Ambassador Schieffer Speaks at FCCJ

Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer
Speech and Press Conference
Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

November 30, 2005

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: It is a great pleasure to be here. Over the years, many very distinguished speakers have addressed Japan from this platform, and I am honored that you have afforded me the opportunity.

In the midst of the American Revolution, Abigail Adams wrote to her young son John Quincy Adams that "... it is not in the still calm of life ... that characters are formed." Today, we live in times that are anything but calm. The international order is changing, the international economy is changing, and the international norms of behavior are under attack by terrorists. These are times when character is not only made but tested on a daily basis.

Sixty years ago, another test of character presented itself to the American and Japanese peoples. We had come to the end of a long and torturous war. One nation was triumphant, and the other was decimated. Some in America advocated a postwar policy of revenge, while some here advocated a postwar policy of distance between the United States and Japan.

Fortunately, wiser men and women on both sides of the Pacific had the courage and vision to make the decisions that would change our relationship forever. They understood that if the mistakes of the past were to be avoided, we could not continue to look upon each other as enemies. They made the hard decisions that replaced suspicion with trust and hate with hope. For sixty years, we have worked at healing the wounds of war. In the process, we came to realize that mutual understanding gives us the opportunity to recognize mutual interest. It is hard for me to see how it could have come out much better than it did.

America asked Japan to embrace the values of democracy and tolerance: free speech, a free press, and the freedom to worship as one pleases. The Japanese did so with enthusiasm, and those values - universal values, not American values - transformed Japan into a land of prosperity and freedom. We appealed to the best in the Japanese character, and the Japanese character responded in kind. Japan became a splendid example to others of what a free and open society could do for its citizens. While Japan and the United States became in subsequent years rivals in the marketplace, we never again took up arms against each other. Indeed, we are now the closest of allies, and the thought of us somehow winding up in a future conflict is beyond reasonable imagination. We have proved that the past need not be prologue to the future. History can be overcome. Strong enemies can become fast friends.

Sixty years is a long time. In the Asian context, it is the cycle of an entire life. As this cycle of our relationship comes to a close, we need to contemplate what the next sixty years will look like and what we should do together to make it as successful as the past sixty.

In matters of security, our two countries will continue to face the traditional state-to-state threats that have been a part of international relations since the invention of the nation-state. We will still need to maintain the same kind of certainty and capability in our alliance that deterred our enemies in the past. But the world order that emerged from the ashes of World War II is no more. The Soviet Union has collapsed. The Cold War is over, and Europe is largely secure. But a peaceful Europe does not guarantee a peaceful world.

The international order that we knew is redefining itself. China and India are asserting themselves as world powers. Russia is adjusting to the fact that it no longer commands an empire that allowed it to be a superpower.

Historical periods like this can be quite dangerous as powers try to find their place in the new order. When the red lines are not clearly known, uncertainty and angst can often be a part of foreign relations as powers jockey for position. But that need not be the case in this instance. Through dialogue and discourse, we can avoid the inherent risk that comes with change. We must be careful to tell people what we are trying to do, and we must encourage others to be open with their intentions and transparent in their governance. The more all sides do that, the better the chance we will have to avoid needless confrontation that comes from misunderstanding.

So what is America trying to do in the world? In the simplest terms, we believe in freedom: freedom in government and freedom in the marketplace. President Bush has repeatedly expressed his faith in the transformational strength of democracy. When people are free to choose their own government, criticize that government, and even change that government, then something magical happens: People start controlling governments instead of governments controlling people. And by the way, peace always seems to follow. We need not fear democratically elected governments. History shows us that tyrannies and dictatorships are the source of conflict, not democracies.

