Ambassador Baker speaks at International Friendship Exchange Council

"The Japan-U.S. 150th Exchange Years Program"
June 30, 2003

MODERATOR: In commemoration of the 150-year anniversary of the friendship between Japan and the United States, we'd like to ask Ambassador Baker to give a speech.

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Mr. Hanioka, ladies and gentlemen. It's a great honor for me to be here today among distinguished guests and pieces of history, living history, that relate directly and immediately to the first relationship - first formal relationship - between Japan and the United States after the arrival of Commodore Perry. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe remarked on the recent conference between President Bush and the Prime Minister, and he correctly points out that both he and I were privileged to be there to witness that historic occasion. I will not repeat what he has said about it, except to say that it was an extraordinary event. It symbolized many things, but most especially the friendship and cordial relationship between the leaders of our two great countries. I've had the opportunity to get acquainted with the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary. I admire him greatly, and I thank him for his kind remarks about me here. Speaking of the abductee issue, he is absolutely correct that it was a matter discussed by President Bush and the Prime Minister. It is clear from that conversation that the importance of the event transcends just the importance of the human suffering and acute distress of the abductees and their families; but rather said something important about the humanity, the sympathy, and the human understanding of two great nations, each for the distress of these families and these victims.

My friends, friendship between nations is really nothing more than the sum total of individual relationships. Building friendships at the individual level is really the best long-term investment we can make for a peaceful and prosperous future for our nations. This is the work of the Friendship Exchange Council. You have been engaged in it for many years, and I commend you and congratulate you for this undertaking and your success in this endeavor. You are a great organization, and, my friends, I am delighted to be here with you, and to share this event.

I understand that you have recently established a special Japan-U.S. Exchange Committee to enhance people-to-people exchanges between our two nations on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of bilateral relations, which I believe to be a great initiative. I wish you every success in that and the other initiatives and endeavors of this great organization. Let me also say what a privilege it is to share this stage with Mr. Tokugawa. Thank you very much for permitting me to join with you today, and with the descendents of former Prime Minister Abe, as well. I remarked a moment ago that I am in the presence of a piece of living history, and I am delighted that I have this opportunity to share in the great traditions of the relationship between our two nations.

When I first accepted the request of President Bush that I serve as his Ambassador to Japan, I understood that I would follow in the footsteps of a long and distinguished line of Americans who have preceded me as our emissaries to this great nation and to her people. Japan's rapid rise since that time to become a great economic and political power has been remarkable and perhaps without precedent in the history of mankind. As we consider the history of our relations between our two nations, it behooves us to stop for a moment and think about how far we've come in just the past sixty years. Who could have predicted that we would grow to become the two largest economies in the world, that between us we would comprise almost forty percent of the world's total production? Who would have said that we would be working together to keep peace and to make the world a better place for everyone through coordinated scientific research, through aid to developing countries, and in countless other illustrations of our cooperation?

Indeed, it is little short of a religious miracle that in the brief span of half a century our two economies and policies have become so closely intertwined. Now the question before us, as we look ahead ten years or even further, is: what does Japan want to do? What sort of nation does it want to be? What sort of role does it wish to play on the world stage? And ten years from now, what will be the nature of the bilateral relationship between Japan and the United States?

Our nations share similar challenges, and I would say, as well, similar strengths. Japan has the challenge to jumpstart its economy, and there is, of course, a curious paradox here. For while every week marvelous new buildings are completed and building cranes mark the skyline, there is a sluggishness in the overall economic activity, and the general perceptions of people are negative about the economy of this great nation, and about the corrosive effects of deflation. While the statistics of your economy suggest a degree of economic distress, I have more than once looked out on the skyline of Tokyo, and seen the extraordinary buildings that are rising in this great city, and been tempted to send a cable back to my government in Washington and say, "This is the strangest recession I ever saw," because there is vibrant activity in Japan that belies the distress that is suggested by the statistics.

Prime Minister Koizumi has demonstrated commendable resolve to address the economic challenges that are ahead. He has expressed determination to tackle the problems of non-performing loans and to continue the process of reform. The U.S. applauds him and his economic team, and as concerned friends will continue to offer whatever insights we can. But in the economic sphere, as in every other aspect of our relationship, we respect Japan as a great sovereign nation, and we trust your leaders to make the right decisions in keeping with the status of a great world power that has great global interests.

In America, we know that addressing non-performing loan problems and improving corporate balance sheets is no easy task. I was privileged to serve as President Reagan's Chief of Staff at the White House in the 1980s, and that was during some of the most difficult times that our country has recently experienced. I can testify that criticism and pressure against reform can be very hard to withstand. But I can also tell you from our experience that the benefits of determined action are great, and in the long run outweigh the costs of adjustment. We successfully faced our own savings and loan crisis, and today we have a more stable financial system. Addressing the problems quickly ensured us a better tomorrow, and that is also true, that the mutual security challenges facing us are best addressed and resolved promptly.

Our countries have to address fundamental questions about our place and role in international affairs today and for the forthcoming decade. In Japan, there has been a remarkable evolution of the public debate about Japan's role in the world just in the two yeas since I came to Japan as American Ambassador. Some of the debate has changed in dramatic ways. Some of it is now acceptable public discourse, which might not even have been considered for public discourse only a few years ago. Some of it has been prompted by events such as the Gulf War in 1991, and certainly including the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11th, as well as increased public awareness of the threats to Japan posed by North Korea and others. But I think it is mostly due to the growing realization that this nation is a great power with worldwide interests. It is well to remember that in addition to being the world's second largest economy, Japan has other and very substantial assets and opportunities. It is not inconsequential to note that Japan is the second-largest naval power in the Pacific. It is important to reflect on the achievements, influence, and interests that Japan naturally wants and deserves - and deserves, as well, a seat at the table for the conversation and negotiation of international affairs and relationships.

As an illustration of that, my country has for years supported Japan for permanent membership in the Security Council of the United Nations. We have long supported that, we still support that, and we urge the world community to acknowledge that and act on it, because Japan is a great sovereign nation, a great power economically, it is a great power in terms of the formulation and publication of the future relationships which are calculated to provide for the security, peace, and prosperity, not just of this region of the world, but of the entire world.

Japan has stepped up to its responsibility as a great power, playing a role on the world stage by sending Self Defense Force personnel abroad for peacekeeping operations in Mozambique and Cambodia, the Golan Heights, East Timor. Since September 11th, Japan has played a crucial role in the multi-faceted campaign against international terrorism, clamping down, as you have, on terrorist financing; sharing information; providing important support for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; and helping to plan the reconstruction, now, of Iraq. I believe this is all to the good, and my country deeply appreciates the hard decisions your government has taken on these matters. But there are still basic questions that must be asked and answered by Japan in the years ahead.

As you know, perhaps, the charter document of our government, the Constitution of the United States, is short and simple. One reason it has endured so few amendments and operated so successfully for these past two centuries is that our Supreme Court has developed a remarkable ability to interpret the language, the literal language, of the Constitution in the context of the historical moment. That, my friends, has kept our charter document relevant to the realities of a given time. Now your leaders and judicial authorities have shown every bit as much ingenuity as have Americans in interpreting your Constitution and your laws, when necessary, in accordance with changed circumstances. I do not know, nor do I wish to predict, how Japan would decide on its constitutional debate, and the broader issues of how Japan should actively work for a more peaceful and prosperous world. But I am pleased to see that the debate, the public debate, has begun. I am also confident that Japan will make the right decisions for itself, and in keeping with its stature as a great world power with global interests.

