Ambassador Baker Speaks at Japan Press Club

Ambassador Howard H. Baker, Jr.
The U.S.- Japan Relationship in 2004
Japan National Press Club, Tokyo

December 14, 2004

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here today, and thanks to the Japan National Press Club for offering me this opportunity to speak. As was pointed out, this is my third opportunity to address this group and I'm especially pleased to be back.

It seems fitting, as we approach the end of the year, to spend some time today talking about the issues we have dealt with and the events that have transpired during this year. These have affected the relationship between our two countries and I think for the better. I've said it before, but let me repeat, that I am privileged to serve as Ambassador of the United States to Japan. I'm happy to report that I think the relationship between our countries is in good shape. The relationship between our two countries is one of the most important in the world, if indeed not the most important. Our two countries are world leaders - economically, politically, socially and culturally, and militarily. So the strength of our relationship matters not only to us, but to the entire world. What impresses me most about our relationship is that it extends beyond the government-to-government relationship and to the people of our two countries. When I think about the love and support that poured out from American baseball fans as Ichiro set his hitting record this year, or recall the pleasure that my own grandson took in living and studying in Japan, I'm reassured that our people share a genuine interest in each other.

I think sometimes - when I have a moment to think - that America and Japan are very different places. We are separated by a giant body of water; we have different heritages, different cultures, and when I was a young man, we were fighting each other in the Pacific in a great war. So, my friends, why? Why, then, have Japan and the United States grown to be such friends?

There are probably a thousand reasons why that's so, but I'm going to suggest one that perhaps you would like to think about. Because both countries have a highly developed economic system based on free market principles; we believe in the rule of law; we have educated populations, and by and large we're committed to the advancement of science and technology; we have an appreciation for culture - our own and those of others. But there's one thing that stands out in my view, about Japan and the United States, that I believe has an effect on our friendship and our togetherness, and that is that we are perhaps the most efficient and effective participatory democracies in the world.

There are many democracies in the world in name. There are many who profess to be democracies. But democracy to me means a structure of government and society that honestly tries to hear what people have to say, and then translate that into useful public policy. I think Japan does that, as does America, to a remarkable degree. I think we do the same in America; I think that is of great value to both our nations. We fight, quarrel, debate, agree, disagree, either at the polling place or debated by our own elected representatives in the Congress and in the Diet. But in the final analysis, we reach a solution, and we establish a policy. And that policy is right for our countries because it represents the distillation of the combined genius of our people. That, my friends, I believe is our greatest asset, in both countries, in America and Japan. We hear and we understand what our people have to say. We have democratic systems that are very efficient at translating that into public policy.

Another reason we have been able to so effectively serve as allies is a result of the excellent working relationship between our leaders. I remember when Prime Minister Koizumi first visited with President Bush at Camp David, near Washington, and later at the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas, in June of 2001. I was present on both occasions, and saw the two men interact with each other. Since those two occasions, our two leaders have met on other numerous occasions - perhaps more than any of their predecessors, most recently last month in Santiago, Chile. Many say that the rapport they have established equals or exceeds that of the famed affection and goodwill that existed between former Prime Minister Nakasone and President Ronald Reagan. President Bush and everyone in this administration involved with Japan respect your Prime Minister's energy, decisiveness, and imagination. His rise and the leadership he has shown have brought Japan heightened respect and admiration from the world community. I think it is fair to say that the Prime Minister took Japan by storm when he emerged on the political scene in 2001.

At the same time, on the U.S. side, the first Bush Cabinet made it a priority to reinvigorate the alliance with Japan. And Secretary of State Powell, as well as Deputy Secretary Armitage, and leaders at the Pentagon, as well as our National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice - who soon will be our Secretary of State - they all came to office with the intention of bringing Japan to the fore of our policies. And my friends, I do believe that's what happened. Of course, both Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush had been returned to office during 2004. I would also point out that in the last year Secretary Powell, Deputy Secretary Armitage, and National Security Advisor Rice have all come to Japan and have all had an opportunity to have face-to-face meetings with their counterparts. And I've mentioned, as you know, President Bush has nominated Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary Powell's successor to head the Department of State and to be our highest ranking officer on the formulation of foreign policy.