America understands that just being for freedom is not enough. We will have to offer leadership and assistance when we can to ensure that the best in national characters is allowed to bloom through democratic processes. So much of what we take for granted in mature democracies like the United States and Japan is still at issue in much of the world. In parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as Latin America, the hard choices between authoritarian and democratic governments, free markets and planned economies, have still not been finally made. The rule of law is still not firmly established. While America cannot be the final arbiter of every dispute, we can assist those who stand for freedom around the world. The United States and Japan have accomplished much in the last sixty years, but the job is not finished. Our support for democratic institutions and free markets in other places will still be needed for a long, long time if they are ultimately to succeed.

As we begin the next sixty years of our relationship, it is important to remember just how much our alliance has contributed to the well being of both our countries. During the last sixty years, Japan has been at peace, and the world has been spared another World War. A large part of the reason for that success lies in the presence of American troops here in Japan. Would-be aggressors were put on notice that a threat against Japan would be seen in America as a direct threat against the United States.

Yet, the presence of our forces in Japan is sometimes seen as a burden to Japanese. That is understandable. The presence of a foreign military anywhere in the world is no one's first choice. But the fact that American forces have been here gave Japan the opportunity it needed to build the second-largest economy in the world. At the same time, American forces here contributed to the peace and stability of the entire region. The alliance we developed over these many years has served the interests of both our countries well. We should continue to recognize and celebrate the contributions it has made to the peace and prosperity of both our countries and the entire region.

When those who oppose our forces being here make their arguments, we should ask two simple questions: If American forces were not here, would Japanese feel more secure? If American forces were not here, would the region be less dangerous? I think the overwhelming majority of Japanese would answer "no" to both questions. In the end, that is the secret of our alliance. It is a relationship that benefits both parties.

During the last few months, we have been involved in discussions that we hope will transform our alliance into a twenty-first century model capable of securing peace in the future as it has done in the past. A lot of the publicity surrounding those talks has concerned the movement of forces from one area to another. In approaching the talks, both Japan and the United States said they wanted to reduce the number of American forces here without reducing our capability. We think we have done that and more. Not only have we agreed to reduce the number of Marines in Okinawa by almost 40%, we have also said that we will return Futenma when a replacement facility can be built. We are also taking other steps that will deepen and strengthen our relationship for decades to come. Japan and the United States will for the first time establish a Bilateral and Joint Operations Coordination Center at Yokota Air Force Base. This facility will enhance missile defense for both our countries. We have also agreed to co-locate at Yokota, Japanfs Air Defense Command and our 5th Air Force Command. This, too, will play an important part in the future air and missile defense operations of both our countries. We will also increase joint U.S. Army and Ground Self-Defense Force command operations at Camp Zama. This will enhance our joint abilities to work together here in Japan and abroad on humanitarian efforts like tsunami and earthquake relief.

In addition, we have committed to more bilateral contingency planning, greater intelligence sharing, and greater training together. American facilities in Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, and the mainland of America will be open to training by Self-Defense Forces of Japan. With this agreement, we are seeing the real transformation of our bases in Japan from American facilities to joint facilities that give each of us a greater ability to work together in behalf of our common interests. We want to do more with Japan, because Japan and the United States acting together can be a powerful force for good in Asia and the world. A Japan and an America that are more interdependent, more interoperable, and more capable are a Japan and America ready to meet the challenges of an unsettled world.

While traditional threats have not gone away and traditional means of deterring them will remain the linchpin of our alliance, we must recognize that non-traditional threats will also shape our alliance in the twenty-first century. The events of September 11 remind us that our citizens are at risk as they go about their daily lives. Terrorism is the bane of our time because it threatens the fabric of every society. If people cannot walk their own streets, choose their own thoughts, and worship their own way, then civilization as we know it will cease to exist. Terrorists threaten our freedom just as much as any ideology of the twentieth century, because they challenge society at its most basic level. Nothing will work if we allow those who would wantonly kill innocents to drive the decision-making process of society. If we allow the terrorists to win, hate will replace the hope in our lives.

To meet the security challenges of non-traditional threats we will need to think in non-traditional terms. That does not mean that we will need to curtail peoplefs civil liberties - freedom is what we are trying to promote, not prevent - but it does mean that we will need to develop security strategies different than we have had in the past.

