The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
April 13, 2004

Remarks by the Vice President at the Washington Post-Yomiuri Shimbun Symposium
Hotel Okura
Tokyo, Japan

10:25 A.M. (Local)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning -- introduction was worth the trip all by itself. I appreciate very much your kinds remarks.

I'm delighted to be here today. I've had the privilege of visiting Japan a good many times over the last 30 years, and it's good to be back again. And I want to thank the many distinguished guests joining us this morning, in particular former Prime Minister Nakasone.

Over the years the United States has sent some of our most respected public servants to our U.S. embassy in Japan. And in the case of my old friends Ambassador and Mrs. Howard Baker, we are represented by two former senators who are held in the highest regard by President Bush and the American people.

This morning, my wife and I visited the Imperial Palace and had the honor of meeting their Imperial Highnesses, the Emperor and Empress. I'm grateful to them, as well as to Prime Minister Koizumi and the government who have so warmly welcomed our delegation to Japan.

To the entire nation of Japan I bring good wishes and prayers of President George W. Bush and the people of the United States.

Lynne and I are honored to be here to mark the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Amity between Japan and the United States. The signing of that document was a momentous event in the history of both our countries. It signaled the end of Japan's long isolation as a feudal society, and set the stage for the Meiji Restoration and for this country's transformation into a modern industrial nation. It also marked the emergence of the United States as a Pacific power. Our treaty stated the goal of a perfect, permanent and universal peace and a sincere and cordial amity. Today the profound friendship between our nations is one of the great achievements of modern history. After the Second World War, Japan experienced what some historians have called a second restoration. The enormous resilience, energy, and creativity of the Japanese people helps to raise this country to greater heights than ever before, and made it into one of the world's most prosperous and advanced societies.

Japan enters the 21st century as the second wealthiest nation on the planet and a leader in science, technology, and innovation. Your example helped spark an economic miracle that has transformed this region, yet Japan did more than merely grow prosperous. You also transformed your country into one of the world's most stable, decent and successful democracies. In this way, too, as a beacon of freedom, Japan now serves as an inspiration for others in this region and beyond.

The late Ambassador Mike Mansfield used to say that the U.S.-Japan alliance was, and I quote, "the most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none." That statement is as true today as it was three decades ago. We're both Pacific powers. In this region and beyond, we see eye-to-eye and are working together to achieve common goals. Indeed, our peoples are closer now, and our alliance more important than ever before. We are drawn together not only by converging strategic and economic interests, but, above all, by our shared values. It is those values, our belief in constitutional democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of individual liberties that form the unshakable foundation of our alliance and provide the basis of our shared vision of the future.

The Asia-Pacific region is crucial to the world today, and will only be more important to the world of tomorrow. The dynamic changes in Asia helped shape the last half century, and are key to the century to come. As President Bush said in this city two years ago, our countries share a vision for the future of the Asia-Pacific region as a fellowship of free Pacific nations.

We seek a peaceful region where no power, or coalition of powers endangers the security and freedom of other nations, and where force and threats are not used to resolve political disputes. We seek a region where the spread of missiles and weapons of mass destruction does not threaten humanity, and where terrorism does not endanger innocent lives. We seek a region with strong institutions of economic and political cooperation, like the forum for Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation, a region that is open to trade and investment on a global scale, where people and capital and ideas flow easily, breaking down barriers and creating bonds of progress and freedom. America and Japan together are united by this vision. Many others share it, as well.

Asia-Pacific nations from South Korea, to the Philippines, to Australia, know that the region's strength and influence depend on the continuing advance of openness and democracy. Prosperity alone will neither keep us safe, nor satisfy the highest aspirations of our people. Together, we support the spread of freedom throughout this region. Extremism, intolerance and repression were not the answer in the past. They are not the answer for our common future.

Today, our alliance is far more than a bilateral security pact. It is a global partnership dedicated to promoting our common vision, solving problems, and meeting challenges wherever they may arise. The last several years have been a time of testing for both or nations, and have shown the great strength, effectiveness and scope of our alliance. Both our countries have experienced the grief and the devastation left by sudden random attacks against innocent civilians. We know the methods of terrorism, and we understand what is at stake in the fight against global terror. The world shares your outrage today at the barbaric kidnapping of three Japanese citizens in Iraq, and stands with you in your determination to bring your people home safely. As Prime Minister Koizumi said, we must not yield to terrorists' foul threats.

