Armitage Speaks at Japan National Press Club

February 2, 2004

ARMITAGE: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your kind remarks, Mr. Haruna. I am delighted to be back with you, and I'd like to thank all of you for coming here today. Sometimes, it seems to me that everywhere I go I can count on members of the Japanese press to follow me and keep me company. So today, I'm delighted to be able to be here with you and keep you company. And I want to thank, of course, the National Press Center for the kind invitation. I'd also like to thank Ambassador Howard Baker, not just for acting as a good host for me, but for acting as such an extraordinary emissary for my country. Sir, all Americans owe you a debt of gratitude for a lifetime of service. I think that we can be especially grateful that you answered President Bush's call. You've been here in Tokyo to help shape one of our nation's most important alliances at a time of testing and at a time of transformation. Thank you for all that you have done to make both of our nations safer and more secure.

Of course I'm always delighted to be here in Japan. That is especially true today at such an historic moment in the life of your nation, and indeed of our alliance. I believe that Prime Minister Koizumi has set a new benchmark, not just in the dispatch of Japanese Self Defense Forces to Iraq, but also in redefining Japan's role in the world, as well as finding a way forward for this country. The Prime Minister has a remarkable vision, and I believe the right vision at the right time. As he said on December 9th, "Now is the time indeed when we are to be tested, not only in our words, but in our deeds." A little over three years ago, I joined together with Dr. Joe Nye to chair a bipartisan panel on U.S./Japan relations. I don't think that we anticipated that so much would happen so quickly. The events of the past three years have been dramatic. Indeed, my nation's entire frame of reference has shifted and brought the worldwide battle with terrorism to the fore. But I can tell you that the administration of President Bush has never lost sight of long-term priorities. So we can say today that much of the vision laid out in the Nye/Armitage report has become a reality. Of course, given how important this is to my country, as well as to me personally, I wish I could take more credit for these developments. But the fact is, it was our counterparts in Japan who were thinking along the same lines. It was Prime Minister Koizumi and the people of Japan who actually made this happen. In this time of change at home, in the region and around the world, Japan had not been caught standing still. Indeed, today Japan is putting it's skillful hands on the tiller of the international community, no longer content simply being a passenger, which I believe will chart a course to a direct and a rightful role in shaping a better future.

Now, that may sound to some of you like an overstatement. But there can be no exaggerating the importance of this new era of self-confidence for Japan. Certainly for Japan itself the benefits mean everything from a stronger economy to a safer region. But there are also important benefits for the United States, which is recognizing an equal partner in a mature relationship, and for the international community, in it's entirety, because Japan has a unique contribution to make to world affairs. History has handed the United States extraordinary wealth and power. As President Bush has said, "with great power comes great responsibility." We accept that responsibility. We will play our role. Japan too has great wealth and great power, as the second largest economy in the world, as the second largest donor of foreign aid, with a political and a cultural character that influences millions of people around the world every day. But as a country of such great significance, Japan has a different role to play. Certainly our roles are complimentary, for the simple reason that we share core regional and global strategic interests, as well as common political and common economic values. But on the other hand, we also have different strengths, and different approaches. I suppose there are still some in this country, as well as around the region, who believe that a self-confident Japan is something to fear. Those fears are ghosts of the past. They have no foundation in the present. Indeed, I see that the debate within Japan about changing the constitution is now picking up speed, without changing the unique character of this country. I believe we can say that this debate has never been more serious than it is today in discussing how to deal with collective self-defense, which many of us in the global community, and apparently increasingly in Japan, view as common sense, though clearly these are decisions that only the people of Japan can make.

At the close of the Second World War, there was one speech that Franklin Roosevelt never had a chance to deliver. It included a memorable phrase, quote: "More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all war." His was a vision of hope for a time when so much of the world was in wreckage. But in all the years since, the world has fallen fall short of that vision. Even as the community of nations has come together to limit the damage we can do to each other, through a vast network of international laws and international constitutions - the Geneva Conventions, the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - we've also seen some of the worse mass killings in the history of mankind in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in Kosovo, and, oh yes, in Iraq. Today we cannot afford to take it on faith that the end to war, and especially the end to the beginnings of war, is a proposition that will take care of itself. So today peacekeeping must not be an exercise in fatalism. Today we need a new approach, and we need policies that are proactive in building peace. From my perspective, from the viewpoint of my country, Japan clearly has a comparative advantage in establishing such an approach. Indeed, the Prime Minister of Japan has pointed out that the spirit and the ideals of the constitution call for Japan to be nothing less than a force for global peace.

I am quite well aware that much has been made of one single passage in the American security strategy that concerned the concept of preemption. While military action to prevent a terrorist attack has to remain an option, the fact is that the United States, just like Japan and the rest of the international community, must be prepared to take effective measures to keep peace, not just to wage war or to clean up after the fact. The cost of war is far too high in human misery, in instability and in scarce national funds, so we must be prepared to use the tools of national power to serve the national interests in global security and global stability. This call to peace means different things for different countries. For my country of the United States it means leadership. It means acting to promote our values and protect our interests. But it also means engaging in effective multilateralism. We simply cannot guard our own security, let alone build peace and prosperity in the world, if we attempt to act alone. For Japan it means acting as an advocate and catalyst for effective multilateral tactics. But it also means exercising leadership in the global community, and finding the will to be proactive on behalf of peace.

The costs of failing are clear. We can see the dangers of actions deferred in Afghanistan, and in Iraq. In Afghanistan, the brutal regime of the Taliban, a regime that sought to annihilate history itself, was horrific not just for the people of Afghanistan, but for every nation on the border, which endured wave after destabilizing wave of crime, of drugs and of refugees. With help of al Qaeda, which used the territory as both a staging point and a proving ground, the reach of Afghanistan's misery became global. September 11th was the breaking point. We all knew how lethal the situation was long before that, and yet we did little to effectively change the outcome. The international community now has a chance in Afghanistan to rectify our neglect of a gathering danger, and indeed both Japan and the United States are committing extensive resources to securing that country. Today there is cause for optimism as Afghanistan takes the right steps towards a better future.

Of course we saw a similar failure of international will in Iraq. It is a situation we had hoped would never come to military action. But we had reached a point where there was no other viable alternative. Saddam Hussein was murderous. He had unquenchable extra-territorial ambitions, and he was a tyrant who killed hundreds of thousands of his people. He never honored the terms of ceasefire with nations which defeated him in war. His control of the worlds second largest reserves of oil not only kept him in place, giving him in effect a blank check for a military buildup of unconventional and conventional arms, it also gave him the ability to destabilize the region and to threaten international interests out of all proportion to his real power. In twelve years of trying, the international community found no way to change that situation. Make no mistake, we all knew that as long as Saddam Hussein continued to defy every resolution of the United Nations Security Council, a day of reckoning was inevitable. The day of reckoning came, and now it is time for the world to turn to the task of helping Iraq. We must succeed, not just for the long-suffering people of Iraq, but for our own people, because this is also a matter of our own national interests, both for the United States and for Japan. The price of failure would be far too high. Indeed, it is in the vital international interests to see that this nation in the heart of the Middle East, the very cradle of civilization and a possible mainstay of the modern economy, can not only cease to be a threat to the region and to the world, but can become a source of stability, and a success on today's terms.

So now Japan is part of a great coalition of some 63 countries, which are now working to reach that goal. And indeed we have made considerable progress in repairing the human and the physical infrastructure of Iraq. For all of you in the journalism business, when you report the bad news - the stories of roadside bombs and suicide attacks - keep in mind that Iraq is a country of 24 million people, with many other stories to tell. It is only a relative handful of the population that is today attacking prospects for a better future. Indeed, the people of Samawah are certainly hopeful, and they have expressed great faith in Japan. These are people who ultimately want what we all want - to put food on the table and put children in school - without living in fear. So it is understandable that their enthusiasm arises not just from the benefit the Self Defense Forces will bring to their security, but from the constructive touch for which Japan is so rightly famous. That is a tremendous compliment to the unique Japanese contribution to world affairs. Now there is no absolute safety anywhere in the world, and certainly Iraq is still not a safe place - as you are all well aware, unfortunately. Japan suffered a great loss with the murders of Mr. Oku and Mr. Inoue, and I hope that you will permit me to offer the solidarity of the people of my country in this time of sorrow, to offer that solidarity to the people of Japan, and to the grieving families of these two extraordinary men. We will always remember their courage and remember their determination, and we must never forget that they put their own lives on the line in order to help the people of Iraq.

I recently went to Iraq, and I visited some of our troops and some of the diplomats stationed there. While they remain concerned about the security situation, they have a deep sense of purpose, and they refuse to yield to terrorism. They understand that to secure a free Iraq, and a Middle East that is stable and at peace, we have to be willing to shoulder the risk. That is the only way to reach an outcome we all want to see. Japan's pledge of $5 billion made at the conference in Madrid will be crucial to turning around the fortunes of Iraq. But if Japan were to hold itself apart, to only underwrite the risk of others, it would not share fully in the decisions that are made, or the results that are reached. Japan would be unlikely to earn the full respect of those who take the risks for peace. Moreover, avoiding risk does not necessarily mean achieving peace.

So yes, Iraq is not a safe place. But for that matter, neither is Japan. After all, you live in a region with nuclear-armed neighbors, the risks of which were made so clear by North Korea's 1998 test of a Tapedong missile over Honshu. Indeed, Japan has been the victim of a terrorist attack from within, as has the United States in Oklahoma City. Keeping to the status quo will not necessarily bring us security. Failing to address difficult issues will not necessarily keep us safe. But it may close down our options, as we saw in Iraq.