We must understand that the cop on the beat or the citizen on the subway could be our first line of defense against enemies who wear no uniform and fly no flag. We must understand that interdicting illicit activities, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, controlling our borders, and exchanging intelligence with our allies may provide as much security to our citizens as any weapons system that we have developed in the past. And we must not lose faith in the justness of our cause. Terrorists are not victims. No cause can justify the death and destruction of the innocent. We must stop the terrorists in their tracks before they can do harm to others.

As we face the traditional and non-traditional threats of the twenty-first century, we must not fool ourselves into thinking that the cost of a modern defense will be cheap. We hear a lot of talk in Japan about the burden borne by Japanese communities. We understand and appreciate the arguments they make. At the same time, we respectfully ask the Japanese people to understand that Americans have borne a heavy burden throughout the life of our alliance. The American taxpayer will spend more than 3.7% of gross domestic product on national defense this year. The Japanese will spend less than 1%. In real dollars, we will spend more than ten times as much as Japan on defense. As the threat of terrorism expanded and the need for traditional deterrence remained, the United States increased its defense spending by almost 50% over the last four years. Yet the amount of real dollars spent in Japan on defense over that last four years has actually declined. We believe that increased American capability translates into increased security for Japan. I raise this point to answer those who infer that Japan is the only partner in the alliance that is bearing a heavy burden for our mutual security. Both our governments are facing severe financial constraints, but both our governments must know that nothing is more dear than the safety and security of our citizens. The challenges of an emerging world will require both our governments to spend more on national defense than they would like.

But security is only part of the freedom agenda. Freedom in the marketplace is essential to the growth of both our economies. The United States believes that trade and access to world markets will cure many of the social ills that still plague much of the world. The United States and Japan should both recognize the enormous opportunity we have to flourish in a globalized world. As technologically savvy and well-educated nations rich in capital, we need not fear change. In fact, we should be eager to lead it. We must not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of isolationism and protectionism. Opening our markets to each other will provide consumers with cheaper goods and businesses with better opportunities, and that means more jobs for everyone. The worldfs largest and second-largest economies combined could have enormous impact on the direction of the world economy. That is why we have urged Japan to join us in developing innovative ways to break the logjam in the Doha Round of the WTO talks. Both of us are sensitive to agricultural sectors in our own economies, but cutting that Gordian knot will unlock a wide range of reforms that can benefit each of us. The United States and Japan are trading nations. We must not allow the forces of protectionism and bureaucracy to keep us from enjoying the fruits of an expanding world economy.

Two weeks ago the president of the United States completed his third visit to Japan. He met with Prime Minister Koizumi in the beautiful State Guest House in Kyoto. They had a long and productive talk and enjoyed a wonderful Japanese meal together. As is well known, the two leaders are quite close. They have come to enjoy each other's company very much.

The irony of their friendship has not been lost on the president. He mentioned it in his speech in Kyoto. His father and the prime minister's father fought on opposite sides in the last war. Yet the sons of those warriors have become the closest of allies and the best of friends in their pursuit of peace.

Their relationship is built on shared beliefs. Both believe that democracy is still the wave of the future. Both believe that freedom still works, and both believe that the key to a safe and stable Asia lies in the continuance of a close and strong alliance between the United States and Japan.

Some in the media said that there was little news in their meeting because there was little controversy. I beg to differ. The real news was that there was no controversy. We had just concluded some very tough and serious negotiations on the future of our alliance. We did not always start out at the same point, but we listened to each other, and we recognized that friends can have differing points of view. And like friends and partners we worked them out. Neither one of us wanted petty differences to get in the way of the big vision we had for our alliance.

The United States and Japan have a great relationship because they share common values. Our democracies function in very different ways. Our languages and cultures are very different. Our history has not always been peaceful. But we have both come to believe in the same basic building blocks of society: freedom, democracy, and tolerance. We get along because we both trust our people to make the right decisions - the decisions of character - when the hard yards of history have to be won.