The United States, since 9/11, has gone through its own reassessment of its security interests and capabilities, and we look at the world differently today than we have in the past. We realize that, unlike the challenge of the Soviet Union and its satellites, lined up behind an iron curtain with a massive nuclear arsenal, we confront a more invisible enemy of global terrorists and outlaw regimes that observe no norms of international behavior. This is unpleasant to contemplate, but we would be irresponsible if we averted our eyes from the facts as they exist, and with which we must deal. We know that the evil that terrorist groups such as al Qaida can wreck upon innocent victims can be extraordinary. We can only speculate what a failed state such as North Korea, if unconstrained, might do against its neighbors in Asia, not to mention the peoples of the world. We are right to fear what terrorist groups and rogue states could do with nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. We must take what action we can to prevent terrorist groups and rogue nations from gaining access to these terrible weapons.

My friends, the challenges facing our two peoples is daunting. But as I look forward, I see every reason to be optimistic. It's good, I believe, to take an inventory of the tremendous assets both of our nations have, assets that we will both draw upon as we move forward together to address these challenges. In Japan, in addition to the second largest economy in the world, you have enormous savings. You have virtually no external debt. Your most important resource of all is your population. The people of Japan, by and large, are highly educated; they are resourceful; they have a demonstrated genius for diligence and hard work, and success.

But the people of Japan, as well, have demonstrated a remarkable talent for living in a democratic society. You have a fully functioning democratic system. You have a fully functioning political system. The political system is very efficient in Japan, as in America, in hearing what the people of this nation want, what they fear, what they must have, and then translating that into useful public policy. In my two years here, I observe the new vigor of public debate has been matched only in a few instances in my own country, or in other parts of the world. But there are other things you have to do that must be addressed by Japan, by the political system here, as they must be continually addressed in America. For example, we should welcome increased transparency and citizen participation throughout the corporate and government worlds as an indication that your future decisions will be the correct ones, and rest on the firm basis of broader public understanding and wide support.

Despite our differences in history and culture, America's assets complement those of Japan. Our country has been, and remains, a huge engine of creativity. Our free enterprise system and our openness to outside investment and immigration has given birth to great industrial enterprises and multilateral undertakings. But more important, it gives free reign to individual enterprise and, most of all, to small business. Through good times and bad, it is these entrepreneurs, these small businessmen and women, these start-up companies, that provide great numbers of new jobs in America, and provide the creative energy that molds and forms the direction of our private enterprise system. The American economy never fails to draw the best out of our own people, and to provide opportunity for creative and talented people from all walks of life to participate fully in the national life, the economic life of our nation. This is the surest guarantee of America's continued prosperity in the coming decades. While the analogy between America and Japan is not exact, it is worth pointing out that, as two great functioning democracies, both with demonstrated ability to create wealth through the creation and establishment of great industrial and commercial enterprises, that the welfare of our two nations is best served by prosperity. The ambition of our government, and of yours, is to have a safe, secure, and prosperous future. To do that, men and women will have the opportunity to excel, to create, to innovate, and to create those new things that make a nation great in its own time.

As our leaders and peoples consider with due seriousness the many immediate challenges on our joint agenda, we would do well to keep in mind the tremendous assets that our two societies possess. We have enormous resources at our disposal. These attributes and resources are unrivalled by any other nations or combination of nations in the world. The resources that we have to address the issues of the day, and to gain the peace, prosperity, and security that we all seek, are virtually unparalleled in the history of mankind. As we remind the generations that follow how fortunate they are to be endowed with such enviable stability, strength, and wealth, we must also remind them that to whom much is given, much is also expected.

My friends, I am by nature optimistic. While I am fully aware that we live in an uncertain and dangerous time, I also know that history teaches, and my own life experience proves, that free peoples, by joining together, can overcome the most daunting of challenges. Thinking about how far we've come just in our own lifetimes, and considering the remarkable assets our societies have accumulated, we have, I believe, a sound basis for optimism. It is our obligation to accept the calling of history and work together as partners, and to lead this region, and the world, toward that common vision of liberty, peace and prosperity.

