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Public Papers - 1991

Statement on Japan-United States Relations


I think back to when I met with Prime Minister Kaifu in Palm Springs last March -- 1 year and a world of change. Since then, we closed the last chapter on the cold war. We built a coalition that rescued a tiny nation from a terrible fate. We defended an ideal that is good and right and just.

But our work is far from finished. With change comes new challenges -- for both our nations -- with global implications for growth, stability, and peace.

Our two nations must work to forge a global partnership. And since last year's meeting in Palm Springs, we have made very real progress. In the past year, we have resolved significant trade disputes and we've moved to ease trade tensions.

We've made solid progress, opening new markets to satellites, telecommunications, and wood products. We need to move ahead now in construction services, autos and auto parts, semiconductors, and other areas. We need to prove that our efforts under the Structural Impediments Initiatives produce real results. It remains our best hope of fending off those who advocate managed trade between our nations.

Today, let us reaffirm our commitment to tear down the walls to free and fair trade, and build on the open exchange that helps both our nations.

Our efforts to expand free trade have produced real results. In 1990, the U.S. trade deficit with Japan fell for the third straight year. American exports to Japan continued to rise, up more than 75 percent since 1987. In fact, many Americans would be surprised to learn that Japan buys more goods from the United States per capita than we buy from Japan.

Together, our two nations share a special responsibility to maintain and strengthen the multilateral trading system. Japan and the United States are powerful forces for global prosperity. But we cannot promote continued growth in a world system where free market forces are in retreat.

That is why the success of the Uruguay round trade talks is critical. Along with other nations, Japan and the United States must assume strong leadership roles in knocking down barriers to free trade in all areas, including agriculture. And once again, I call on the U.S. Congress to take decisive action, send a clear signal that America stands for free trade by extending Fast Track procedures.

Trade is just one dimension of our relationship. Last year, our two nations marked the 30th anniversary of our Mutual Security Treaty. Our commitment to common defense has never been stronger, and yet here, too, our longstanding alliance continues to adjust to new challenges and new realities. Just this January, in keeping with its growing economic might, Japan agreed to increase its share of the costs as host nation to American forces.

Let me be clear: The United States welcomes the broadest possible participation by Japan in world affairs. In the past year, we've seen a significant easing of tensions in Europe. I call on Japan to join with us in seeking solutions to regional conflicts that threaten stability in the Pacific. And I thank Japan as a key member of the coalition that triumphed over the forces of aggression in the Persian Gulf. For the first time, Japan contributed to a multinational peacekeeping effort, and it is providing a substantial level of financial support for Operation Desert Storm.

I welcome the visit of Prime Minister Kaifu. We must do all we can to build public support for our relationship and to promote contacts of every kind between the American and Japanese people. Just this last year, Japan's distinguished former Foreign Minister Abe announced the creation of a new foundation to promote exchanges that bring together academics and artists, that encourage tourism and travel.

For more than 40 years, Japan and the United States have been partners -- partners in democracy, partners in prosperity, partners in peace. I am convinced that our meeting today proves that this partnership remains strong, that together we will constitute a source of stability, now and into the next century.

Note: The statement referred to Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu and former Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe of Japan.

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