It has been a great sixty years, full of hope, renewal, and accomplishment. Now, the United States stands ready to continue and strengthen this grand alliance between our two great democracies.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador. At this point, we'll open the floor to questions from our working press. As we have a number of working press, very likely we will only have the journalists asking questions today. As is our custom, once recognized, please come up, state your name and affiliation, and please limit yourself to one question. And as always, no speeches.

QUESTION: Noah Akushumi, freelance defense affairs reporter. I would like to focus on a very small, nitty-gritty point of question right now being heated up in Japan, and that is the replacement aircraft carrier to be assigned in Yokosuka. The local authorities are demanding, probably out of ignorance, a conventional aircraft carrier, but you don't have - the U.S. does not have - too many conventional carrier vessels. It should be like CBM. What is your opinion about that?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, first of all, I think the chief of naval operations advised me that the Navy is moving toward an all-nuclear fleet. The Kitty Hawk is the oldest aircraft carrier that we have in our fleet, and I think it was commissioned in 1961, something like that. And it's performed admirably, but it is a ship that is going to be replaced. And the John F. Kennedy is the only other conventional carrier that we have, and I would suspect that we are moving toward a situation where it too would be decommissioned. So that leaves us with primarily a question of whether we are going to have a nuclear-powered carrier here or no carrier, and I think that the overwhelming feeling would be, both on the American and Japanese side, that that carrier will give us a capability that is necessary for this part of the world.

And I think that on the safety issue, it is very important for us to remember that nuclear-powered ships have made 1,200 visits to Japan without one incident that has caused harm to a human being or to the environment. We think we have an impeccable safety record and that this ship can operate safely in Japanese waters, just as it has operated safely in the waters of the world. And when we have that carrier here, I think our capability will be increased, and as I said in the speech, I think when we increase the capability of American forces, we increase the security of Japan.

QUESTION: Sam Jameson, freelance. Secretary of State Rice in the spring and President Bush just the other day publicly supported a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for Japan. Many other American officials have done so also, but not one of them has said anything about whether that permanent seat will bear veto power or not. Has any American official assured the Japanese privately what they have not said publicly, that the United States does support a veto power for Japan, and why is the United States keeping with this point secret from the public in its public statements?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I don't think we're keeping anything secret from the public. I don't think we have really addressed that point definitively. I think that we are looking at United Nations reform from two vantage points. First, the UN needs reform. I think that the management scandals, the financial scandals indicate that we've got to do something to restore the faith in the integrity of the United Nations. That's paramount. The second thing is that we want United Nations Security Council reform. And the first step in that reform, to us, is a seat for Japan on the Security Council.

Now, what that means beyond that, and how to achieve that is the difficult part, because not everyone agrees with us on that, and others have candidacies. And what we have said is, we think that the number of permanent members could be increased by a couple or so, and the UN (Security) Council would function very well. What we're concerned about is a widening of the Security Council to the point that it could not act decisively if a matter came before it. So we want UN reform. We want Japan to be on the Security Council. And we want to work with others to accomplish all of those goals.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, I think that that's a matter that will have to be worked out in the process of the expansion of the Security Council.

QUESTION: Richard Smith, freelance for a number of farming weeklies, including Livestock Weekly of San Angelo. You mentioned the trade and agricultural issues. What do you think of Japan's openness to resuming beef imports from the U.S. and Canada? Please don't restrict yourself just to that issue, but of foodstuffs in general, and not just from the US. Do you see Japan being more open to food imports, and what should countries that want to trade with Japan do to ensure more openness, please?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, the BSE issue has been extraordinarily frustrating for all of us that have worked on it. We continue to believe that the science is overwhelmingly in favor of allowing beef into Japan. And we base that on the fact that no animal has ever carried this disease that was 20 months or younger. And all we have asked in this initial negotiation is that 20 months or younger beef be allowed into Japan. And we frankly have been frustrated at the inability of that to happen.

