that it is an expression of the fundamental importance of the Japan-U.S. relationship.

The war on terrorism continues and, no doubt, will for a long time to come. But our commitment in our country and Japan and in other parts of the world to see that we win the battle against terrorism is undiminished by time. We will combine our resources, our talent, our intellect in a matter of identifying terrorist threat, providing against it, and eliminating it around the world.

Prime Minister Koizumi was among the first to express the support of free peoples everywhere and of the Japanese nation in the fight against terrorism. And President Bush has often repeated his statement of appreciation for that support ,as well as his expression of admiration for the strength, the courage, and the determination of the Prime Minister, his government, and the people of Japan.

But terrorism is not the only challenge that faces free men and women and certainly not the only challenge here in East Asia and in thePacific. Most recently, it has come to light that there has been an acknowledgment by the DPRKby North Koreaof their development of a uranium-enrichment program suitable for production of uranium-based atomic weapons. That had been long suspected. It had been long remarked on and speculated about by intelligence agencies in governments, but it was not until Assistant Secretary Kelly's visit to North Korea that the North Koreans confirmed even perhaps belligerently confirmed that they possess this capability. It is clear by any fair reading of the Framework Agreement and by a number of other agreements that the North Korean commitment to the development of nuclear weapons through a parallel process of uranium enrichment is a violation of international norms and of particular agreements, but most especially of the Framework Agreement and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

It is the American position, which is supported by the government of Japan and, I believe, virtually every other nation in the world, that North Korea must cease and desist in this effort to produce nuclear weapons and to enrich uranium for that purpose. As President Bush has said, there must be a visible and credible elimination of this threat. And as Prime Minister Koizumi has said and as the President has agreed, before talks on normalization with North Korea can go forward, that this obstacle must be overcome.

The fundamental position of the United States is and has been for many years that we will talk to North Korea anyplace, anywhere, anytime, without condition, because we feel that peace on the Korean Peninsula is vital to peace in this region. But now with this new information, the President has declared that as a condition to normalization, that there must be a successful address to this question of North Korea's ambition to produce nuclear weapons that are based on enriched uranium.

The covert nuclear arms program in North Korea is of grave concern to the United States, to Japan, to Korea, and indeed to the entire world. We in the United States are proud to stand side-by-side with the people of Japan in the address to this grave issue.

I don't believe any peace-loving nation wants to see a nuclear-armed North Korea, and certainly not those who are in close proximity to the Korean Peninsula, such as Japan, South Korea, China, and others. It is an imminent threat in the hands of leadership that of uncertain commitment to peace. It is an issue that must be addressed and, as our President has said, it must be disposed of in a visible and credible way.

And finally, my friends, may I speak a word about the economy. I've mentioned earlier that Japan is the second largest economy in the world; the United States is the largest. I do not say that as a matter of pride, but to point up the fact that Japan and the United States represent a great deal of the economy of the entire world. But I would also point out that there's a fundamental truth that's emerging over the last many years and that is as the United States prospers, Japan prospers; and as Japan prospers, the United States prospers. We are intertwined economically. We are intertwined as friends and as allies. But the economy is a continuing problem here, not only because of the banking issues and deflation and other issues, but because we are concerned for that interrelationship between our nations that makes it important that we express our concern and offer our help and assistance to Japan in trying to redress these economic woes.

It is perhaps superfluous to say, but perhaps also important to say, that the economists of the world have more experience and more success in trying to contain inflation than they do in trying to remedy deflation. And Japan's problem now is largely and essentially one of deflation. But it must be addressed and it must be addressed :through a sound banking system, through a sound economic policy, through a consistent application of international norms, through trade, through investment, Japan and the United States are the two largest trading partners Japan, as America's largest trading partner outside our continent. Our future lies in our ability to sustain that trade and to make it mutually beneficial. So we have a distinct, important, and continuing interest in how Japan addresses these problems of your banking problems, of deflation, and other issues of that type.

I might say parenthetically that my home state in the United States is the state of Tennessee ,and in Tennessee we are always proud to say that we have more capital investment from Japan than any other state in the union except California. And it is widely welcomed in Tennessee. You are citizens of our state. You're accepted as part of our community and I believe it is an example of how not only international cooperation, but international investment, can contribute to the welfare of both nations.

We have great challenges before us, my friends, but both in the United States and Japan we have the democratic institutions; we have the traditions of freedom; we have will and determination against the threats of terrorism; we have the imagination about how it is that we accommodate new threats, like a nuclear Korean Peninsula; how we go about extending the benefits of trade and commerce between our nations; and how we continue to lead the way as partners in the world's progress.

I'm proud to be here in Japan to speak for my country. I'm proud to be here today on this platform. Thank you very much.

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For more information, contact Press Attache Patrick J. Linehan at 3224-5271 (E-mail: pjl-jpn@pd.state.gov) or Deputy Press Attache Judith L. Bryan at 3224-5262 (E-mail: BryanJL@pd.state.gov)

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