The international community cannot afford to keep coming back to a point of no return, where difficult situations are left with no effective solutions. This is true of Iran, for instance, where the international community has a choice, as in Iraq. We can hold Iran's leadership accountable for their behavior, for fulfilling their responsibilities and fully cooperating with the IAEA. We can stand with the people of Iran, who have legitimate aspirations for true democracy. Or we can deal with the consequences of having another repressive and autocratic nuclear-armed state. But the importance of effective solutions is evident in other places as well, from Libya, where strong British and American diplomacy has helped the ruling regime make the right decision to abandon weapons of mass destruction, to tiny Sri Lanka, where assertive Japanese diplomacy taken together with the facilitation of Norway and a supporting role from the United States, is helping to give the people of Sri Lanka the first hope for peace in a generation. The situation is still precarious, of course, but we are continuing to look for ways to support peace and to support the people of Sri Lanka.

These are the stakes and the potential results of acting decisively on behalf of peace. That is why the world can welcome the more active leadership role that Japan has taken and continues to take, not just in the global war against terrorism, but also closer to home in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan and the United States certainly share an interest in keeping the relationship between Taiwan and China on an even keel, and more generally in helping to shape what sort of country China will choose to be in this century. In the case of North Korea, Japan is already playing an important role. North Korea is a country that supports itself largely through counterfeiting, smuggling, trading in drugs and missiles and other weapons, a pattern of behavior that has included the cruel abductions of Japanese citizens as well as nuclear threats. It is a dangerous and unstable situation in one of the most dynamic and heavily populated regions in the world, and unfortunately all of the stopgap measures we tried in the past to end North Korea's nuclear programs failed. But the stakes are too high. We simply cannot allow the situation to continue to slide in the wrong direction. As President Bush said during the recent State of the Union address, "We are committed to keeping the most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous regimes." President Bush has made it very clear that he believes diplomacy can work in this instance, and he has indicated the United States is willing to document security assurances for North Korea in a multilateral context if North Korea will completely dismantle its nuclear programs in a way that is irreversible as well as verifiable. In addition to being North Korea's immediate neighbors and its past and potential trading partners, the countries in this group - Japan, the United States, China, the Republic of Korea, and Russia - account for some 50 percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product and four of the world's largest defense budgets. All have clearly stated their opposition to nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, as well as their conviction that a nuclear arms program does not enhance North Korea's security. I believe it is the strength and unity of this particular coalition that will, with wisdom and with patience, lead to an end of North Korea's nuclear threat. But I also want to make it clear that, as President Bush said to Prime Minister Koizumi, "The United States will stand squarely with Japan until all Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea are fully accounted for."

In the region and beyond, a proactive approach can also mean more than moving decisively to meet threats and to meet challenges. Japan has a key role to play in seizing the tremendous opportunities of the time for expanding trade and investment; for sharing in the benefits of intellectual property, agricultural productivity, and information technology; for turning back the march of infectious disease, including HIV/AIDS, the effects of which can be as devastating as any war; and for countering the global reach of pollution, of poverty, and of hunger. We both have a range of tested and new tools to support such efforts, including my country's Millennium Challenge Account and Japan's Consolidation of Peace Initiative and Human Security Concept. Moreover, I believe the optimism and the energy of the American spirit, combined with the far-reaching generosity for which Japan is so well known, can be an indispensable combination for a better future.

Now I think I've probably this afternoon mapped out a rather ambitious agenda, but I believe the key to our success lies in the longstanding strength of our bilateral alliance. Japan can count on America, and increasingly, America can count on Japan. Certainly a more self-confident Japan, with its own unique style of global leadership, can only add to that equation, both in the economic opportunity for our peoples and in advancing our shared global interests. Indeed, Japan already has been instrumental in keeping the six-party talks on track and in helping to smooth the way for a new United Nations role in Iraq. For that matter, the United States can afford to have full confidence in a Japan that has confidence in itself, not just in what we can accomplish together, but also in what we, as true allies, can accomplish apart.

Today in Baghdad, there are children who are going to school for the first time in many years. Children like 14 year-old Mohammed Sabah, who never learned to read and write because his family could not afford the routine bribes of school officials. There are Kurds around Halabja who are receiving medical care for the first time since Saddam Hussein poisoned the air with nerve gas. Kurds like Hawjen Latif, who as a child watched her mother and brother die an agonizing death. There are villagers around al-Hillah who for the first time have a road that connects them to the rest of the country, thanks to the efforts of Mahmoud Janabi, who helped build the seven-mile stretch of tarmac. This is what reconstruction means to the people of Iraq - a recovery of hope, and the discovery of possibility. That is precisely what the Self-Defense Forces have come to mean for people all over the world - to children playing in the streets of East Timor - to farmers in the fields of Cambodia - to refugees who fled Rwanda - and soon, to the people of Samawah, Iraq. To them, the flag of Japan means not only that the people of Japan are with them, but that the world is with them. That is the spirit of the Self Defense Forces, and that is something in which the Japanese people can take great pride. It is also that spirit that is animating a new Japanese leadership for a new era. And I firmly believe that not only will our 150-year friendship be the stronger for it, so will the prospects of peace across the Asia-Pacific region, as well as around the world.