But hopefully we're getting closer to that. The public comments have closed, and we don't believe that any significant substantial scientific evidence exists that would prohibit that from happening. So hopefully we are on the threshold of that ban being lifted.

I think that we made a very aggressive proposal in the Doha round to reduce subsidies. Our idea is that if we can get all of the big subsidizing entities - and that's basically the United States, Japan, and the European Union - to agree to back off and to compete in the marketplace, then we'll all be better off. And as you know, that's a very difficult proposition to carry. Japan is a country that will continue to import the majority of its food. We think, with greater access to world agricultural markets, the Japanese consumer would be able to buy food at a much cheaper price that they do today. We think that competition will solve a lot of problems.

And the problem in the Doha round is, if we get hung up on agricultural issues, we're not going to be able to move on to other things. And I was try to suggest in the remarks that I made was, we need to tackle this head on, and we need to come to a resolution. And the resolution is really going to have to be between the United States, Japan, and the European Union on how to solve the problem. Because this is getting in the way of solving a whole wide range of issues that I think would result in a freer trading world economy, and I think a freer trading world economy would be an economy that grows faster for everybody. And everybody benefits in that regard.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, sir. My name is Staff Sergeant Brandon Vardis from the American Forces Network here in Tokyo. Last week during the LDP's 50th anniversary, alot of the rumblings that were happening over at the Gaimusho (Foreign Ministry) centered over the possible transformation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, expanding the role of the Self-Defense Forces. My question is, does the United States support a transformation of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces; and the second part is, how would that transform change the relationship that already exists between the United States and Japan, when it comes to defense?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, the decision on whether to reform Article 9 is a decision that the Japanese have to make. And they have to come to a conclusion as to what they are comfortable with. That's not an American issue per se. Having said that, I think that this agreement that we've reached is indicative of our attitude on the Japanese-American alliance. We'd love to do more with Japan, and we think that we can do more together to ensure the peace of the world. That doesn't mean that we do more to be provocative. That doesn't mean that we do more warlike things, but we think that we can act together and leverage our assets to a greater extent in the future. But the decision on that matter will have to be a decision that the Japanese make, as to how far they want to go in that direction.

QUESTION: Andrew Horvath, freelance. Mr. Ambassador, Sino-Japanese relations have taken a turn for much the worse. There have been anti-Japanese demonstrations in China as well as Korea. And Japanese opinion of Chinese has, according to polls, has been very low. Since the United States has a very good relationship with Japan and a very good working relationship with China, do you see a role for the United States in helping to defuse this situation, in order to promote a more stable Northeast Asian environment?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I don't know that we have a direct role to play in that regard, but I think that the United States hopes that Japan and China can work out their differences. It's important to the whole region that people get along out here. But the United States is not the final arbiter of every dispute. And I think that the differences that the Chinese and Japanese are having are ones that they have to address, and they have to come to a conclusion as to how to do that.

QUESTION: Satoru Suzuki with TV Asahi. Mr. Ambassador, I would like to follow up on Andrew's question about the U.S. role in improving Japan's China relations. In your Asahi Shimbun article, as Dan pointed out, you quoted Prime Minister Koizumi as saying, and let me repeat, "There's no such thing as a US-Japan relationship that's too close." Now, Mr. Ambassador, do you also agree with Prime Minister Koizumi when he said at the same press conference that the better the US-Japan alliance, the easier it would be for Japan to establish better relations with China, South Korea, and other neighboring countries?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think that when we have a close relationship with Japan, I think everything works. Everything works in our alliance, and I think that works to the benefit of both of us, and the rest of Asia and the rest of the world. And I don't think that we can have a relationship that is too close. I agree with the prime minister on that point.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, my name is Amon Finkelton. I'm an author of a book on the geopolitical importance of advanced manufacturing. You will know something that most people here probably do not know ...