The terrorists who struck my country on 9/11 took some 3,000 lives -- among them, men and women from many nations, including 24 citizens of Japan. Terrorists have struck from the heart of Europe to the South Pacific -- in Madrid, Istanbul, Bali, Jakarta. And they have ambitions that affect the interests of every civilized nation in the region. They seek to control all of the Middle East, and to influence the policies of America, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and many nations through violence, intimidation, and blackmail. They seek ever greater destructive power and would, if they could, inflict mass murder with the world's most lethal weapons.

Japan, under the courageous leadership of Prime Minister Koizumi has faced this danger squarely. Today, I acknowledge with gratitude Japan's leading role in combating terror and in helping to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Your country is using every instrument of its national power -- diplomatic, economic, and military -- to defeat the threat to our shared civilization.

Let me highlight just a few examples of Japan's commitment and sacrifice. Over two years ago, Japan's Maritime Self Defense Forces launched unprecedented deployments to the Indian Ocean to support the U.S. and coalition forces to removing the Taliban regime and eliminating the safe haven where terrorists once plotted and trained in Afghanistan.

Those deployments continue, and they are still critically important. Since the fall of the Taliban, Japan has provided significant financial assistance in rebuilding Afghanistan, and has taken a leading role in encouraging the development of a stable, democratic regime.

Japan has joined an international campaign to locate and seize the financial assets on which terrorists depend, and it has used its expertise to help others across Asia block terrorist finances, improve aviation security, and reduce the risk of terror attack. The Japanese people have been exceptionally generous in their contribution to the cause of a free Iraq. Together, the United States and Japan are the two biggest financial contributors to reconstruction effort. SDF forces are now in the city of Samawah, providing clean water and medical assistance to the citizens of Iraq. Japan has also sent able diplomats to work with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. These deployments have involved risk and sacrifice.

Recently, in Washington, President Bush paid tribute to Katsuhiko Oku, a devoted public servant assigned to Iraq, who was killed in a terror attack in Baghdad. Mr. Oku kept a diary, and one entry records his sense of duty and pride in the mission he was given. As he wrote, quote, "the free people of Iraq are now making steady progress in reconstructing their country while also fighting against the threat of terrorism. We must join hands with the Iraqi people in their effort to prevent Iraq from falling into the hands of terrorists. This is also our fight to defend our freedom."

Mr. Oku served with distinction in Iraq and America joins you in honoring his memory. Like others who have fallen in Iraq, he knew why he was there. And all of the brave people our coalition has sent to Iraq understand that they are serving in freedom's cause. The nations in our coalition are committed to seeing this great work through. Twenty-one years ago, President Ronald Reagan addressed the Diet and recalled the wisdom of an old Japanese proverb, a single arrow is easily broken, but not three in a bunch. The unity of America, Japan, and like-minded nations saw us through the dark days of the Cold War. And with that same unity, we will overcome the trials of today.

Having removed a dictator who brutalized his people and threatened his neighbors, we will persevere because we believe in the right of people to determine their own future. We believe in the capacity of Iraqis, Afghans, and others in the Middle East to succeed under just and democratic governments. And the rise of democracy in Iraq will be an essential victory in the war on terror and in the cause of freedom.

The United States and Japan are also partners in the critical work of preventing the further spread of missiles and weapons of mass destruction. In this, there can be no room for failure. Our countries are determined, we will do all in our power to prevent the spread of the ultimate weapons. We refuse to live at the mercy of terrorists, or of regimes that might arm them. Joined by many other nations from Australia, to Italy, to Great Britain, we are coordinating actions to halt shipments of dangerous technologies by air, land, and sea.

In addition to its work as a founding member of the Proliferation Security Initiative, Japan is taking the lead in working with other Asian nations to strengthen export controls and to promote the goals of nonproliferation and disarmament. And in your neighborhood, Japan has been firm in insisting that North Korea completely, verifiably, and irreversibly dismantle all of its nuclear capabilities. As a leader in the six-party talks, Japan's voice has been loud and clear that we expect this process other produce real security for the people of the region. We also share your outrage and join with you in demanding resolution of all the issues surrounding the criminal abduction of your citizens by the regime in Pyongyang.

