photo (Foreign Minister Nakasone)

Message from Mr. Hirofumi Nakasone, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Celebrating the Arrival of USS GEORGE WASHINGTON

September 25, 2008, Yokosuka

Ambassador Schieffer,
Secretary Winter,
Mayor Kabaya,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Congratulations on the arrival of USS GEORGE WASHINGTON! Although I am not able to attend this ceremony today, I wish to deliver my welcoming message, representing the Government of Japan, feeling just as present as everyone here.

First, I would like to thank all the people, both Japanese and American, who have contributed to make the arrival of USS GEORGE WASHINGTON possible. In particular, Admiral Kelly, Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces, Japan, has worked hard to realize the smooth arrival. Also, this arrival would not have been possible without the cooperation from Mayor Kabaya and the City of Yokosuka. The Government of Japan will continue to make best efforts to gain understanding from the City of Yokosuka and the people of Japan.

A strong Japan-U.S. alliance is the linchpin of Japan's diplomacy. As you know, the security environment in East Asia remains harsh as illustrated by such problems as North Korea's nuclear issue. The Government of Japan welcomes wholeheartedly the forward deployment to the western Pacific of an aircraft carrier that bears the very name of a famous Founding Father of the U.S., symbolizing the firm commitment of the United States to the Alliance.

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON is the first nuclear propelled aircraft carrier to be forward deployed to the western Pacific. The Japanese people pay particular attention to the issues of nuclear safety. The United States Government has expressed its intention to continue to strictly honor all of its previous commitments regarding the safety of all U.S. nuclear vessels including USS GEORGE WASHINGTON. The Government of Japan will also continue to expend all possible efforts to assure their safety.

2010 will mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Japan- U.S. Security Treaty. The firm presence of U.S. Forces in this region under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is the very reason Japan has been able to enjoy peace and prosperity for the past half century. Even at this very moment, every service men and women of the U.S. Forces in Japan is working day and night, risking their lives for the security of Japan, as well as the peace and security of the region. I wish to express my deep respect towards their efforts.

I hope Commanding Officer John Haley and the crew of USS GEORGE WASHINGTON will learn the Japanese culture and customs, deepen friendship with the people of Yokosuka, and contribute to the good relationship between Japan and the U.S. as an "ambassador in uniform". I would like to close my remarks by expressing my wish that each crew of USS GEORGE WASHINGTON makes fond memories of Japan as a good neighbor and considers Yokosuka and Japan as their home away from home. Through this, the circle of Americans who understand my country will expand, and I am confident that it will become a great treasure for the alliance.
Thank you very much.

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