One of the issues that have been carefully discussed between our two countries in the last year has been the task of setting a free and independent Iraq on the course of peace and progress. It was almost exactly a year ago that Japan decided to send Self Defense Forces to Iraq on a humanitarian mission and to help reconstruct that country. And just last week the government made the decision to extend that mission. It is important to note that Japan's decisions to send troops and to extend their mission were just that - Japan's decisions. Often this is portrayed as Japan following the U.S. in lockstep, or succumbing to American pressure. And I can tell you that it was entirely up to Japan to decide. Of course my country applauds the decision to extend the SDF mission, because it is recognizes the fact that the road to freedom and democracy - and peace - is not easy, but we have no alternative but to stay the course, to support the Iraqis who yearn to have a country that is not dominated by a brutal dictator or by criminals who would capture and kill innocent civilians. The news we hear daily from Iraq makes it clear that those who oppose a peaceful and democratic Iraq will not stop at anything to disrupt the progress that is made. The civilized world - with the United States and Japan in the forefront - cannot allow these forces of terror to frighten their own citizens and the rest of the world into giving them power. As difficult as it is, we cannot run away from our responsibilities as world leaders. Indeed, Japan has displayed an extraordinary amount of leadership - not only by sending SDF forces to Iraq, but by being one of the biggest donors of Iraqi reconstruction, by hosting the last donors' conference on Iraq, and by working energetically to forge an international consensus for Iraqi debt relief.

The President and the American people deeply appreciate the contribution that Japan is making in the war against terror in Iraq, and in Afghanistan. Early on, Japan made the bold decision to dispatch Marine Self Defense Force vessels to the Indian Ocean. Japan's leadership was further heightened by its hosting a conference on Afghanistan in 2002, here in Tokyo. And co-chairing the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan, which was held in Berlin last March.

Thanks in large part to Japan's continuing support in Afghanistan, October 9th of this year marked a very important milestone in the country's path to democracy, when the country's first democratic elections were successfully held. That success would not have been possible had it not been for Japanese leadership and generous economic aid. Japan even played a direct role in ensuring that things ran smoothly on election day by providing sufficient funding to the UNDP to assist with voter registration and the carrying out of the election itself. In addition, Japan contributed to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and dispatched a team to monitor the elections, as well.

The U.S. and Japan are also partners in dealing with an ominous threat to our security and the stability of this region - and I speak of the development of nuclear weapons by the unpredictable and dangerous regime in North Korea. We are united in our determination to counter this threat, and we agree that the solution lies in diplomacy, and the six-party framework as an expression of that diplomacy. Japan supports the U.S. in the view that through this process we must move toward ensuring that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program in a manner that is complete, permanent, transparent, and subject to effective verification. We have consistently stated that we are ready to resume the six-party talks without any preconditions. Let me add that, in my opinion, this multilateral diplomatic approach for resolving issues with North Korea gets far too little attention from those who criticize the United States as being too "unilateral." We look forward to working closely with Japan in the months ahead to achieve progress along these lines. At the same time we have supported Japan's ongoing negotiations on the very sensitive issue of Japanese abductees.

The United States and Japan have cooperated in another multilateral approach by resolving the problems of nuclear proliferation. In October of this year, the U.S., Japan and other allies concluded a training exercise under the Proliferation Security Initiative. Japan hosted this important exercise in Tokyo Bay, proving yet again its commitment to the global war on terror. Japanfs Coast Guard and Maritime Self Defense Forces, working in coordination with vessels from the United States, Australia, France, and other countries from the Asian region and beyond, demonstrated to would-be proliferators that the spread of weapons of mass destruction will not be tolerated.

Another challenge we have faced, and will continue to face in the coming years, is how to deal with the nuclear question in Iran. The U.S., Japan, and the Europeans and the world community at large feel it is vital to keep Iran free of nuclear weapons. We are committed to that goal and we will work with the Europeans, through the UN Security Council, and with every other nation that shares the goal, to bring Iran around to a transparency and to build confidence in the region.

