For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 29, 2006
President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Exchange Toasts
State Dining Room
Visit by Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi
8:05 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Prime Minister and distinguished guests, Laura and I thank you for joining us tonight and we welcome you to the White House. This room has hosted many honored guests and tonight it also hosts a treasured friend.
Mr. Prime Minister, our strong friendship has grown out of the strong alliance between our two nations. Japan and America share a common belief in the power of freedom to bring hope to millions who have not known it. And we share a common commitment to meet the challenges of our time and lay the foundations of peace for generations to come.
In our meetings today you have once again demonstrated the qualities of character that both the Japanese people and the American people admire. You have an optimistic view of the world, you welcome hard work and big challenges and you are determined that your great nation will continue to make a positive contribution to our world.
Mr. Prime Minister, more than 25 years ago the White House welcomed another distinguished visitor who shared much in common with you. Like you, he had great hair. (Laughter.) Like you, he was known to sing in public. (Laughter.) And like you, he won admirers in countries far from home. That man was Elvis. (Laughter.) And Laura and I are looking forward to joining you tomorrow in our visit to his home in Memphis.
But tonight, Mr. Prime Minister, it's my honor to offer a toast to you and to our friends and allies, the people of Japan.
(A toast was offered.)
PRIME MINISTER KOIZUMI: Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, distinguished guests. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for hosting such a wonderful dinner tonight.
Actually, I believe -- I'm sorry, I made a mistake. Mr. President, it was exactly five years ago, June 30, 2001, when I first met with you. After our talks, the President and I played catch in the woods of Camp David. Since then, based our heartfelt friendship, we have nurtured this vital bilateral relationship and have joined together as close allies to talk about a diverse set of challenges. Actually, I believe it was thanks to that game of catch with the President, I was able to feel confident when I stood on the pitcher's mound and threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium in September 2004. (Laughter and applause.) USA Today reported that it was -- and I quote -- "A near perfect strike." (Laughter.)
The President often mentions in public that Japan and the United States went from being enemies during World War II to become the closest of allies and leading members of the community of free and democratic nations. In the new year of 1946, only several months after the end of war, then-Emperor Showa composed a Japanese traditional poem, which reads: "Courageous pine, and during the snow that is piling up, color unchanging, little people be like this." I can imagine the emperor gazing at the pine tree in his palace and reading out this poem at a time when our land was a (inaudible) and our people were depressed by Japan's defeat. "The snow is heavily piling up, and almost all the tree's leaves are either gone or have changed colors. However, this pine stands firm, without losing its needles or changing its color." I think the emperor wished our people to be like the pine when he wrote this poem for encouraging the people in the most difficult of times.
Since then, the people of Japan are striving to fulfill this poem's spirit by hard work and the discipline. At the same time, Japan will never forget that it was also the generous support provided by the United States after the war that contributed heavily to Japan's remarkable post-war development. During the war, people in Japan were taught to fear and hate the Americans, as if they were monsters. But the Americans were right in front of us -- in fact, came with warm and generous hearts. The Japanese people are still impressed with, they are grateful for the generosity of the United States and the American people.
In March 1865, just before the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln spoke to his audience in his second inaugural address. "With malice toward none, with charity for all ... let us strive on ... to bind up the nation's wounds ... to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." I believe it was this American spirit that lifted the hearts of Japan's people, made Japan's reconstruction possible and built a foundation for the solid friendship between our two nations.
It is such an impressive thing that our two nations, who once fought against each other now share common values and together, as close friends and allies, are tackling of a wide variety of challenges around the world.
Nine-eleven was an attack not solely against your country; it was a challenge against all of us, the entire human race and all those who respect human dignity and freedom. Terrorism and the proliferation of WMDs threaten the basic fundamentals of our lives. I would like to pay my sincerest respect to President Bush, who has been so steadfast and determined in protecting freedom and democracy.
I sometimes see the image of the United States as Gary Cooper in my favorite movie, "High Noon." (Laughter.) Marshal Cooper stood up alone with courage and justice against four outlaw men. However, there is one huge difference between that Marshal and the United States: The United States is not alone when facing the evils that exist today. The United States is always with its eyes on friends, and Japan stands by the United States of America. (Applause.)
The President and I both recognize the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance as we, at the same time, cooperate with many other nations around the world, as well as with the United Nations. Japan is determined to further develop this cooperation with the United States on a wide variety of issues, ranging from the fight against terrorism to democratization, the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq, to alleviation of poverty, to natural disaster itself -- disaster relief.
Tomorrow the President and Mrs. Bush and I are going to visit Memphis, Tennessee, home to Elvis Presley. When I was young, my exposure to America was Presley -- which is a vivid memory of my youth. The first English song I ever learned by heart was Presley's "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You." (Laughter.)
Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to propose a toast to the further enhancement of Japan-U.S. relations. In the words of Elvis, "I want you, I need you, I love you." As those lyrics suggest, I hope that our two nations, sharing fundamental values and interests will continue to be essential to each other, will cooperate for world peace and prosperity, and will further enrich our bilateral relationship.
(A toast was offered.) (Applause.)
END 8:20 P.M. EDT