My friends, in closing, may I pay a special tribute to Japan's sense of its own heritage, represented here as you celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the treaty produced by the visit of Commodore Perry, my fellow American. Signaled, as well, by the presence on this stage of the descendents of men who were intimately and directly involved in that first joining, co-joining, of interests between our two great nations. It's a pleasure to be with them. But mostly, my friends, it's a pleasure to have this opportunity to celebrate with you the future. Our heritage and traditions in both nations are great and noble, but I really believe that our future is even greater. So I urge and encourage that the great economic prosperity of Japan be translated into future promise, that your enormously talented population speak even more clearly, in the structures of government, on what the objectives of this great nation should be. I urge that the enormously good relationship between Japan and the United States be extended even farther. I applaud the remarks by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe that the relationship between our nations has never been better, but it can be better still in the future. Not just that we have the opportunity to increase our share of the world's wealth, but rather, we have the social conscience and the sensitivity and the understanding to know, while we might not wish it, that by reason of our strengths, our institutions, that we have the opportunity, and perhaps the obligation, to lead.

So let us lead together. Let us commit our resources to the betterment of mankind, not just our own citizenry. Let's lead by making sure that we enhance the chances that the world will be peaceful, not just in the Pacific, but throughout the world. Let's lead by showing men and women everywhere that freedom, individual enterprise, education, a decent respect for different points of view, all of these things combine to create strength, and that strength can make us greater still.

Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Ambassador Baker, thank you very much for the very heart-warming, encouraging presentation, pointing out some challenges and issues for Japan. I think what you said is quite right.

Since this is a valuable opportunity, with Ambassador Baker's permission, FEC and other people here can ask questions. Is it all right for them to ask questions, Mr. Ambassador?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: If I can make my earpiece work, I'll even try to answer them.

MODERATOR: If you have a question, please raise your hand, and I'll recognize you. Mr. Kuriyama, former Ambassador to the United States, is present here. On Ambassador Baker's table, there is an Edo period puppet - a kind of a doll - that can be manipulated. This doll, clad in a traditional costume, is a symbol of Japan's science and culture. This works on some mechanism, and this doll represents the origin of Japanese manufacturing. This is a replica, of course, but we brought it here to give it to you. The real thing is a national treasure, and at Ueno Museum there is a puppet and doll exhibition. But are there questions? Please raise your hand. You can ask one question at a time.

QUESTION: I'm Hino from Noritake Co., in Nagoya. I have one question. Major understanding and cooperation between our two governments is of course very important, and as you said, we are in very good shape in our bilateral relationship. Leaving that aside, as you said, Mr. Ambassador, at the private level, there should be greater exchanges and mutual understanding. I think such efforts should be further promoted. When we talk about Japan-U.S. exchanges, when we talk about Japanese people visiting the United States, and when we talk about Americans visiting Japan, when we compare these two numbers, there are many fewer Americans visiting Japan than Japanese visiting the United States. This is due to some tourist resources and business opportunities that are available in both countries, which may be the reason for this difference. But when Americans come to Japan, under the current exchange rate, it becomes very costly for Americans to travel to Japan. This may be one of the factors that explain this difference.

You have been in Japan as Ambassador for two years. Based on your living experience here, of course the U.S. Embassy is a part of United States territory, but living in Japan, how do you look at the exchange rate, and how do you look at the purchasing power priority situation of the yen and the dollar, that is, the exchange rate and the purchasing power priority seem to be different from each other? So there seems to be a gap between the exchange rate and the purchasing power priority. This is due to the trade relationship between Japan and the U.S., but what kind of view do you have about this disparity between the exchange rate and the PPP, purchasing power priority, between the yen and the dollar?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Well, thank you very much for your question. Actually, it was a number of questions; so let me take them one at a time. To begin with, I was taught years ago by my father, who was also in government for many years, that if you have a question and answer period, there are some questions you must answer, there are some questions you can answer if you chose to, there are some questions you should never answer. And one of those questions I should never answer has to do with exchange rates, because I know nothing about exchange rates, and those of my government who comment on exchange rates almost invariably get in trouble. So with your kind permission, I will not answer that part of your question.