The threat of terrorism worldwide is likely to remain a top concern of people in both the United States and Japan for the foreseeable future. I have already talked about the progress we have made in our counterterrorism efforts in 2004. Joint efforts in addressing this threat will certainly continue in the years ahead in important areas such as Proliferation Security Initiative. We will also continue to cooperate to stem the flow of terrorist assets in the international banking system. In the coming year, we also look forward to Japan's cooperation in helping ensure greater stability in the Middle East and thereby countering the forces of extremism. While the Palestinian people continue to mourn Yasser Arafat, a new leadership is deciding how they will organize themselves and prepare for elections. The world community must convince the new Palestinian leaders to clamp down on terrorism. At the same time, proponents of the so-called "roadmap," including the United States and Japan, need to convince the Israeli side to go forward with their disengagement plan from Gaza and from certain settlements in the West Bank. The United States has clearly indicated to both sides that we are prepared to help them develop their political dialogue and to move toward the support (inaudible).

My friends, there is a great deal of talk these days about the relationship between Japan and China, just as there is great interest in the China-U.S. relationship. It is difficult for me to sum up these relationships in a few words, but it is clear to me that the China-U.S. relationship and, indeed, the China-Japan relationship, are among the most important in the entire world. I think much progress has been made in the relationship between China and the United States. Trade and investment flows are at an all-time high, and there are probably fewer diplomatic and military disputes between China and the United States than at any time in recent history. In fact, the cooperation between China, Japan, and the United States in regard to the six party talks is an example of close cooperation among these three countries. The China-Japan relationship can be summed up in much the same way as the China- U.S. relationship. Trade between Japan and China is booming. Japanese investment in China has been growing steadily. By the same token, I think that the dangers in the Straits of Taiwan are very real and that is one of the most difficult danger points in the entire world. Our hope is embodied in our policy to urge China to use restraint and to refrain from a military solution with respect to Taiwan. Some view China's rise with alarm, and view it as a growing power that we must fear. Others are convinced that China presents no threat, only economic opportunities. And as always, I believe the truth perhaps lies somewhere in between. We must be watchful of the potential to threaten, but aware of the possibilities to work with relationship and the leadership of China across a broad spectrum of issues, as the U.S. and Japan are attempting to today.

Now looking to the economic and trade side of the bilateral relationship, it seems clear to me that we've moved away from the era of bilateral trade disputes, our concerns now centering around supporting Prime Minister Koizumi's effort to sustain a strong Japanese economic recovery. We would like to see a Japanese economy that lives up to its potential and serves as a global engine for growth. Unless Japan's economic vitality and growth is restored, we fear that Japan will gradually lose its influence in the world and, along with that, Japan's ability to work with us to promote peace, democracy and economic growth. Economic growth will also ensure that Japan can meet its own domestic challenges, including meeting the needs of an increasingly aging population. There are encouraging signs of economic recovery. The Japanese government efforts in this regard must be sustained. The U.S. supports the positive steps the Japanese government has taken so far to deal with non-performing loans and other problems in the financial sector. The U.S. has also encouraged further efforts toward deregulation and supports the establishment of special deregulatory zones, which exemplify the Prime Ministerfs decision to leave to locality what they can do. The U.S. hopes that this will lead to more regional development and with it greater American and foreign direct investment, as investors are drawn to these new vibrant economic areas.

The U.S.-Japan economic partnership for growth, which also grew out of the close relationship between our two leaders, helps to ensure that we also continue working together to pave the way for policies that will lead to economic growth in both our countries. We look forward to cooperating with Japan in the year ahead to ensure greater deregulation of certain key sectors, including healthcare, education, energy, IT and telecommunications.

On the trade side, the past year has witnessed a ban on beef trade between our two countries. This is an important issue, and I am encouraged by recent bilateral discussions, which are paving the way for a resumption of two-way trade in beef. Both sides have work to do to ensure that we follow the framework that was established last October. In working on the necessary regulations to allow Japanese beef into the United States, we are moving ahead with due diligence and a true desire to establish a verifiable program to provide safe U.S. beef to the Japanese consumer. I trust that my Japanese colleagues also share that same commitment to restoring that trade as soon as possible.