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Don't count on that.

QUESTION: ... that Japan's current account surplus last year was $172 billion, the largest of any nation in history and three times its current account surplus in 1989. I would like to ask you about the American automobile industry in this context. As you know, there are some German cars here. There seems to be some sort of cartel arrangement between Germany and Japan that allows a token presence by German cars here. The French supposedly run one of the major Japanese car companies, but you see no French cars on the roads here. The Koreans compete against the Japanese all over the world, but they're not here. The American car industry, as you know, is not here. The reason that the American car industry no longer complains about the situation is because it is apparently so dependent on key parts from Japan that it fears retaliation if it were to complain. My question to you is this: Do you think that the American car industry has had a fair deal from Japan? Yes or no?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I don't get to amplify on that? (Laughter.) I think that the automobile industry is probably the most globalized industry in the world. I think it is worth noting that all the difficulties that occurred in the 1980s about Japanese imports into America and all that, you haven't heard much about that lately, even though the American car companies are having great difficulties. I think the reason for that is that the Japanese diversified and built a lot of plants in the United States. I think I'm right when I say that Toyota actually employs more Americans now than it employs Japanese. I think that's an indication of what the market is doing.

We think that the more you can get into each other's markets, the more access each has to the other's market, the better off everybody is. They can invest in plants in both places. Toyota, for instance, is going to open up a plant in November in San Antonio, where my wife is from. It's going to employ about 2,000 Texans. It's going to use parts that come out of Canada, as well as parts that come out of Mexico. They're going to be assembled there in San Antonio to sell into ... and they're going to build pickup trucks, which are ... about half of the pickup trucks in America are sold in Texas. And so they're going to try to penetrate that market. I think the fact that they opened that plant there has got everybody excited, because it's creating American jobs.

And what we have to do is to have an economy, a world economy, that creates American jobs and Japanese jobs at the same time. And whether that's the automobile industry, the pharmaceutical industry or medical devices or whatever, that's the goal that I think both of us ought to be working toward. And the idea that somehow we can carve out one sector and protect it, or carve out one industry and protect it, I think is obsolete. And I think that the great force of economic reformation in the world is telling us that you can't defeat globalization. It's going to occur, whether you like it or not. What you need to do is to figure out how to benefit from it. And what we have are two economies that are very mature, very sophisticated, that can compete. They can not only compete, but they can lead.

Tom Friedman's book, which is called "The World is Flat," is an enormously successful book in the United States, and it talks about this effect of a globalized world. But one of the things that struck me in one of the pages was - and I'll get the number wrong - but it was something like 2 million jobs were lost in America - manufacturing jobs were lost in America. Eight million manufacturing jobs were lost in China. The popular perception would be that American manufacturing jobs are moving to China. The reality of it is that manufacturing jobs everywhere are becoming scarcer. Because everywhere this effect of a world market, an expanding market, is having an effect, and I think what we need to do is recognize that and try to encourage the reduction of regulation and barriers to entry to various markets. And whether that's automobiles or anything else, I think that's what we ought to be doing.