All of these endeavors are vital to the security of both our peoples, and to the protection of the values we share. Yet we know that in the long-term our ultimate security will not be gained only by confronting dangers or attempting to contain enemies. We must address the conditions that stir anger and resentment and give rise to ideologies of hatred and aggression. That is why in recent years Japan has stepped up its efforts to preserve and consolidate peace in places once torn by war and civil strife.

Your government has dispatched peacekeeping forces to East Timor, as well as to Iraq, and is using its diplomat skills to try to bring peace to Sri Lanka. Despite tough times and tight budgets, Japan has contributed generously to efforts to combat poverty, stimulate productivity, and promote development across Asia and throughout the world. Your country has played a major role in the worldwide fight against the infectious diseases that blight lives, sap initiative and sow despair, including tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS.

Across the globe, Japan is rightly seen as a nation that labored under great adversity to achieve its own success and now is helping other nations to achieve their own.

Beyond all this, our countries are bound by something even more important, a love of freedom, which we know is the key to peace and prosperity. And we know, too, that the desire for freedom and the capacity to exercise it responsibly is universal.

Every age has its skeptics, and some today are suggesting that democracy can never take root in the heart of the Middle East, that certain societies and cultures are not suited to self-government, and certain people are not ready to live in freedom. Not so long ago, similar things were said of Japan, and, indeed, much of Asia. But your people and the people of this region have proven the skeptics wrong. When given the chance, men and women will chose liberty over tyranny; democracy over dictatorship; and institutions of law and justice over the cruel oppression that millions still endure today.

And so from the greater Middle East, to Africa, to the Pacific, America and Japan do not merely stand against rising threats and hostile powers. We stand for the decent values that have brought our own peoples together in peace; the humane values that bring hope and dignity to every life, the values of freedom, equality, and justice that are the right and the future of every nation.

Japan in 2004, under Prime Minister Koizumi's leadership is entering a new era of growth, dynamism, rising confidence, and global influence. After a period of economic difficulty, you've chosen a path of reform and revitalization that is beginning to show results. A pro-growth strategy in Japan, along with freer trade and investment practices throughout the region will benefit your own people and add momentum to the prosperity of many of your neighbors.

On its present course, Japan is gaining strength and shaping for itself a new and more active role in promoting stability, prosperity and democracy throughout the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The United States welcomes this wider role for a nation we count as an indispensable partner.

I leave your country today with a renewed respect for all that the people of Japan have achieved and with renewed confidence in all that we will yet achieve together. America is fortunate and proud to call you ally. Again, I thank you for the warm welcome and your kind attention this morning. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President, for the wonderful and very powerful speech. Thank you very much.

I understand we have some 20 minutes for the Q&A session. I will read the questions which have been collected before your arrival from the audience. And the first question is from the Yomiuri Shimbun, the sponsor of this program, and second question is from The Washington Post, the co-sponsor of this program. (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not surprised. MODERATOR: And after that, to the audience questions. So, first question, while the Cold War structure still remains in East Asia, China's economic rise is potentially causing the tension of the region. What role should the U.S. and Japan play in the next few decades?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think the United States and Japan's security relationship, obviously, is a very important one and will continue, I think, to be, I think, a force for stability and security throughout this part of the world. I think it's important to recognize that our alliance is not directed at any other country, that our forward U.S. presence in the Western Pacific has been, for the last 50 years and will continue to be in the future, a major force for security that has been welcomed by most of the nations in the region. And I think the extent of our cooperation will only grow deeper and more important in the years ahead. MODERATOR: Thank you very much. The next question is from The Washington Post. Some have said that Japan is moving away from its era of pacifism. What is your view of this departure, and what would you say to Japan's neighbors who may be uneasy with Tokyo's new role?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think first and foremost, it's always important to recognize that Japan has to decide and will decide what role they want to play in the world and how they want to play it. It's not for others of us to make those judgments and determinations. It's clearly a decision to be made by the Japanese. I think there's no question but what over time I've experienced in my own career a Japan that has been willing to take on increasing responsibilities in the international community.

