Public Papers - 1991
News Conference of President Bush and Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu of Japan in Kennebunkport, Maine
The President. May I just say at the beginning how pleased Barbara and I are to have the Kaifus -- the Prime Minister of Japan here at Maine. We've begun our talks. And thus, we haven't covered every topic, but one thing that I do want to say up front is that I was very pleased to firmly accept his very generous invitation to come to Japan, and I plan to do that -- we'll work out the exact dates -- but sometime near the end of November. But it is a firm invitation and a firm acceptance, and I'm looking forward to it very much.
Again, Mr. Prime Minister, welcome. Did you want to have an opening?
The Prime Minister. Mr. President, thank you very much for those kind words of yours. I am most grateful that, in spite of the very recent meeting that we had only in past April in California, you've been kind enough to also receive me again here in Kennebunkport in your summer house, in a very family-like atmosphere, with my wife as well. And thank you so much for that.
We've been discussing various matters, and I'm most satisfied with the talks that we've been having. I also would like to thank you for promising to visit Japan later this year. And together with the entire Japanese nation, I'll be looking forward to your visit to Japan.
Q. Mr. President, did the Prime Minister bring a check along? And have you solved the rice problem? And do you think that there's a growing anti-Japanese sentiment in this country?
The President. I can handle this one. Before I answer the question may I say that I predicted with 100-percent accuracy who would ask the first question and what it would be. [Laughter]
The President. On the question of the Gulf, I believe that matter is totally resolved. I think Japan's total contribution has been way up there -- what's -- something like billion. And any differences that might have existed between the United States have been resolved, and we will brief that to the United States Congress.
On the question of rice and agricultural generally, we've just determined to keep working on that. There are differences, no question about that. But we both agree that a successful conclusion of the Uruguay round, particularly shooting for the end of the year or early next year, is vital. So, we will keep working the rice question and the other questions. There are four main areas in trade: agriculture, market access, and a couple of others. And I think we'll keep working those, not just with Japan but with Europe. We've got some big problems with Europe. I'm satisfied we can work them out.
And on the third part of that question, I don't know too much about how matters are in Japan today, and that's one of the reasons I'm very anxious to go to Japan. And very candidly, there may be some elements there of anti-American feeling, and I can't deny that some elements in this country appear to want to bash Japan, to use a common expression.
I think Japan has been a good partner in many, many ways. And we have a strong bilateral relationship that I believe this visit will enhance even further. To those in either country that might harbor concerns about the other, let me simply say this relationship is big, it's broad, it's strong. It transcends any one issue or another. And I salute the Prime Minister for his part in strengthening this bilateral relationship that I feel so strongly about. It is critical.
And the United States has broad interests in Asia, and Japan has broad interests, as one that's helped us enormously in South America. And so, where there are differences they are outweighed by the common ground that we share and the common objectives that we share.
Would you, Mr. Prime Minister, do you want to -- it's a very important question. Would you be interested in saying anything? If not, we'll go to the next question.
The Prime Minister. Let me also respond to those questions very briefly. First of all, from the very beginning, Japan has been cooperating in the context of activities to recover peace in the Gulf area, and to date, we submitted to the Diet, the Japanese Parliament, a bill for appropriating such contributions. We asked the Japanese people to accept a tax increase for that purpose. And as a result, we expended a total of more than billion.
I explained this to the President during our meeting today, and he kindly understood that point and he was kind enough to say that he appreciated these Japanese contributions.
As regards the rice issue, I explained to the President that the Japanese position and the efforts we've been making and will be making with the determination that the Uruguay round must come to a successful conclusion, and we agreed that the difficulties that all of us have respectively, the difficulties for the United States or for Japan and the European communities, must be discussed and resolved in the process of the Uruguay round negotiations.
We believe that Japan-U.S. relations go far beyond just these individual problems like the Uruguay round negotiations. In the London economic summit meeting that will be held just in a few days, we'll have to discuss how we're going to address the question of support for the Soviet Union or the major issues that exist in the Asia-Pacific region. And there's also the Latin American question which President Bush just referred to, as well as our response to the East European situation. There are numerous problems that are common to all of us, and we have come to agreements on many of those issues as well.
Let me say one last thing. When it comes to Japan-U.S. relations, we believe that instead of bashing each other we should be basking together, looking ahead in the same direction. And to enable us to do that, we should be engaged in joint efforts.
The President. Have you got one for the Prime Minister?
Q. Mr. Prime Minister, both of you are about to meet Soviet President Gorbachev. I believe both of you have received a long letter from him. Some people suggest that Mr. Gorbachev is racing ahead to settle a START agreement so that he can get some economic benefits from the West. Is that true?
