"Japan-U.S. Alliance in the 21st Century: Three Challenges"
by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
at the Council on Foreign Relations

New York City
September 10, 2002


1. Introduction

Distinguished guests,
I would like to thank the Council on Foreign Relations and the Jiji Press for giving me an opportunity to speak to this important group of people today.

Next year will be the 150th anniversary of Commodore Perry's arrival in Japan, which ended 250 years of Japanese seclusion. This marked the beginning of our formal relations.

Since then, our relationship has gone through a number of trials, including the Second World War. My home town of Yokosuka, where Commodore Perry landed, has the largest U.S. naval installation in Asia, and is in my electoral district. At times, some of Yokosuka's citizens have protested the presence of the base. I have consistently stressed to the Japanese people that our relationship with the United States is important to Japan's national interests and to those of the international community. Our two countries, which fought a war only half a century ago, have built an exemplary alliance, based on the Japan - U.S. Security Treaty. The alliance today is the cornerstone for the peace and prosperity of not only the Asia Pacific region but the entire world.

This coming Thursday, I will meet with President Bush. I have felt a strong affinity and trust with the President since we first met last year. I believe this friendship represents the larger relationship between our two countries. Japan-U.S. ties are now closer and deeper than ever in our history.

Today I would like to speak about three challenges that the Japan-U.S. alliance should tackle in the 21st century--

one, our security in the post 9.11 age;
two, our prosperity in the global age;
three, and more specifically, the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region itself.

The question is how Japan and the United States should cooperate to meet these challenges.

2. Terrorism, regional conflicts, weapons of mass destruction

Tomorrow I will attend a memorial ceremony in honor of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11th. I wish again to express my heartfelt sorrow over this terrible loss. After the attack, many Japanese schoolchildren, including those in Tokyo and Okinawa, sent thousands of origami cranes, symbolizing peace, to children in New York. All Japanese deeply hope that the families touched by the tragedy will someday find the pain in their hearts eased, and peace in their hearts restored. And I want to express my great admiration to the many courageous heroes of this tragedy-from the firemen and the policemen on the ground, to those brave passengers who fought the terrorists in the air.

September 11th destroyed families, and it destroyed our assumptions about how the world operated. It thrust before us basic issues of how to protect our values, our citizens and our civilized society. With the United States taking a leadership role, the international community united against the terrorist threat. Japan took unprecedented steps of support. We enacted legislation that allowed us to dispatch Japanese self-defense planes for airlift support and self-defense ships to refuel U.S. and U.K. vessels.

Japan and the United States took the initiative in convening the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan, which was held in Tokyo. The battlefield of Afghanistan must be turned into a nation. That is the daunting task we face.

In addition, efforts to prevent and resolve regional conflicts are very important. The United States has sought to promote the peace process in the Middle East. It has also sought to douse the tension between India and Pakistan. Japan is active in these same areas, assisting reform of the Palestinian Authority and working with both India and Pakistan to resolve their differences.

The international community must stand together to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's denial of inspection for such weapons is a great concern to the international community. The current fight against terrorism has made progress precisely because the international community responded with solidarity and cooperation. Japan firmly believes that such unity and collaboration should be preserved.

We must maintain a resolute attitude through repeated diplomatic efforts. Iraq must comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions. It should allow immediate and unconditional U.N. inspection, and it should dispose of any weapons of mass destruction. Japan will pursue efforts in this endeavor together with the United States.

3. World prosperity

Let me turn to the question of world prosperity. We are facing difficult challenges, such as growing economic disparity and environmental destruction. World population, which is around 6 billion today, is expected to be over 8 billion by 2030, and close to 10 billion by 2050. As the world's two major economic powers and donors of aid, the United States and Japan bear a special responsibility for the prosperity of the global community. To fulfill this responsibility, our economies must be on sound footing.

In the United States, unease spread through the stock markets as investors questioned the financial credibility of some U.S. corporations. But both government and business took measures to restore confidence.

The Japanese economy has considerable potential for growth. Some criticize the Koizumi Administration for its "tight" fiscal stance. Over the past 10 years, the Government of Japan has adopted a series of economic stimulus packages, mainly in the form of public works. As a result, Japan issues 30 trillion yen worth of government bonds every year when its annual tax revenue is only 50 trillion yen. This may be criticized by some as a free spending policy, but surely, this cannot be "austerity." Unless we carry out the necessary structural reforms, the revival of the economy will not happen. Since its inception, my administration has been doing all it can to pursue "structural reforms without sanctuary." We are also pursuing economic revitalization strategies, financial system reform including the disposal of non-performing loans, tax reform, and public expenditure reform. As to the question of non-performing loans, the Resolution and Collection Corporation (RCC) is actively tackling the disposition of those loans and the revitalization of companies, often in cooperation with Wall Street financial institutions. While the Japanese economy is still in a difficult situation, the results of reforms are steadily appearing, and some parts of the economy are beginning to show improvements.

Believing that what can be done by the private sector should be left in its hands, we have decided to abolish or privatize special public institutions. We are transferring postal services to a public corporation next April, and will prepare for its future privatization. These efforts for privatization, together with reform of the national investment and loan program and of the special public institutions, are aimed at the reform of the public sector of Japan. All together they shall lead to the reform of the entire economic system, including the reform of the fiscal structure and the revival of the private financial sector. We will promote deregulation in order to liberate the vitality of the private sector, and also take steps to improve Japan's foreign investment climate.

