Remarks by President Clinton and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi of Japan at Arrival Ceremony

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. PrimeMinister, we welcome you to America and to the White House, and togreet you in the spring when the cherry blossoms every year remind usof the generosity and friendship of the Japanese people.

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

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

Mr. Prime Minister, you have been in office less than ayear, but already you have taken important steps in meeting thechallenges that face you and reaching the goals that unite us. Ournations are proud to reaffirm our partnership for the new century.We value our security relationship, what it does to build peace innortheast Asia, our common efforts in Indonesia, and Japan'sconsistent 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 achallenge to many people in Japan and throughout Asia. But with theright choices, Japan, and Asia, will emerge stronger, more open, moredemocratic, better adapted to meet the 21st century.

In just a few years, we will mark the 150th anniversaryof our relationship. The Japanese and the American people have comea great distance in that time together. We work together; ourchildren study together; our Armed Forces have served together. Weeven share a national pastime. In fact, just last Saturday, at atime when American Major League baseball teams all across the countryare competing for Japanese pitching talent, a new pitcher from acrossthe 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 istestament to the basic truth that with trust and understandingand genuine partnership, we can meet the challenges of the newcentury and give our children a more peaceful and prosperousfuture.

Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Obuchi, you honor us with ourvisit 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 meto officially visit the United States on your kind invitation.At this critical juncture, immediately prior to the newmillennium, I am making the first official visit of a JapanesePrime Minister to the United States in 12 years.

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

Japan took the first step toward modernization,awakened by the arrival of Commodore Perry's four black ships in1853. There have been many twists and turns for the past 146years since then. Today, owing to the dedication of ourpredecessors, Japan and the United States have built up analliance that brings about great mutual benefit, and isinvaluable for the peoples of the two countries.

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

Japan and the United States, as two nations with globalresponsibilities, have been working together on regional andglobal issues. Combining our strength and resources throughintensive policy coordination, our partnership has madeachievements in many fields around the world. Such a cooperativerelationship, bound together by mutual trust and resulting insuch success, is rare in the history of the world.

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

These days, Japan has been facing economicdifficulties. Since assuming the office of Prime Minister, Ihave boldly implemented every kind of measure aimed at achievingJapan's economic recovery. Supported by the effect of thesemeasures, our economy is showing an emerging sign of change forthe better. At the same time, the nation's businesses andindustries, which until last year suffered from an overhangingstagnant mood, have begun to demonstrate a forward-looking andpositive outlook and attitude. I am determined to ensure asuccessful revitalization of the Japanese economy throughovercoming, with unwavering resolve, any obstacle we mayencounter in the process.

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

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

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