QUESTION: Thank you. I'm Deborah Cameron from the Sydney Morning Herald of the VIH Newspapers, the Australian contingent. You said earlier that Japan and the U.S. had worked at healing the wounds of war. The wounds of war are not healed between Japan and China. Last week the Chinese ambassador said there was no greater wound than the Yasukuni Shrine. I'm wondering what your view is of the prime minister's continued visits there. And is there, accepting what you say about China and Japan having to sort this out between them, who else can help them, if the U.S. doesn't?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: First, that's a question that I've often been asked - not on Yasukuni but on why can't the United States get country X and country Y to resolve their differences? And that's a very frustrating thing for American diplomats, because we aren't the last arbiter of every dispute in the world. And when the decision gets hard, the first country that gets called is the United States, and I'm not sure that's a good thing for anybody. But having said that, I think Japan is trying to figure out how it's going to honor its war dead. And I think that's a decision that Japan has to conclude, and I'm not sure that it is terribly helpful for foreigners to opine as to how that should be done. It seems to me that the Japanese political process has not resolved that issue, because when I look at the polls, Japan seems to be quite split as to whether the prime minister ought to go to Yasukuni or not go to Yasukuni. Again, I think that's for Japan to decide. Having said that, I think the relationship that Japan and the United States have is extraordinary, and one of the reasons it's extraordinary is because we have been trying - we were able to - put our differences in the past behind us, and we were able to look forward. Sixty years is a long time, and history didn't stop 60 years ago. History has continued, and in those 60 years, Japan has been a model international citizen. And I think that people should take that into account when they try to resolve this whole historical issue. But again, it's not for the United States to say how China and Japan should resolve this. It's for the Chinese and Japanese to do that.

MODERATOR: All right, at this moment I will open up the floor to all our guests today. Kenny?

QUESTION: Ken Zustance, freelance. First of all, you do very good on Japanese TV, and I would like to see more commentary come across on that.

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: You think my Japanese is pretty good, do you?

QUESTION: No, they do the earphone thing very well. You referred to it just little bit earlier, but last week the Iraqi foreign minister was in Japan, and he specifically referred to the relationship between the U.S. and Japan as a future example for Iraq, as they are putting together the current Iraqi constitution. In fact, I'm completing a book on the Japanese Constitution, and in speaking with probably a few hundred people, the constant theme that comes up is that the Japanese are extremely proud of their Constitution. The U.S. had a role in it, but it did not force it upon Japan, as normally believed. But the Japanese are extremely proud of the Constitution, but there is this constant feeling that the United States is strongly pressuring Japan to change that constitution. And really the simple question is, is that true, and is it possible for the relationship between the U.S. and Japan to keep current under the constitution that it has now?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, we've booked a pretty good relationship under the current constitution. I don't think we are pressuring Japan to change the constitution. I think, as I said earlier, that's for the Japanese people to decide. And they're going through that process, and we'll be happy to work with Japan if the constitution remains the same, or if it's changed.

QUESTION: (Doug Hunter, FCCJ President and AP correspondent) Mr. Ambassador, I'm going to take the liberty to ask you a question that I kind of referred to in my introductory remarks. Sometimes the bilateral ties of the nations are personalized - the Ron and Yasu era, if you want to call it the Jun and George era - but as I mentioned, the prime minister has said he would step down next year. Last week, your colleague from the Chinese Embassy, Ambassador Wang, was asked, "How would China view a Shinzo Abe cabinet, or what would relations be like?" He diplomatically sidestepped that. Rather than ask you on a specific prime minister of sorts, basically can I ask you how you see the relationship transitioning on the departure of Mr. Koizumi?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think that to begin with, there's just no question that the prime minister and president are very close friends. But that friendship dates from the time that each of them assumed office. They get along; it's easy for them to talk to one another. So many times in the summits and whatnot, they're very choreographed in the sense that each side has their book, and you go in and you say, "Mr. President, please raise these issues," and the other side basically knows what issues you're going to raise - they're going to respond this way. That just doesn't happen with the president and prime minister. They basically go in and talk with each other like friends would talk to each other. And they bring up what they want to bring up. There are kind of no off-limits as to what they can talk about. And they're very comfortable with one another. I think that's very beneficial, but I don't think that the mutual interests that Japan and the United States share will end when either one of them leaves office. Those mutual interests are what bind us together, and it may make things a little faster or whatnot in dealing with issues to have a really good relationship between the two leaders. But it's not the only thing that's involved in the relationship. I know that the president will work very hard to develop the same kind of friendship with the prime minister's successor as he has with Prime Minister Koizumi. I would guess that no matter who follows President Bush in office that the Japanese prime minister will try to develop a very close relationship with the American president. It's because it's in the interests of both countries to do that. And I think we ought not to forget that in this whole personality discussion.