Determined that there will be no growth without reform, my administration will rapidly push forward structural reforms to seek a streamlined and efficient government and a revitalized private sector, in order to achieve sustained economic growth led by private sector demand.

The revival of Japan's economy, which accounts for 13 percent of the global economy, is itself the biggest contribution that Japan can make to the international community. And I believe that Japan, together with the United States, will play a leading role in promoting the prosperity of the global community.

4. Asia-Pacific region

Lastly, I would like to touch upon the Asia-Pacific region. When President Bush visited Japan in February and addressed the Diet, he called for strengthening U.S.-Japan cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. I completely agree. Our alliance must continue its role of ensuring regional stability. And we must strengthen our efforts to make the Asia-Pacific an open region in which people, goods, capital, and information can move freely.

Reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula is crucial for the stability of East Asia. As a responsible member of the international community, Japan will actively contribute to international efforts for this objective.

For more than half a century since the end of World War II, Japan has not had diplomatic ties with North Korea. The relationship between the two countries lacks normality. There remain unresolved issues, including those of security such as North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and missiles, and humanitarian issues such as its suspected abductions of Japanese nationals.

It is a historical responsibility of the Government of Japan to resolve these issues and normalize relations with North Korea . . . and to do so in a manner that contributes to the stability of the region. It is imperative that North Korea respond in a positive manner to the resolve the issues and promote dialogue with the parties concerned.

I have been advocating the importance of dialogue with the North and encouraging its engagement with the international community. Recently, North Korea has been showing positive attitudes toward dialogue with Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea. Although we need to carefully assess North Korea's intentions, I can see an opportunity to improve relations with North Korea.

For that, leaders must show political will. Thus, I have decided to visit North Korea, a first for a Japanese Prime Minister, and to meet with Secretary General Kim Jong Il. I will urge North Korea to respond in a sincere manner for the sake of reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula. I received strong personal support from both President Bush and President Kim Dae-Jung of the Republic of Korea, as well as from President Putin of Russia. The Government of China also expressed its support and welcome. I hope that my visit will be an important step toward the resolution of the issues and the easing of tension on the Peninsula.

In a speech I delivered in Singapore earlier this year, I advocated the creation of a "community that acts together and advances together." We should achieve this through expanding East Asia cooperation based upon the Japan - ASEAN relationship. This community will include close partnerships with those outside the immediate region, contributing to the interests of a wider region. Japan signed its first economic partnership agreement with Singapore in January. With this agreement as a good example, Japan and ASEAN countries are now working to strengthen economic partnerships in a wide range of areas under "The Initiative for Japan-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Partnership." We are also stepping up our work for an economic partnership agreement with the Republic of Korea and moving ahead with Mexico. These various attempts at economic partnership will open up cross-border business opportunities and contribute to the prosperity of the entire Asia-Pacific region.

China, as you know, is increasing its presence in the region both politically and economically. Some see the economic development of China as a threat. I do not. Its dynamic economic development presents new challenges as well as economic opportunities for the world. China today is wrestling with issues of reform and openness. As shown by its accession to the WTO, China will be playing a larger role in the international community. All this amounts to enormous challenges for China itself. We need to encourage and support China's efforts, so that it becomes a constructive member of the community.

5. Conclusion

In closing, Japan-U.S. ties are now better and closer than ever. Mutual understanding between our people is deepening. Who could have imagined 50 years ago that an American would become a grand champion in Japan's national sport of sumo wrestling? Who could have imagined that a Japanese would become a leading hitter in America's major league baseball?

We must always remember that this excellent relationship was built and sustained by many American and Japanese individuals. I would like to refer to one American by the name of Mr. Faubion Bowers, who had a profound understanding of Japanese culture. Soon after the Second World War, the occupation army banned many performances of Kabuki, a form of Japanese traditional theater, because those pieces were deemed feudalistic and undemocratic. Mr. Bowers, who was an aide-de-camp to General MacArthur, opposed this policy on the ground Kabuki is an art rooted in Japanese culture. He eventually succeeded in lifting the ban. This individual feat symbolizes the open-mindedness and flexibility of American people to recognize cultural diversity and to understand and accept different cultures. Many Japanese are grateful to Mr. Bowers. I am one of them because I am a great fan of Kabuki.

Friendship and trust between individuals are the foundations of relations between our two countries. We need to raise the next generation of individuals who will bear the future of our relationship. More than anything, people-to-people exchanges, including at the grassroots level, are vital. There are, for example, so many young Americans living in Japan today, including 2,700 of those teaching English in the regions under the Japan Exchange and Teaching program. There are many Japanese students and young people who have come to the United States. Those American and Japanese youth who are freely crisscrossing the Pacific are deepening the foundation of Japan-U.S. relations.

Ladies and gentlemen, from the days of Commodore Perry, we have come a long way overcoming many difficulties, and have built this strong bond of friendship. Let us continue to advance together, for our two countries, and for the entire world.

Thank you for your hospitality and thank you for your kind attention.

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