Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 3, 1999


The South Grounds

9:55 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Prime Minister Obuchi, Mrs. Obuchi, members of the Japanese delegation, my fellow Americans. Mr. Prime Minister, we welcome you to America and to the White House, and to greet you in the spring when the cherry blossoms every year remind us of the generosity and friendship of the Japanese people.

The cherry blossoms -- or in Japanese, sakura -- have made it through changing times, environmental challenges, and even most recently, the attention of our local population of beavers. (Laughter.) They have endured, as our friendship has endured, and will continue to endure forever.

For a half-century, our friendship has been a bedrock of security in Asia. It remains so. But now it is proving itself in the face of new challenges, as well -- from protecting the environment to fighting AIDS, to stopping the spread of deadly weapons. We are allies today because we share common values and a common vision of the future, rooted in democracy, human rights and political pluralism.

Mr. Prime Minister, you have been in office less than a year, but already you have taken important steps in meeting the challenges that face you and reaching the goals that unite us. Our nations are proud to reaffirm our partnership for the new century. We value our security relationship, what it does to build peace in northeast Asia, our common efforts in Indonesia, and Japan's consistent contributions to relief efforts so far from your shores -- from Central America to the Middle East and, now, to Kosovo.

The economic difficulties of recent years have been a challenge to many people in Japan and throughout Asia. But with the right choices, Japan, and Asia, will emerge stronger, more open, more democratic, better adapted to meet the 21st century.

In just a few years, we will mark the 150th anniversary of our relationship. The Japanese and the American people have come a great distance in that time together. We work together; our children study together; our Armed Forces have served together. We even share a national pastime. In fact, just last Saturday, at a time when American Major League baseball teams all across the country are competing for Japanese pitching talent, a new pitcher from across the Pacific threw out the first ball at Wrigley Field.

Mr. Prime Minister, you did a fine job. (Laughter.)

Mr. Prime Minister, the Japanese-American friendship is testament to the basic truth that with trust and understanding and genuine partnership, we can meet the challenges of the new century and give our children a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Obuchi, you honor us with our visit and, again, we welcome you to the United States. (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER OBUCHI: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, thank you very much. It is a great pleasure for my wife and me to officially visit the United States on your kind invitation. At this critical juncture, immediately prior to the new millennium, I am making the first official visit of a Japanese Prime Minister to the United States in 12 years.

More significant than this, however, is that the leaders of allies across the Pacific are meeting in this great Capital City, where the leaders of NATO, spanning across the Atlantic, gathered last week.

Japan took the first step toward modernization, awakened by the arrival of Commodore Perry's four black ships in 1853. There have been many twists and turns for the past 146 years since then. Today, owing to the dedication of our predecessors, Japan and the United States have built up an alliance that brings about great mutual benefit, and is invaluable for the peoples of the two countries.

Both Japan and the United States respect the universal values of freedom and democracy, and seek a policy objective of maximizing individual happiness. At the core of our relations, which share values and policy objectives, is the security alliance. This alliance is also the foundation of peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region.

Japan and the United States, as two nations with global responsibilities, have been working together on regional and global issues. Combining our strength and resources through intensive policy coordination, our partnership has made achievements in many fields around the world. Such a cooperative relationship, bound together by mutual trust and resulting in such success, is rare in the history of the world.

Japan and the United States are the two largest economies of the world. I am here to discuss with President Clinton the way the cooperation between Japan and the United States should be as we move toward the 21st century.

These days, Japan has been facing economic difficulties. Since assuming the office of Prime Minister, I have boldly implemented every kind of measure aimed at achieving Japan's economic recovery. Supported by the effect of these measures, our economy is showing an emerging sign of change for the better. At the same time, the nation's businesses and industries, which until last year suffered from an overhanging stagnant mood, have begun to demonstrate a forward-looking and positive outlook and attitude. I am determined to ensure a successful revitalization of the Japanese economy through overcoming, with unwavering resolve, any obstacle we may encounter in the process.

I would like to promote Japan-U.S. cooperation even further through my talk with President Clinton today, in order to achieve a more peaceful and more prosperous 21st century.

Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, thank you once again for your hospitality. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

[Footer icon]

[White House icon] [Help Desk icon]

To comment on this service,
send feedback to the Web Development Team.