It is true, however, that there are many more Japanese who visit America than Americans who visit Japan, and I regret that. But I think there are a number of reasons for it. Perhaps the high cost of traveling in Japan is one of them, although I do not believe it is a significant part. Those who wish to travel here find it possible to do so. I rather suggest something else I believe even more important, in that it is easier for Japanese enterprises to invest in America than it is for American enterprises to invest in Japan. I think that's an issue that must be addressed. In order to make sure that this marvelous relationship between our two countries continues and is expanded, it seems to me there must be a more nearly equal opportunity for direct investment in each other's country.

I come from the state of Tennessee, in the United States, and we are much favored by the location of many Japanese industries there - at last count, over two hundred. The United States has benefited and prospered from great Japanese investment throughout our country, and we are better for it. It is said by some that Japan taught Detroit once more how to build good automobiles, and in some measure that's true. But America has much to contribute to Japan, as well. We know a great deal about a lot of things that I think would be useful for Japan. Not the least is the question of how you address your banking issues. Not the least about what you do in terms of improving your governmental relationship, the structural arrangements. Not the least in terms of how, with your newfound power and wealth, you channel those things into appropriate actions to play on the world stage, as a great world power. So there's a real opportunity for a further exchange between Americans and Japanese to our mutual benefit. It would be nice if things didn't cost so much in Japan, but one way or another, we'll manage that. We thank you for the opportunity to be here. Thank you, sir.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Any other questions, please? Yes? Today, we have the representative of the abductees association, Mr. And Mrs. Yokota, and we also have the father of abductee Ms. Keiko Arimoto. I understand that the representatives of this association wish to express their appreciation to the Ambassador. Mr. Yokota, please.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Thank you very much Mr. Hanioka, Senior Vice President of FEC. My name is Yokota. Thank you very much indeed for allowing me to take part in this ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary (of U.S.-Japan relations). Taking this opportunity, I would like to express our appreciation to Ambassador Baker. Today, we have also the father of Ms. Arimoto, who was abducted in Europe. Together with my own wife, we are here to express our appreciation to you. The other day we visited South Korea, and this has already been reported through newspaper articles. I would like to express my appreciation for the kind support of the U.S. Government for our day-to-day activities when we visited the United States. We were cordially accepted by various influential people in the U.S. Government and in the United States. We are grateful to Ambassador Baker for your good offices that made these meetings possible. So taking this opportunity, I would like to express our deepest appreciation to you. Also to the U.S. Government, I do hope it will continue to show support for our activities. Also to the members of the press here, and the members of the FEC, I would also like to take this opportunity and appeal to you for your kind support. Thank you very much.

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Permit me to respond, if I may. To begin with, I must say that it is good to see you both again. Thank you for the opportunity to share this program with you. I remarked earlier on, and I would repeat now, that it's a mark of the great humanity of two nations, the United States and Japan, that they invest so much in their concern for your families and others who are held as abductees. It's a tribute to the civilization in Japan - and, I believe, in the United States - that we continue to insist that this issue be resolved in a humane way. I pay special tribute to the Prime Minister for his intervention on behalf of the abductees and their families during the Crawford Summit; to Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe for his continuing support, and his advancement of this cause; and to many others who are dedicated to seeing that this issue is developed.

It is clear that both Japan and the United States attach great significance and importance to these matters by what they say, but also the fact that both countries, Japan and the United States, have made it clear that for the issue of North Korea to be resolved, we must first resolve the issue of abduction. That is a powerful statement, a powerful precondition, to further negotiations with North Korea, and I think entirely appropriate to the gravity of the offence against your families, against Japan, and against the United States, by the abduction of these victims.