My friends, during the past year, you have all heard so many rumors about the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, and I am sure everyone may be confused. Thankfully, Deputy Secretary Armitage and Secretary Powell used their recent visits here as opportunities to move the dialog about these issues away from speculation. As Secretary Powell said after meeting Foreign Minister Machimura in October, we are expanding our dialog about the deployment and transformation of U.S. military forces in Japan to a more strategic level. It is important that we understand each other's strategic concept, so that all of the separate issues about bases and roles and missions are grounded in that larger vision.

The U.S.- Japan security alliance is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in this part of the world, and I think both of our countries have a responsibility to maintain that. So we need to come up with solutions that help us maintain the alliance and meet the needs of both countries.

In that regard, I remember what Secretary Rumsfeld told the governor of Okinawa a little over a year ago. He told the governor that the fundamental policy of the United States is that we recognize the burden that we have placed on Okinawa and we wish to reduce it. We cannot forget, of course, that U.S. Forces are in this country to guarantee the security of Japan. Their presence has contributed directly to peace and security in the entire region.

Let me add one final thought on this topic. Whatever is done that affects our security treaty will be done in close consultation between our two countries, and that takes time, but it is true to the spirit of our relationship. We stand together in the search for peace. We stand together in the hope that we can contribute to the stability, not only of the Asian-Pacific region, but to other regions of the world as well.

And finally, let me say that it once again it is a pleasure to be with you here. My wife and I have many friends in Japan, and over the course of our stay here, there have been many good times. We have traveled extensively; wefve admired your culture; we have learned something about your country and its people; and it has been a remarkable opportunity. But I must also add, my friends, that some say Ifm an amateur diplomat, but rather a committed photographer, so it has also been a magnificent opportunity for me to gratify my wish to photograph this great country. The thing that stands out most in my mind is the warmth and friendship of the Japanese people.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: In the past three years, while you were acting as the Ambassador to Tokyo, what was the thing that you feel most proud of, and vice versa, what is it that you feel is most regrettable?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Perhaps I should answer just half of your question. I can say without any reservation that the thing I treasure most in my relationship to Japan during this tenure as U.S. Ambassador, is that it appears to me - and I hope it is true; I believe it is true - it appears to me that the relationship and friendship between our two countries is greater now than it was three years ago. If that's so, I count my time here and my small contribution to that, as a great success.

On the other side, on the disappointments, I could go on at some length about our failure to solve the beef import problem. A number of others I used to think were going to be failures turned out to be great successes. For instance, in my early days in Japan I received an avalanche of cables from Washington: 'You must insist that the Japanese solve the problem of their non-performing loans.' And after about 10 of those messages, I sent word back: 'They're going to do it; they're going to solve the problem; but Japan's going to do it in its own way and its own time.' And indeed you have done that, by and large, and I think it's a tribute to Japan and its good judgment in addressing this issue in a Japanese way.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. As an alliance partner, do you have any advice for Japan, or even complaints to Japan if any, as an ally?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Advice? About the relationship? I am an optimist by nature, and I keep careful track of those things that go well and I try to forget the things that don't. But I must tell you, there are very few things in our relationship that have not yielded to common sense, careful negotiation and a successful result. So I must say, as I did earlier, that I think the greatest development in the last three and a half years has been an extension of understanding between our two countries and a growing friendship as well as alliance. I can understand how we can be allies, but it's more difficult to understand why we have become such good friends. But we have, with perhaps the best friendship between two large nations in the entire world. It is an unlikely development, but it is true. We may never figure it out completely, but both America and Japan should be proud of it.

QUESTION: Thank you. The next question concerns Iraq. The Japanese government has decided on the extension of the SDF dispatch, but the public support in the opinion poll is not sufficient. Some of the reasons being that a lot of women and children are being murdered, and they find it unreasonable, and that it is done by the American forces, according to the Japanese belief. So what do you say to convince the Japanese public when they believe in such a thing?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Let me address first the question of atrocities against women and children. I believe that is not the case. I think this country, Iraq, has been subject to the cruelty of a dictatorship and authoritarianism for many years, and I think some of that still continues in the insurgencies that are going on in Iraq now. I believe that American troops are careful, humane, generous - but inevitably, there are accidents, and we grieve over that. But I do not accept the premise that American troops have killed women and children indiscriminately. I think that is not so. It is not in the American character and it is certainly not an American purpose. However, I must say as well that there is still terror abroad in Iraq. There are still insurgents within Iraq and from outside Iraq who are determined to see that peace and domestic order is not restored in Iraq. And that belligerency has caused grievous injury to the population of Iraq, and I predict that it will end, and that it will end by Iraq having restored a democratic system, having conducted successful elections, and that we will look back on this unfortunate conflict the same way we look back on all unfortunate wars: it was not a good thing, but it was a necessary thing.

