[Special Contribution]

The Best Team

By Ambassador Howard H. Baker, Jr.

The following was originally published in the Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 134 (March 25, 2004), which was the inaugural issue of the English-language version. It is reprinted here with permission of the Cabinet Public Relations Office.

As we celebrate 150 years of U.S.-Japan relations, I am honored to contribute to this inaugural edition of the English language version of Prime Minister Koizumi's weekly cabinet email magazine. These are historic times for our two nations. Poll after poll shows that relations between the people of Japan and the United States have never been better. We increasingly eat the same food, listen to the same music, and wear the same fashions. More importantly, we enjoy the same freedoms, and share the same values. As we see symbolized with Hideki Matsui playing here in Japan this month wearing a New York Yankee uniform, we are on the same team.

As teammates, we work together for a common purpose, especially when the game is on the line. The President and the Prime Minister, our governments and our citizens all agree on what is important. We want peace and prosperity. We want security from terrorism and the threat of weapons of mass destruction. We want to fight the plagues of disease and despair. We want to foster education and enlightenment. We want human rights and human dignity for all. We want everyone to be free to think and speak and worship as they choose. We want to make the world safe for today and tomorrow, so that our children and our grandchildren will inherit a future of possibility and hope.

It won't be easy. The world remains a difficult and complicated place. The Prime Minister has shown great political courage and great moral leadership in the war on terror. We have the greatest respect for the Self Defense Forces now in Iraq working to rebuild that troubled nation, bringing hope to those in need. The United States remains committed to defending Japan from any threats to its national security. We hope our united diplomatic efforts will soon end the nuclear shadow on the Korean peninsula, and resolve the continuing human tragedy of innocent Japanese citizens abducted from their homes and still separated from their families. My government is committed to food safety and food security for everyone, and we will do everything in our power to ensure the economic and environmental wellbeing of our two nations, and the world. We will do all of this because we are allies, and because we are friends.

I believe that friendship between nations is really nothing more than the sum total of individual relationships, and that is absolutely true with the United States and Japan. Many of our citizens live and work in the other's country, and many of children study in the other's schools. My grandson was one of them. He studied at a Japanese university for a year, and in that year he fell in love with Japan. Mrs. Baker and I share that affection for this land and its people. The generosity and kindness the people of Japan have shown to us, and show to our fellow countrymen every day, has touched our hearts. It is my pleasure to offer my personal thanks, and the thanks of President Bush and the American people, to the Prime Minister and the people of Japan for your friendship and support.

Get more information on the Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine