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National Archives

Public Papers - 1991 - December

Exchange With Reporters on the South Lawn


Pearl Harbor

The President. I do want to say that I'm looking forward to going to Pearl Harbor. I think for me and a lot of other Americans of my generation this is a very emotional time. And this will be a very emotional day tomorrow. But I also approach it as a day of healing, appropriately honoring those who died at Pearl Harbor and those who were killed in World War II after Pearl Harbor.

But also what I want to do is put the focus on the fact that yesterday's enemies in Europe and in Asia are now our friends. And a lot of healing has taken place. I take great pride in the fact that the United States reached out the minute the war was over to both Japan and Germany.

So, in terms of my emphasis I'll be honoring those who made this era of peace possible. And it was that big of an event. But also trying to keep the country's focus on the fact that those former enemies are now friends. And we're working with them under a democratic system to make this world better. And really in terms of the economic side of things to work together for an increased global economy, a bigger global economy which will serve the needs of all people including workers in this country and in Japan and in Germany.

So it's an exciting time. As I say, in a sense for me it will be emotional because like a lot of those veterans out there I lost friends, my roommates, two roommates killed in action off our carrier. And yet, I go there with no rancor but with the wonderful feeling that things have moved dramatically forward in a very positive way. So, this is what this trip is about, and we'll be back here early Sunday morning.

Internment of Japanese-Americans

Q. Will you at Pearl Harbor be apologizing in any way for the U.S. internment of Japanese-American citizens who were -- --

The President. I will acknowledge that as an era of a tragic thing, loyal Americans put into camps because of race. Congress took appropriate action last year. But yes, I will point out that was one of, on our side, one of the tragic things that happened. And, of course, it will never happen again but it was a not a very -- it was a very shameful chapter in an otherwise glorious achievement, you might say. The total victory over imperialism and totalitarianism.

Q. Mr. President do you think Japan should apologize for -- --


Q. Mr. President, the unemployment figures are up again do you think something should be -- --

The President. No, I thought I saw that the unemployment numbers were about the same.

Q. Well, according to the morning shows the number of new people that signed up for unemployment -- --

The President. Yes, but what I'm talking about is what we always go by which is the unemployment total numbers. And the economy is far too slow, but a lot of news media yesterday were predicting an increase in unemployment. And to me it looked like it was 6.8 which is too high. And I think we ought to put the focus on that and try to at least, you know, report it as it is. I think that's what it said, and I'm glad because I think many were predicting -- --

Q. Seven.

The President. -- raising -- seven or something like that. So, please, don't go into these little details. Let's look at the big picture is what I'm trying to do.

Timing of Action on the Economy

Q. My question is whether or not you should, can we wait until the State of the Union for you to unveil your new economic plan?

The President. Well, we've already put into effect .7, accelerated .7 billion worth of spending yesterday. Nobody can wait in terms of the hardship of somebody that's unemployed. But you want to be able that when you do something, to get it done through Congress in a way that doesn't set things back and moves the employment figures up and the unemployment figures down. And I want to keep interest rates reasonably well.

So these hearings will help us. I talked to Rostenkowski this morning. I thought Darman, Brady and Boskin did a good job yesterday. There may be other things. We're looking all the time for things we can do before we get Congress back here to take a major step forward but I think we can do that.

Q. Can you absolutely rule out seeking to break the budget agreement?

The President. I would leave the testimony the way it was yesterday. It was handled beautifully by our people.

Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:41 a.m. prior to his departure for Ontario, CA. In his remarks, the President referred to Dan Rostenkowski, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means; Richard Darman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas F. Brady; and Michael Boskin, Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

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