Let me say, by the way, that I've always counted it a mark of leadership when government officials, being fully aware of the fact that the polls are not in their favor on an issue, decide in their good judgment to go forward. It is not without risk, but it is a measure of courage, and effective leadership - perhaps even statesmanship. But given the fact that the polls do not always support the Koizumi administration's foreign policy, the prime minister has persevered and has done the right thing, and I think he will be remembered as a courageous prime minister who rose to the challenge.

QUESTION: Thank you. The next question: Japan, the U.S. and China - a question about the three countries and their relationship. Between Japan and China, we say that it's hot between economies but rather cold relationship in terms of the political relationship, but the U.S. traditionally does not really like China and Japan to become too cozy and friendly. So in this regard, there is the issue of the East Asian community initiative, so Ambassador, looking at this kind of movement, is this convenient or inconvenient for the United States?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Let me gently disagree with the assumption of the question. I do not believe for one moment that the United States doesn't favor a good relationship between Japan, China and the United States. The United States policy has been for many years that we do not choose up sides between Japan, say, and China; but rather, we urge diplomatic initiative, careful understanding and cooperation. That is still the policy of the United States.

It was most recently indicated when President Bush expressed the disagreement of the American government over the proposal to take "China" out of the name of Taiwanese facilities around the world. I think it is clear that that was done to maintain the balance of neutrality in the relationship.

I think, as well, that perhaps the most serious and challenging issue of our time is how Japan and China arrange a peaceful and cooperative relationship. You are both superpowers. You both have enormous wealth. You have a significant military capability, but you are also the cornerstone of peace in the Asia-Pacific region. It is the purpose of the United States - it is the policy of the United States - to advance the cause of friendship and cooperation between China, Japan and the United States.

I think that also is visible in the six-party talks, which by their very nature include six parties in the region. So I suggest that instead of a question about what America fears about a growing China or a growing Japan, to say that America does not fear that. America is by nature a confident country, but America also understands that Japan is a democratic country, and we urge that you proceed to formulate your own foreign policy - not America's foreign policy - to address questions before us. And the central theme, in my view, is how does Japan arrange its relationship with China in the future? It's going to be difficult, but it is imperative that that be done.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Another part of that question was about the East Asian community, and that concept has, in more recent times, become more popular, so how do you feel, Mr. Ambassador, about this initiative, about this concept?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: I was taught years ago that there are some questions I must answer; there are some questions I can answer if I wish to; but there are some questions I should never answer. And this falls in that category.

QUESTION: Related to the earlier question about the election in Taiwan in recent times, how do you feel about the result of that recent election in Taiwan?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: America has the same attitude toward domestic politics in Taiwan that it does about domestic politics in Japan. That is, we will not try to dictate how those elections come out. And we did not. But having concluded the elections in a way that was not challenging to China - because, among other things, there were different positions on the renaming of Taiwanese facilities around the world - the fact that that happened, I believe, did relieve some of the tensions - potential difficulties - between Taiwan and China. If that's so - and I believe it is so - it is significantly beneficial, not only to Taiwan and China, but also to Japan and the United States.

QUESTION: The next question is about the United Nations Security Council and the reform. Japan is aspiring to become a member of the permanent members, and in that event, should the veto right be given to Japan - what do you think, Sir? And another question also: There is a discussion about expanding the permanent membership, with Japan, Germany, India and Brazil. These four countries may join. What do you feel about this prospect, Sir?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: I commend the group who were appointed by the secretary general of the U.N. to consider appropriate revision of the charter requirements for the organization of the U.N. It's time to consider that issue, and I think the commission that is presently involved is fully capable of making good recommendations on it. Almost certainly one of the recommendations will be that the Security Council be increased in number. Exactly how many, I cannot tell you, but as all of you perhaps know, the United States has always and consistently advocated that Japan should be a permanent member of the Security Council, and we continue that policy, and we do it publicly and privately.

And on the question of Japan having a veto, if you're a member of the Security Council, you should be a member of the Security Council, and that would imply, in my view, that if you're elected full membership - permanent membership - of the Security Council, that you have all the rights and all the responsibilities that go with that. So my answer to you is yes, I think Japan should. I think if you have two different classes of permanent members of the Security Council - that is, those who have a veto and those who do not - that you will have defeated the purpose. So if Japan is elected to the Security Council, I think it should be fully elected to the Security Council and not partially related to the Security Council. But I do not have a good view of where this will end up. That is how many members will be invited, if any, to join the Security Council.

On the question of responsibilities, it is clear that members of the Security Council have responsibilities - not only peacekeeping responsibilities on occasion and when called for - but other responsibilities as well. And as Japan goes forward with this program to gain a permanent seat on the Security Council, you must consider that. You must consider that it will have an impact on Japan's attitude toward itself and its willingness to be involved - even militarily - in other parts of the world. That's the way it works. But notwithstanding that, I believe Japan is fully committed to the application for a seat in the Security Council, and I know that the United States fully supports that.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Finally, we have a question concerning your photography. That you have taken many photographs are evidenced by the exhibits that you have, and we have a Kyodo exhibit until January next year. And although there was no question like that, the nature of Japan through your finder, through your lens, how did you see them? And also Japanese nationals, and the expression of those nationals: Would you like to comment on how you felt, through the lens?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: You can say that I have the view that photographers see the world in a different way. Perhaps it's because you see it through a viewfinder, and the world is rectangular, and is isolated and not comprehensive as it is with your eyes and your mind. That's the first thing. I think photographers, no matter how proficient or how amateur and new, see the world in a different way when they engage in photography.

There are many types of photography, and I have sampled them all. I've done photography of people, of animals, of landscapes. Once I did pictures for almost a year of nothing except windows and doors, and by the way, windows and doors are the eyes of a building. So my particular interest in Japan was not necessarily the magnificent landscapes of this country, but rather the little things that say so much about a culture and its people, and there are so many to do.

Most recently I did a picture of the ancient wooden gate at the Imperial Palace. Another time, Nancy and I went to a sale, a shrine sale, and I had a wonderful time taking pictures - and they turned out very well - of old rusty locks, and a picture of discarded photographs. There are many things like that that perhaps only photographers see, but photography is a pleasure for me. I have no illusions about my artistic ability, but photography does two things. The first is to become my diary, of my life, and the other is, it permits me to express whatever creativity I have about the world around me. That's longer than your question deserves, but that's what I wanted to say.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We would like to take further questions from the floor. If you would please raise your hand, and then please wait for me to recognize you. And then please find a microphone. Please tell us who you are, and please try to be concise and precise.

QUESTION: I was with the Nikkei Shimbun, and I am a critic of international affairs. My name is Niwasawa. The United States is suffering from a major deficit. You are suffering from the twin deficits. What's going to happen with these numbers? In fact, all the world, including Japan, is very concerned about the fiscal situation. On top of that, you have the Iraqi situation, which means expenditures can only be expected to increase. Mr. Ambassador, you said that indicates of non-performing assets of Japan, that Japan did what she could do on her own. Therefore, in the case of U.S.A., how are you going to deal with the major issue of the twin deficits? What is your prospect?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: I should point out first of all that balance of trade, balance of payments, indeed exchange rates are not directly comparable to your personal checkbook. That is, you do not run a balance of how much you spent and how much you have left. Rather, the true measure of the economic vitality of a nation is the condition of its economy, and in my view, the United States has a vigorous, successful economy - very large. It is the largest in the world, and by the way, Japan's is the second-largest in the world. But given the fact that I'm convinced that America's economy is in sound shape, I frankly think that the balance of payments and balance of trade deficits are temporary. It's not appropriate to say unimportant, but it is appropriate to say that they are not controlling. As long as the economy stays healthy - as long as our wealth-producing capacity remains intact - then we must judge that the country has a bright economic future.