QUESTION: (Mr. Arimoto) I also would like to join Mr. Yokota and extend my appreciation to President Bush and to the United States, because Prime Minister Koizumi met with President Bush on that occasion. He brought the abduction matter to the President, and President Bush stated that, together with all the concerns that the U.S. has vis-a-vis North Korea, the nuclear problem and otherwise, he will also take into consideration this abduction issue as well. So we deeply appreciate the words of President Bush. In negotiating with North Korea in the future, I'm sure a very difficult situation may arise. But South Korea, Japan, and the politicians in these countries, I hope, must also take a strong stance, because there are some politicians in Japan and in South Korea who are somewhat on the side of North Korea. But I do hope that we will stand firm vis-a-vis North Korea, following the U.S. stance. We should strongly speak to Kim Jong Il. That is my strong wish. If we could do that, then I'm sure we could follow the United States, and together with the United States, we could approach this matter.

Regarding South Korea, my view is that because of the Korean War in the past ... Following the Korean War, South Korea has developed greatly during the past fifty years. But I would like to appeal to the South Korean people about a resolution of this issue. The U.S. Government, I hope, will stand firm vis-a-vis Kim Jong Il, without taking heed to those who are not with us in South Korea and in Japan - some of the element who are not with us. Thank you very much.

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Ladies and Gentlemen, I must make one point clear. From time to time I've had an opportunity to speak officially, privately, and on occasion publicly, about my concern for the danger represented by North Korea and their nuclear ambition. Let me say now that America does not, nor do I, have any animosity toward the people of North Korea. It is not a question of hostility toward the people of North Korea, but rather, I guess, the threat that their government represents to peace and stability in this region, this part of the world, and to other parts of the world. So I would like to make it very clear that when I speak, perhaps in stern tones, about North Korea, it does not mean that I have any hostile feelings toward the people of North Korea. But rather that I call on the government of North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambition. I think as the leaders of South Korea, Japan, and the United States have made abundantly clear, the possession of nuclear weapons by North Korea represents a real threat, and we must express, as we have expressed, our determination that the Korean Peninsula will not be nuclearized.

How that is accomplished is very much a matter that we must address in the future, and Japan and the United States, and South Korea, and perhaps China and maybe Russia, will be fully involved in our consultation and coordination in the approach that ultimately will lead to a settlement. The next steps are not difficult. Our President and the Prime Minister and the President of South Korea have made it clear that the next meeting should be a multi-party meeting involving Japan, this time, and South Korea, as well, in addition to China, the United States, and North Korea. The reason for that is the threat is multinational. It is not really so much a threat against the United States as it is a threat against South Korea and Japan, and perhaps China and Russia. So negotiations should be undertaken on a multi-party basis. That's the first step. It would be very easy, it seems to me, for North Korea to agree to that. It is not an onerous burden.

The second thing is that North Korea must agree to forgo its nuclear ambition and to dismantle, in a verifiable and irreversible way, its drive toward nuclear weapons. That will be more difficult, perhaps, for the North Koreans, but it is absolutely essential, because otherwise our negotiations will be meaningless. We should be determined, and determined together, to see that the nuclear threat on the Korean Peninsula is eliminated. It's fully within the power of the North Korean Government to do that in one simple move, and that is to agree and acquiesce to those conditions. If they do so, it is my guess that the world community, including the United States, and I feel sure Japan and South Korea, would react in a most favorable way in terms of humanitarian relief for the people of North Korea, in terms of the redevelopment of that impoverished country, in terms of the other things that can alleviate the pain and suffering. It is not difficult to imagine that those things can follow on swiftly after North Korea changes its policy.

And finally, as we discussed just a moment ago, North Korea must successfully address the question of abductees. Not only for Japan, but indeed for the sensibilities of the entire world, because it is a universal assault on the dignity of mankind that North Korea would be permitted to abduct private citizens, to hold them against their will, and in many cases, to fail to disclose where they are, or their condition. But those are not impossible conditions for North Korea. So I would hope that the government of North Korea would take heed of the need to do that, the ease with which it could be done, and proceed promptly to undertake it, so that the world can be delivered from the threat of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, and so we can join together in alleviating the suffering and distress of the people of that impoverished land.

