Secretary Clinton Speaks at Dinner for Prime Minister Noda

Washington, D.C.
April 30, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: I want to thank the National Geographic Museum for hosting us this evening as we welcome Prime Minister Noda for his first official visit to Washington. I also want to acknowledge the legendary violinist Midori, who will be playing for us tonight, and our guest chef Bryan Voltaggio. Thank you both very much.

We are here tonight to celebrate the friendship between the United States and Japan. This is a bond between us that promotes security, stability, and prosperity not only in the Asia Pacific but around the world. Our countries are standing side by side to meet the most important challenges of our time.

Japan remains an essential world leader, even in the face of the unspeakable tragedies that it suffered. Americans are inspired by the bravery and resilience of the Japanese people.

In addition to the partnership between our two governments, what is most important about our relationship are the ties between our two peoples. Many of you here tonight have played an important role in strengthening the bonds that our countries share. But we want to be sure that it is not just a relationship of the present and the past, but also one of the future.

That's why we are working to create opportunities for the young people in both of our countries. Our shared goal is to promote a tomodachi or friendship generation of young people who will be our future leaders. That's why we have created a private-public partnership, the TOMODACHI Initiative, to bring young people from both countries together. We are looking forward to receiving hundreds of young Japanese students and sending hundreds of young American students, through student exchanges, sports programs, and entrepreneurial programs.

There is no better symbol of our enduring friendship than the cherry blossoms that have been announcing the arrival of springtime in Washington for 100 years. One hundred years ago, the United States received 3,000 cherry trees as a gift of friendship from the Japanese people. Tonight, I am pleased to announce a gift of 3,000 dogwood trees for the people of Japan from the American people. (Applause.) Prime Minister, this gift is commemorated by the plaque behind us, and we hope that these dogwood trees in Japan will, like the cherry trees here, serve as a symbol of the strong relationship and friendship between our countries.

And so, Prime Minister, I would like to offer a toast to the Japanese and American people, to our enduring friendship and partnership, and to a future we build together of peace and prosperity for ourselves and the world. (Applause.)