Check against delivery
Speech to be given at the Woodrow Wilson School 75th Anniversary, Asian Event, Hotel Okura, Orchard Room, Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, April 7, 2006
By Taro Aso, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Dean Slaughter, Chairman Volcker,
Mr. Gyohten, Distinguished guests,
Friends, colleagues, and ladies and gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I extend my heartfelt welcome to you all.
My friend and colleague, Katsutoshi Kaneda, Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, insisted that I should speak at this historic event.
He was so persistent that I could not but nod my head.
I can tell that he, like all of you, has many fond memories of Princeton and the life he spent on that beautiful campus.
But initially, I accepted his request only with hesitance.
First off, I am NOT a Princetonian.
Furthermore, I am a reluctant dropout Stanfordian.
I emphasize, reluctant dropout.
One day when I was doing my graduate work at Stanford, my grandfather Shigeru Yoshida came to see me in San Francisco on his way to attend General MacArther's funeral.
I saw something was up when I realized my lousy Californian accent troubled him.
He was such an Anglophile.
Upon his return home he ordered his daughter Kazuko, my mother, to pull me out of Stanford at once.
At that time I was looking very much forward to getting my Master's degree.
She paid absolutely NO attention to that.
"The Aso Family could care less about a degree, whatsoever", she said, and immediately sent me anyway to the U.K. to acquire Queen's English.
Consequently, I chose London School of Economics instead of Oxbridge.
There, again, I picked up a cockney accent.
I now call this "LINGUISTIC CLEANSING".
This is why, today, you must put up with my unique accent.
On further reflection, however, I believe God may have called me to speak to you today.
I say so because one of your distinguished alumni gave an unforgettable gift to my family.
The late Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, was one of the "wise men" that Princeton, "IN THE NATION'S SERVICE", brought forth.
Shigeru Yoshida and through him, Japan as a whole, including my own family, still owe Secretary Dulles a great debt of gratitude.
"Dear Mr. Dulles", my grandfather wrote on February 15, 1952.
"This is to inform you that Mrs. Aso's portrait by Mrs. Reginald Anderson has just arrived. It is a beautiful painting of a large size, beautifully framed. I shall cherish it as a reminder of my days in London when my daughter was still a girl, and I myself not so old."
The lady cited here was living in London.
She was a distant relative of Mr. Dulles', and she knew that the portrait she had was of my mother, Kazuko Aso.
She requested that Mr. Dulles tell my grandfather about the oil painting, having heard that both men were in frequent contacts.
Remember, at that time Dulles as President Truman's special envoy, and Yoshida, as Japan's Prime Minister, were in the midst of negotiating the terms for the peace and security treaties.
Japan had no embassy anywhere at that time, so the painting was sent to Tokyo via what was then called the Japanese Overseas Agency in London.
Ever since, the painting has been with us in our home.
I have cited but one letter Yoshida sent to Dulles.
The letters, telegraphs and Christmas cards exchanged between the two statesmen are all archived at the Mudd Library of Princeton University.
In the collection you can also find a speech my grandfather delivered, at a ceremony he chaired on September 9, 1959, in Tokyo, in memory of his friend, John Foster Dulles, who had passed away earlier that year.
Yoshida chose the date himself because on that same day eight years before, both men were in San Francisco to sign the peace and security treaties.
I can recall how much of a sense of accomplishment he had signing those treaties.
In the speech, touching on how hard Mr. Dulles worked to draft the treaties, my grandfather said the following, and I quote:
"He first flew to London, and visited the Allied capitals in Europe.
He made a tour of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and other countries of Asia.
He went far down to Australia and New Zealand.
Finally he re-visited London.
He was in Tokyo three times.
...he had traveled by air one hundred and twenty-five thousand miles in one year before he succeeded in adjusting the views of the Allied governments and bringing about the San Francisco Peace Conference in September, 1951.
At that conference he took the platform several times, pleading fervently for the cause of just peace.
I can never forget the way he beat off eloquently and valiantly the counter proposals of the Soviet delegates on the terms of peace.
To Dulles our nation owes an eternal debt of gratitude."
"He was convinced that the Japanese-American relationship should be built on strength, and maintained in the spirit of conciliation and justice". My grandfather went on to conclude:
"By his arduous and tireless labors he laid the foundation for the postwar friendship and cooperation between Japan and the United States, which constitutes today the bulwark of peace and prosperity of the Far East", unquote.
In retrospect, I realize that there is little that can be added to what my grandfather said almost half a century ago.
So please join me once again to pay homage to your remarkable alumnus, who laid the foundation for the everlasting friendship between Japan and America.
And yet "present at the creation" was not only John Foster Dulles.
In the Class of 1925 was George Kennan, whose recommendations set the course for the more balanced US occupation policies towards Japan.
Later, followed by Paul Volcker, George Shultz and James Baker, and the list goes on, who worked equally hard for the betterment of Japan-US relations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As my grandfather said, yet as he could never have foretold, today in the 21st Century the strong alliance between Japan and the US still constitutes the bulwark of peace and prosperity in this part of the world.
The alliance forged in San Francisco has weathered through many critical periods.
I believe, it is now more resilient than ever.
Today, Japan and the US are bound ever more firmly by democracy and integrated market economies.
Already, the Japan-US Alliance has evolved into a new partnership that is quite unlike the one originally designed by Dulles, Kennan and Yoshida to deter communist expansion.
Together, we rejoice to see in Asia middle classes flourishing because as history shows, they provide fertile soils for democracy.
Also gone finally are the days when the US alone had to shoulder all the burdens in order for us in Asia to achieve peace and happiness through economic prosperity and democracy.
On the security front, in Afghanistan, in the Indian Ocean and in Iraq, we are together advancing peace and stability.
When the massive tsunami hit the shores of Southeast Asian nations shortly after Christmas in 2004, first among those who rushed to the rescue were Japan and the United States.
The road ahead will surely be no less tumultuous than in the past.
Those of us on both sides of the Pacific should never stop investing into the equity of the alliance, in the hope and expectation that in sixty years, our grandchildren will be still celebrating the foundation of the bilateral relationship laid down in 1952.
....the foundation that a remarkable Princetonian and an Anglophilic Japanese Prime Minister worked hard together to establish.
In conclusion, I will ask Dean Slaughter a small favor.
There is a book, still published and available in my grandmother's name, titled, Whispering Leaves in Grosvenor Square, 1936-37 by Yukiko Yoshida.
This is a fascinating account of their tranquil life in London a couple of years before the outbreak of the Second World War, when my grandfather was Japan's Ambassador to the Court of St. James's.
I am sure my grandparents would be very much pleased if you could add it to the wonderful collection of your libraries.
Thank you all very much.
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