The Prime Minister. Well, my views are that, to the extent the correct orientation of perestroika continues or sustains, then the West should support the Soviets. And regarding what would be necessary in that respect, we had discussion last year at the Houston summit meeting, and following that summit meeting there was a survey conducted by IMF and three other international institutions which produced a report.
We today, have been providing the maximum possible technical support for the Soviets, and we shall try and give support to them so that the Soviet Union will become a member of the international community, sharing the same orientation with us.
The President. May I add on that that I agree with the Prime Minister's approach there, and there is no linkage of the nature you asked about between conclusion of a START agreement and economic aid to the Soviet Union. They're simply not linked. They're both important; each is important in its own right. We will be addressing the economic situation in a multilateral way at the G - 7.
But the START agreement, there's not truth to the matter that he's speeding up START so he can get money or get economic benefit out of the G - 7 meeting -- none, no connection.
Central Intelligence Agency Director Nominee
Q. Mr. President, in view of new revelations that the CIA purposely misled Congress on the Iran-contra affair, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted unanimously this afternoon to indefinitely postpone hearings on the Gates nomination. Do you think that's justified? Are they going to find anything?
The President. One, I don't think that's what they did, and two, they ought to get on with the confirmation. I don't think you can accept some closed-door allegation that -- nothing that I understand involving Mr. Gates -- and suggest that hearings on this fine man should be delayed.
But it's not my understanding, Jim [Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News], that that's what they did.
Q. Well, as I understand it, they postponed the hearings which were to be next week.
The President. I thought they were going to have a -- let me get some help from Marlin. I've been in a meeting all day.
Mr. Fitzwater. I think they just delayed consideration until Monday on when it's going to start. They didn't reach any decisions -- --
Q. A followup to that, sir. You've been head of the CIA, you know how it works. Does it stretch credibility at all to believe that Gates' immediate superior and immediate subordinates knew what was going on and Mr. Gates did not?
The President. Doesn't stretch my credibility because I believe firmly in Bob Gates' word. And he's a man of total honor, and he should be confirmed as Director of Central Intelligence. And when you have behind-doors, closed-door allegations that nobody really knows anything about, I'm not sure where the fairness element comes in on that one, Jim.
That's domestic. Do you want -- do you need a translation?
A question for the Prime Minister, please.
Q. Mr. Prime Minister, there's a lot of interest in my part of the United States, in Texas, in a project called the supercollider, and I know that the United States Government has been seeking Japanese help in this project. First, did you discuss this at all with the President, and secondly, is Japan prepared or planning to make some substantial financial contribution to that project?
The Prime Minister. We did not discuss this issue of superconducting collider today, but in the past, I received explanation from President Bush about the U.S. position on this. And the Japanese Government has in the past received a request for cooperation from the United States.
There is growing awareness in Japan that this sort of thing, superconducting collider, is important for science and technology. And researchers in Japan are studying what sort of cooperation would be possible. However, I am not prepared today, here, to say what sort of financial cooperation is possible. And I might add that scientific and technological research in Japan is being carried under difficult financial situations as well.
Q. Mr. President -- --
The President. Now, wait a minute. These guys haven't had any -- the Japanese press corps.
But let me say on the supercollider, we only got this far through our talking points and we've got this far to go -- supercollider is in here. [Laughter]
Q. Are you going to ask him for some funds?
The President. Toshiki, be careful. [Laughter]
I think -- we haven't heard from any of the Japanese press.
Japan-U.S. Relations and the Soviet Union
Q. The question was whether -- the question of intariffication was raised by the President with regard to the rice issue, and whether there was a discussion on financial support for the Soviet Union.
The Prime Minister. We did discuss the rice issue, as I mentioned earlier, but not in specifics. As I mentioned earlier, what we said was that we ought to deal with these difficult issues in the course of these Uruguay round negotiations, and that Japan would make its efforts to bring about a successful conclusion of the Uruguay round talks by the end of this year.
As regards support for the Soviets, we believe it is important to first sound out what are the wishes of the Soviets, and we would have to know more clearly what the economic state of that country is, the political situation is there, and so on. So, we've not said that we'll be giving financial support for that country.
The President. Time is running out. We're going to take one more for each of us, if that's agreeable to you, Mr. Prime Minister.
Q. Let me followup on that question regarding economic support for the Soviet Union. You mentioned the political situation or the political context. Now, there still remains the northern territories issue between Japan and the Soviet Union. Did you, Mr. Prime Minister, explain to the President that until the territorial issue is resolved, Japan will not be in a position to provide large-scale financial support, and were you able to have the President's understanding of that Japanese position?
