Ambassador Roos Speaks at Ceremony Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Reversion of Okinawa

May 15, 2012

Mr. Prime Minister, Governor Nakaima, distinguished guests, and to all the people of Okinawa:

I am truly honored to be here with you today. I was in high school on that historic day in 1972, but never would have dreamed that one day I would have the privilege and responsibility of standing here as the representative of the President of the United States, to mark one of the most significant milestones in the history of the U.S.-Japan Alliance.

Okinawa is without question the cornerstone of that Alliance and its mission to defend Japan and promote peace and prosperity in this region - and that has been the case now for generations. Given historic changes in the strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region, that mission is more important today than ever, and the alliance between the United States and Japan has never been stronger. As it has been in our past, our Alliance continues to be indispensable to our future, and we, as Americans, recognize the sacrifices the people of Okinawa have made to keep this critical Alliance strong.

But the strength of our partnership goes much deeper than our security alliance.

It is the sharing of culture and enriching of our young people's lives that we see in the educational exchanges facilitated by scholarships like the Fulbright and the Obuchi Okinawa Education Research Program.

It is the solving of global problems as exemplified by the Okinawa-Hawaii Renewable Energy partnership.

It is the exchange of knowledge and the creation of new breakthroughs as represented by the important work being done at the new Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology.

It is the sharing of identity as reflected in the vibrancy of the Okinawa-American community.

And it is simply the gathering here in this room as close friends, 40 years after the reversion, that proves our enduring commitment to each other. As Prime Minister Noda and President Obama observed during their recent summit in Washington, the greatest strength of the U.S.-Japan partnership is found in the close personal bonds between our two nations. Nowhere are these bonds stronger than here in Okinawa.

So on this special anniversary, let us not only reflect back with pride but pledge that the close connections forged by the peoples of Okinawa and the United States over the past decades will continue to be one of the greatest sources of our Alliance and the underlying strength of our two nations.

Thank you very much.