QUESTION: My name is Hasegawa of the Nikkei. Since this question was not asked, I would like to ask the question concerning the Kyoto Protocol. As far as the global warming is concerned, Japan has ratified it. Europe, Australia and other countries have ratified it. The EU has ratified it, but the U.S. is not participating in that, so even in your successor's period, will the same attitude continue?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: (inaudible) administration on its future policy on the Kyoto Protocol. What I can say is, it is generally believed, in expert circles and government circles, that the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol fall unduly harsh on the United States. Example: Russia will have no trouble with the Kyoto Protocol because of its vast and expansive forests, which serve as a CO2 sink. They will have to do nothing at all. They will not have to reduce the emission levels of their smokestacks, because they have sufficient credit from their forest products. In the case of the EU, it's much smaller. It is more advanced on the matter of control technologies than most countries, and they too will not have as serious a problem. But in the United States, in time perhaps, the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol will be appropriate, but now they would be unduly punishing, and I'm sure that's why the administration chose not to recommend ratification.

I'll express a personal note now. When I was in the United States Senate, I was one of the two principle co-sponsors of the Air and Water Pollution Act in 1970, so I have a background of concern about the environment, but I feel that the next opportunity for the world and for the United States is to revise the Kyoto Protocol so that it takes account of the inequality of the burden that's placed on different countries, as in the example I gave you with Russia. But I think you want me to say whether I think the second Bush administration will call for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and my answer, I guess, is: in its present form, I do not think so.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Yes please. I think this will be the last question.

QUESTION: I am Suzuki from TV Asahi. (inaudible) in 2001 I still remember I covered a ceremony in which you were sworn in by the President as U.S. Ambassador to Japan in the presence of a pretty impressive group of more than 300 distinguished guests. I still remember that ceremony quite vividly. I still remember that the President explained that your appointment was made in line with the U.S. tradition of having high-level figures - political figures or "Omono" as the President himself called them - serve as American ambassadors to Japan. I'm sure Japan will miss you very much. I'm sure we will miss you more than we missed the other former ambassadors, because this long cherished tradition could be abandoned, as the President appoints his close friend and former business partner as your successor. Now after three and a half years of your service in Japan, what do you think is the biggest advantage of having an "Omono" ambassador in Japan, and what is the biggest disadvantage of not having "Omono" here? And what is your advice to Ambassador Thomas Schieffer, as he heads from Canberra to Tokyo? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR BAKER: First I should say I was absolutely right when I said the last question is always the hardest question. But I will try to answer it. Number one: I too remember that great ceremony in the East Room of the White House with the President administering the oath of office. And as I stood there, I thought I was surprised when the President asked me to do this, and then I realized I was more surprised when I agreed to do it. But I did, and I'm glad to be here. Nancy and I have had a wonderful time here.

I cannot speak, really, on how Tom Schieffer - Ambassador Schieffer in Australia presently - will construct his arrangements. I will leave that up to him. But one of the values I think I brought to this job - if it was valuable - was my ability to talk to those who formulate the policies of our country, the President, the Vice President, the National Security Advisor, the Secretary of State, the Deputy Secretary of State, the Department of Energy, and the like, because most of those people I knew and had dealt with over the years. But Schieffer is not without that sort of contact, as well. You mentioned in your remarks that he was a former business partner and close friend of the President's. That is not an inconsequential asset. I'm sure Ambassador Schieffer can communicate with the President as freely as I did. And that will be a great asset as well. He does not have a legislative background, but he does have a business background. He will bring skill and insight, I am sure, into this job, and I will predict for you, as I do now, that he will serve with distinction in Japan.

MODERATOR: Well, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Our time has been limited, but we would like to thank Ambassador Baker for your wonderful presentation and your neat responses to all the questions. We would like to thank you once again for all the cooperation and kindness with our press club. On behalf of our press club, we would like to present something to show our feelings.

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Following Japanese tradition, I also have a gift for you. And it is a calendar that I prepared for next year, and I would like you to have it.

MODERATOR: We shall certainly display this at the club.