The Prime Minister. First of all, when we say political context, in the first place, we believe that there must be a clear indication from the Soviets regarding their determination to adopt a market economy, and they also have to indicate to us their outlook of transformation into a market economy.
Of course, in this regard, what is most important is self-reliant efforts by the Soviets themselves. And both of us agreed that we would not spare our efforts in cooperating with them by providing technical support or knowledge or international support for them.
Secondly, they also have to make clear to us that they will be shifting their resources away from military to civilian purpose or civilian use. This is a matter that was discussed last year at the Houston summit meeting as well.
And the third point is in the context of international relations, Soviet perestroika, or that new-thinking diplomacy, will have to be applied more broadly across the globe. So, these are the points that comprise the political context which I mentioned.
Now, between Japan and the Soviet Union, I, myself, had a meeting with President Gorbachev recently and a joint declaration came out which recognized the primary importance of the efforts to sign a peace treaty through the resolution of the territorial issue, and that we should be accelerating our work for that purpose. And there is an awareness on both sides that it is important to expand our relations towards a better balance. This President Bush understood kindly and gave his support to.
The President. May I -- Toshiki, with your permission -- I'm in trouble because I recognized two different reporters. And if I might take these two that will end it, if that's agreeable.
Q. Thank you, sir. I want to return to the issue of rice and the Japanese position on rice imports into their country. Does that make your job more difficult when you go to Europe and trying to get them to break down, to lower their barriers to American agricultural imports?
The President. Well, clearly, if we could get agreement on rice, it would facilitate the whole Uruguay round process. Having said that, there are things in our agricultural policy that cause some of our foreign friends difficulties. I'd cite the agricultural enhancement program. And some raise with us quotas that we have on various commodities. So, what we've got to do is lay all these things on the table and try to bring them to a conclusion, hopefully by the end of the year.
Associated Press -- Rita [Rita Beamish, Associated Press]?
Q. Mr. President, you received a long letter from Mr. Gorbachev this morning, as you said, and we're told that in it he outlined the presentation that he'll make to you and the other G - 7 leaders next week in London, and presumably, answering some of the specific concerns that you had before you were willing to make any pledges on economic assistance for the Soviet Union. Can you tell us whether, in fact, you feel, after looking at this, that you are satisfied enough that his reforms are proceeding and he has an adequate plan that you can pledge some assistance? And secondly, can you give us an idea of what, in fact, he's asking for? And is it a promise to demilitarize the economy and seek technical and other types of assistance?
The President. It is true that President Gorbachev, in a spirit of openness and candor, conveyed a rather long document to the United States and to the other summit participants. Indeed, I handed a copy of that to Prime Minister Kaifu just up in the living room, up here during our discussions. And we left a copy -- gave a copy this morning, just chopped it off early for Secretary Baker.
Now for the bad news. I have not had a chance to read this entire document, nor be briefed on the entire document. It's working its way through our experts. Doug Paal is up here with us, and General Scowcroft, I believe, has had a chance to look at it briefly. But I'm just not in a position to comment on it, and respond to this penetrating and most appropriate question, because we have not reviewed it. But it's unlikely that it will have all those ingredients that you say -- that you asked about.
Rita, did that cover all those?
Q. Yes. If I could just followup, though. We've seen reports from Gorbachev and Soviet officials that they will promise to demilitarize the economy and to seek investment and technical assistance rather than some large cash donation. Just based on these preliminary reports, do you have a sense, though, that you will be able to come together and respond favorably to Gorbachev, what he's asking?
The President. Without full analysis, I'm confident we can come together. And I would identify myself with the remarks made by Prime Minister Kaifu a minute ago in terms of the common approach that we will be taking as we try to help and assist the Soviet Union.
So, that concludes the press conference. But, Toshiki, let me just say once again, we are very pleased you're here. And now I would like to invite you to go out in my boat, and we'll look at some of our natural resources, the seals. And for those who are staying at the Shawmut, we will come tearing by and give you a wave, and you can eat your hearts out.
Thank you very, very much.
Note: The President's 90th news conference began at 4:30 p.m. on the lawn of his residence at Walker's Point. The Prime Minister spoke in Japanese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. In the news conference, the following persons were referred to: the Prime Minister's wife, Sachiyo Kaifu; Robert M. Gates, Assistant to the President and Deputy for National Security Affairs, and nominee for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Marlin Fitzwater, Press Secretary for the President; Douglas H. Paal, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Asian Affairs for the National Security Council; and Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Prior to the news conference, the President and the Prime Minister met privately in the residence. Later in the evening, the President and Mrs. Bush hosted a private dinner in their residence for the Prime Minister and Mrs. Kaifu.