QUESTION: I'm Tamiya, from Sony. The other day, Ambassador Baker, together with your grandson, you came to our - Sony's - showroom, and I talked with you then. When I was in the United States, Ambassador Baker, you were the Vice-Chairman of the Impeachment Committee, the Watergate Committee. You are Republican, but you tried to impeach President Nixon. I watched the proceedings of the committee every night, and I was impressed, and show respect to you. My question is - you talked about three kinds of questions, then maybe this is the kind of question that you should never answer - but in Japan, Mr. Kagan's book called "Neoconservative Theory", it's copies are stacked up in bookstores, and I bought one. During the Iraq War, or just before the Iraq War, the United States did not put so much emphasis on consultations with the U.N. and other concerned countries, and I wondered why. Maybe, by reading this book, I understood why the United States did not attach so much importance to consultations with the United Nations. One commentator said in a Japanese newspaper that enlightened people may just be overwhelmed by the current reality. My question to you is that we may tremble in the face of reality. There are a lot of people who are called the silent majority, both in Europe and in Japan, and probably in the United States, too, who remain silent in the face of this reality. To those who read this book, "Neoconservative Theory", what kind of comments can you make? Please, don't say, "never answer," but please say something.

AMBASSADOR BAKER: That does not fall in the third category. First of all, let me thank you once again for the opportunity to visit. Indeed, you were very kind and generous to me and to my grandson. A personal note, if I may, today - right now - he's getting on an airplane going back to America, having spent one year here in college, and having fallen hopelessly in love with Japan. I have no doubt that he will come back to Japan when he finishes school, but Japan treated him very well, and he certainly was pleased, and you did treat him very well as you showed him around the Sony Building and the Sony Enterprise.

On the question of - let me talk about neocons for a minute. I've been in politics for a long time, in government for many years, and I've heard "liberal," "conservative," "moderate," "reactionary." I've heard all these terms at one time or the other, and the more I hear them, the more I realize that they are empty of meaning. They almost never have any real meaning. So I must tell you, I do not know what neocons are. I know some people who are called neocons who are very liberal in terms of social welfare issues, like Medicare and other things. I know some "liberals" who are very conservative on matters such as budgetary restraints, and so on. In America, we do not have a liberal party and a conservative party, as you know. We've got two broad-based parties, and each of them accommodates a wide variety of ideas and points of view. So I don't know what neocon means, and honestly, I don't much care what it means. What I do care about is that conscientious men and women continue to give their time and services to the governance of our country. I do not care if there's great dispute or controversy - and indeed there often is - but it's out of that political controversy that we develop the correct answers for America, and I surmise you do the same in Japan.

You mentioned the Watergate situation. That was a very distressful situation in my life. I was a young senator when that occurred, and indeed Richard Nixon had campaigned for my election. I counted him a political friend. When I was appointed to be vice chairman of the committee to investigate the alleged campaign irregularities, or irregular conduct, I must say I began by assuming that it was a Democratic dirty trick, that there wouldn't be anything to it. Well I soon discovered that was not the case. But I think it's a tribute not to me, but to the American political system, that Republicans and Democrats gathered together in that committee to investigate the charges, to deal with them honestly and publicly, and to try to provide against their occurring in the future. It takes courage to do that when you're dealing with someone of your own party. But that sort of courage, in my view - and I'm excluding myself, I'm talking about in general - is absolutely essential if you have a functioning, successful, representative democracy. The more remarkable aspects of the Watergate adventure may not be that Richard Nixon had to resign from office, but rather that the American political system survived it, and came out healthy, and indeed it did. I believe America is stronger politically now than it was before Watergate, and that too is little short of a miracle, but I believe it is true.

I've been a very lucky man, all my life. I'm lucky to have a loving family. I'm lucky to have been able to survive the great conflict between Japan and the United States in World War II. I'm lucky to have been chosen in my profession and to do well. I certainly am lucky to have served in the Senate, and to be President Reagan's Chief of Staff, and now to be here. All these things are an extraordinary stroke of good fortune for a poor country boy like me, but I've been very lucky all my life. But in return for being very fortunate all my life, I try to contribute the best I can of my ideas about how to make the system better; how to contribute to the future welfare of my country; and how to make sure that we remain free, independent, sovereign, and prosperous. That's the only way I can pay back the great good fortune that's been heaped on me in the course of these years. Sometimes, as in Watergate, it didn't look so good. But now, in retrospect, in looking back, I believe we're all stronger for it. And thank you again for your hospitality to my grandson.

QUESTION: My name is Kohno, Vice Chairman of the FEC. Thank you very much for your very thoughtful presentation befitting the 150th exchange year program. You have shown us the way for the future, and the current situation between our two countries. I have a question concerning education. In Japan, we are faced with a number of education-related issues - higher education, children's education. There are a number of questions in educational matters. In the National Diet, there are a number of issues that should be taken up during the course of this session, but this has been postponed. One is the Basic Education Law. This was established in 1947 when Japan was under the occupation of the United States. The current Basic Education Law was enacted in 1947. We are now considering revising this basic law.

I know you have worked with President Reagan in the past, and there was the Young report, "Nation at Risk", there were a number of recommendations that were put forth during those times. President Bush is, I understand, very enthusiastic about education matters. But my question is, what are the reform efforts you are currently contemplating in the U.S. Government in the education area, education reform?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Thank you very much for your question. I remarked a few days ago, when I made speech and had a question and answer session, that I always stay for one question too many. And I think I just did, because I must tell you in all candor I do not have a good answer for where American education is going. We have many problems. I perceive that you have problems here in Japan with the matter of making your educational opportunity match the challenge of these times. We have the same problem. It's a continuing, unfolding experiment on how best to fit our educational commitments to the challenge of our time.

We do many things in America. A few years back, really a fairly short time back, the U.S. central government began funding local education. That was a radical departure, and it only happened in the late 1950's and 1960's, so it's a fairly new thing. Before that, all education had been supported at the local level. Beyond that, we had the great civil rights legislation and decisions by our federal courts - the Supreme Court, in particular - on integration of schools, and guaranteeing equal opportunity for all students, regardless of their geographical location, their age, their ethnic origin, and the like. That, perhaps, had a disruptive effect on education at the secondary level in America for a while, but I believe it is now pretty successfully tapped down. But we still have the question of how do we identify the people who have much to contribute? How do we identify those who have original, new ideas? How do we make sure they have access to quality education? How do we pay for it? These questions have not been answered in America, but they are addressed in America, and we will improve the system as time goes on.

I know much less about the educational system in Japan, but I perceive that you have some of the same problems. The question that I see here, and this is based in large part on my small sample of your educational attainment with my grandson who was here for a year, is that you have very good people involved. You perhaps do not have the same breadth of opportunity in terms of course work and post-graduate work that we have in America, or perhaps in Europe, but what you do have is very good.

One of these days, I'll make a speech about Japan as a future great scientific power. I will not do that today, but I will give you an example of what I'm talking about. Japan has demonstrated its ability as a great industrial power. You've demonstrated your ability at successful enterprise with democracy and self-government. But you also have gone a long way to leading the world in basic science and research, which is a factor that not many people in Japan understand or realize, I'm afraid. You have the world's two largest telescopes - the Subaru telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii - which are doing the most advanced sort of astrophysical research. You are bidding actively for the new fusion research reactor - the ITER Project - and I wish you well. I think it would make a dramatic impact on education - higher education - in Japan. There are so many other things where Japan is in the vanguard of advanced development that I think Japan has not yet realized how far they have come. But that then, in turn, must be folded into the educational system, because scientific research almost always is interrelated to advanced education, as it is in America, and as it is in other parts of the world. As I say, that's another speech for another time, and I will spare you further detail today. But one of these days I want to talk about how far Japan has come, and how promising your future may be in terms of basic scientific research.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much.