I'm reminded, for example, of the time of the Gulf crisis in 1990 and '91, that Japan stepped forward and provided very significant materiel support for the international coalition. While they did not deploy forces in connection with our efforts in Kuwait at the time, towards the end of the conflict, Japan sent mine sweepers that were very important in dealing with a special problem that existed in the Persian Gulf, and as I say, provided very significant materiel support to the build-up to the coalition forces.

Come forward to today and look at the situation in Iraq, the willingness of Japan to deploy peacekeepers into Iraq to participate in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of that country I see as another step forward, but a very positive development, one that we certainly welcome.

Over the years, Japan has taken on an increasingly larger part of the burden of self-defense, and of course, worked very closely with the United States in that regard. And I think that's been altogether fitting and appropriate. And given the size of Japan's economy and very influence in the world, I think we should welcome these kinds of developments. And I'm not aware that any other nation has been especially critical or concerned about them. I think the authority that Japan has developed and the influence that she wields in the world is welcomed by very nearly everybody in the community of nations. MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Next one is from the Japanese audience.


Next question concerns the Iraqi reconstruction and the role of the U.N. and it's posed by the chairman of the U.S.-Japan Society.

It appears that cooperation of many as countries as possible is required for governing Iraq after the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis at the end of June. I would appreciate if you would comment on how, in what ways the United States intends to enlist the United Nations and others in this effort in the future?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I would emphasize that the most important development after June 30th in terms of decisions about Iraq are to be made by the people of Iraq. The notion is that at that point, we will begin to transfer sovereign authority to a new interim government in Iraq, that the Iraqi people themselves will take on the responsibility of making most of the day-to-day decisions about Iraq. The United States will continue to play a major role there from the standpoint of our security forces, but the actions and activity of what we've described in the past as the Coalition Provisional Authority will be transferred, in part, to the new interim government on that date.

The role of the United Nations has been significant in that process. We've worked closely with Mr. Brahimi, the representative of the Secretary General, who's been in the region traveling and working with our personnel, and whose advice and counsel we take very seriously. And he will make suggestions here in the near future about what the U.N. wants to recommend with respect to the structure and organization of that interim government. We expect, as well, that the United Nations will be a significant participant in providing technical expertise to the Iraqi government going forward in terms of setting up an electoral process, and doing all of those things that need to be done, leading up to a nationwide constitutional convention, and eventual national elections to select a permanent government for Iraq in the future. So the role of the U.N. is welcomed by the United States. We're eager to have them play a role, and I would argue that they, in fact, are doing so. MODERATOR: Thank you very much. The next one is also from the Japanese audience.


This question concerns Iraqi hostage and North Korea abduction issues. How is the U.S. going to deal with and cooperate with Japan, the issue of civilians taken, and hostage in Iraq and North Korea -- most recently the abduction of the three Japanese?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: We have made it clear to our Japanese friends, and I had conversations yesterday with the Prime Minister and with other members of the government that we want to do whatever we can to be of assistance in trying to acquire the release and safe return of those Japanese taken hostage in Iraq. We think that the position of the Prime Minister has been the correct one. That is to say that it's important that our governments not be intimidated by threats or violence or resort to this kind of action, and that we not allow terrorists to change or influence the policies of our governments by virtue of these kinds of acts. And we've wholeheartedly supported the position Prime Minister Koizumi has taken in that regard.

As I say, we stand ready to work with the government of Japan in any way we can to be of assistance. I don't think I should go into any more detail than that. We are hopeful that the hostages can be returned as quickly as possible in good shape. MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Next one is from the American audience. Was the question of importing U.S. beef raised in your discussion with Prime Minister Koizumi?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: We did talk about beef with officials of the Japanese government. It is an important issue from the standpoint of the United States. For U.S. producers, the Japanese market is a very important one. I'm pleased to announce the Japanese government has invited U.S. experts for consultations next week. We hope these consultations will lead to reopening of the market to U.S. beef in the near future. MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Next one is from Japanese audience.


This question concerns the U.S. bases in Japan. I believe it is absolutely necessary for continuing the strong U.S.-Japan alliance to separate, isolate the U.S. bases from the heavily populated areas they are currently in. Why is it that the U.S. and Japanese governments equally avoid facing this clear and obvious issue?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I served as the U.S. Secretary of Defense some years ago and have a very high regard for the very close cooperation that has existed between the U.S. and Japan, and for the willingness of our Japanese allies to host U.S. forces on Japanese soil over the years. It's been a vital part of the alliance, I think, in terms of preserving peace and stability in this part of the world.