QUESTION: Christian Caryl, Newsweek. Mr. Ambassador, in a few weeks a number of Asian nations, including Japan, will be meeting at the East Asian Summit in Kuala Lumpur. As you know, the United States has been excluded from that meeting. I would be very curious to hear the administration position on this. Is there a concern that this meeting could lead to the formation of a bloc that somehow doesn't accommodate U.S. interests in the region? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think the concern that we've had over the years about the East Asian summit was, was it going to be an effort to exclude America from Asia? And if it is an effort to exclude America from Asia, then we do have some concerns, because we look upon ourselves as a Pacific nation. We're not an Asian nation, but we're a Pacific nation. In my judgment, that's the same as being an Atlantic nation without being a European nation. As long as we can participate in Asia, and as long as no one is trying to exclude us from Asia, then I don't think we have a particular problem with any forum or whatnot, even if it doesn't include us. But if the purpose is to exclude this, then I think we would have a problem. We'll just have to see how the East Asian summit develops and all of that. I think it has broadened considerably from what it was first thought of - Australia, India, New Zealand have been included. We think that was a very good thing to do. We think it broadens the scope of it, and we'll just see how it comes out.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Inamura, the Oriental Economist. I detect in some circles of American foreign policy intellectuals criticism to Koizumi's Yasukuni visit. [Inaudible.] They say it's an unnecessary provocation in the East Asian political situation, and besides, they are afraid it would possibly touch off an emotional debate over the legitimacy of the Tokyo War Tribunal. So would you share their concern?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I don't have a concern that the war tribunals are really being questioned. I think that is an issue that was finally resolved. The Japanese accepted the conclusions of the war tribunal in the peace treaty that they signed with the United States, and I think that ended the matter. That's not to say that there are not still some in Japan that argue that the war tribunals were illegal, but I just don't think that's anywhere close to a majority view of the Japanese. As to intellectual concerns about some sort of split or whatnot, I don't know. I think Americans look at this issue as one that is primarily a Japanese issue that needs to be decided by the Japanese, and we hope that it will be.

QUESTION: Recently there was a trilateral meeting between the United States, Japan, and Australia, where you spent four years. It got very little publicity, but they spent five hours talking to each other, which I presume indicated that something significant happened there. Do you foresee a sort of trilateral security relationship developing between Japan, Australia, and the United States?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think one of the things that happens in Asia - and I think the United States' policy in Asia is really the untold success story of the first Bush administration, because if you look around Asia, we have developed extraordinarily good relations with a lot of different people. Japan, you begin with: we have very good relationships with Japan, the best ever, according to Prime Minister Koizumi. You look at China - the Chinese will say that we have the best relationship we've ever had with them. If you look at India, we have the best relationship with India that we've ever had. If you look at Pakistan, we still have a great relationship, perhaps as good or better than it's ever been. If you look in places like Southeast Asia, where we did a free-trade agreement with Singapore, we're in the process of doing a free-trade agreement with Thailand. We have a very good and growing relationship with Indonesia and President Yudhoyono, elected there in the first-ever direct election of a president, and an election that an incumbent was defeated and left office peacefully. If you look where I was in Australia, Prime Minister Howard would say that's the best relationship we've ever had with the United States. So I think that a lot of what we're trying to do when we're encouraging things like the Australian-American-Japanese trilateral discussion on strategic issues is to say there's no reason why Japan and Australia could not have the same kind of close relationship with the United States that they have with us on an individual basis. So why don't we sit down and see where our common interests lie. And I think that's a good thing to do, because I think that the more that that could be done, the more people can talk to one another and use it as a forum to talk about Asia in general, so I think that's a very positive thing, and that was a very productive meeting that they had. They're going to continue it, I think, in January. I think you're going to have another visit down in Australia. So the more cooperation that Japan, Australia, and the United States can have, I think the better it is for everybody.