For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
April 13, 2004
Remarks by the Vice President at the Washington Post-Yomiuri Shimbun Symposium
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
Q 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
Q 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
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Next one is from Japanese
Q 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
Q How does the U.S. and Japanese governments consider the
possibility, importance, and/or necessity of the FTA between the U.S.
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
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
Q 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.)
END 11:05 A.M. (Local)