We recognize that the presence of U.S. forces can in some cases present a burden on the local community. We're not insensitive to that. We work almost on a continual basis with the local officials to remove points of friction and reduce the extent to which problems arise in terms of those relationships. I think, generally, the record with respect to the U.S. and Japan and our forces here has been a very good one now for more than 50 years. It's been a remarkable partnership, and we want to do everything we can to keep it viewed in those terms.

We are currently involved in thinking about what our force posture ought to be on a worldwide basis, not just with respect to the Pacific and Japan, but forces in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. And it's conceivable as part of that some adjustments will be made in the posture of U.S. forces in the years ahead. And certainly, as we go through that process, we'll want to take into account the need to be sensitive to the concerns of local folks, and to remove as much as possible sources of friction there. But I think the fact of U.S. forward deployments, our commitment to the security of Japan, our very strong alliance relationship now that's been so important to both nations for 50 years will in no way be diminished by these activities. It's simply a matter of modernizing and upgrading our military posture and keeping with the threats and the needs that we face out there today. As I say, at the same time, we'll do our best to minimize any negative impacts that might have on the local communities. MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Next one is on the FTA from the Japanese audience.


How does the U.S. and Japanese governments consider the possibility, importance, and/or necessity of the FTA between the U.S. and Japan?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Talking about a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Japan, I take it? The trading relationship, obviously, between our two nations is extraordinarily important. From an economic standpoint, in the world's economy, if you look at the gross domestic product produced by the U.S. and Japan, it overwhelms virtually any other piece of economic business anyplace in the world. I think our trading relationship is very good. We've made major progress over the years at reducing barriers to free and open trade, and we certainly support that.

Whether or not that should move us in the direction of a free trade agreement as an immediate next step, or whether that ought to be viewed as an objective that we'd like to achieve long-term and hold out as something that we might want to over a period of years, I think, needs to be considered.

We, of course, are actively involved, have been actively involved, as I know Japan has, as well, in the Doha round of the WTO. We think we need to continue to work in that forum to make progress. That's the agenda that's most immediately in front of us. But we're always open to suggestions about other ways that we can enhance the prospects of trade and the free movement of commerce, people and capital back and forth across our borders. MODERATOR: Thank you very much. This one is from American audience. What is your view of Japan's Self Defense Forces and their alliance with the United States in Iraq?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Our view of the Self Defense Forces in Iraq is, I think, as I mentioned, a very positive one. We think it's a very significant contribution. Japan has, in terms of the commitment to resources, financial resources, been second only to the United States in what's been offered with respect to Iraq and trying to achieve our objectives there. And we're deeply appreciative of that. And as I mentioned earlier, the fact that Japan has been willing to send Self Defense Forces to participate in the humanitarian mission in Iraq is a significant development, and one that we welcome. We're proud to serve alongside our Japanese friends. MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Maybe this is the last question for you.


This question concerns Iraqi governing. In order to show the definite will of the United States, some suggestions, notably by The Wall Street Journal itself are made to replace the civilian administrator, Ambassador Bremer, with some more tougher people, such as Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary, or Giuliani, former New York mayor. What do you think about that? (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I know Mr. Bremer, and I know Mr. Wolfowitz. And they're both tough individuals. I think Ambassador Bremer has done a superb job under very difficult circumstances, and we've been very thankful for his service and his willingness to take on this assignment. We're now in the posture -- the United States is, as a government, whereas the authority of the CPA -- or the Coalition Provisional Authority that Mr. Bremer has been responsible for transfers over to the Iraqi interim government, he will be replaced in Iraq by a new U.S. ambassador to Iraq. And it will be a major posting. We're in the process of selecting the individual to take on that job and that responsibility. And I would expect an announcement in the near future.

But Mr. Wolfowitz, who once worked for me, and man for whom I have the highest regard, is heavily occupied at this point as the deputy secretary of defense, the number two man in our defense establishment. And my guess is we probably could not persuade Secretary Rumsfeld, his boss, to part with him at this particular time. But I'm sure he'll be glad to have the endorsement of The Wall Street Journal. (Laughter.)

Thank you. END 11:05 A.M. (Local)

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