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National Archives

Public Papers - 1992 - January

Remarks to Japanese and American Students in Kyoto, Japan


Thank you all very much. Why don't you all please be seated? [Laughter] Let me just say what a pleasure it is to be here with our very able Ambassador in Tokyo, Mike Armacost, who is doing a superb job. He's one of the great career Ambassadors of our service, and he's in a difficult and an important post, and he is doing an outstanding job. And I'm very pleased that he's here with us today.

I want to also say how pleased I am to be here with the former Prime Minister, Toshiki Kaifu. When he was Prime Minister and I was President, we worked very closely together on a lot of matters relating to world peace, better understanding between Japan and the United States. He was frank; he was straightforward; he was friendly to our great country. And I can tell you, I will never forget his many courtesies to me, and I will never forget what he did to strengthen the relationship between these two great countries, Japan and the United States. So Toshiki, thank you, sir, for all you've done.

And it's a great pleasure to have this first day of our trip to visit these ancient centers and shrines of really the Japanese soul and the Japanese nation, Kyoto and, later this afternoon, Kashihara in Nara Prefecture. But I come as a friend. I come with some ideas that we're going to be discussing with the Government in Tokyo starting tomorrow, and I also bring an open interest in learning a lot more about this great country.

I want to take note of the achievements of three mayors, Mayor Kumakura, Mayor Aoki, and Mayor Kudo, over here. These guys, they're from small towns in rural Japan, and these mayors have been instrumental in the establishment of branch campuses of American universities. And I really firmly believe, and you all are better equipped to speak to it than I, that these grassroots exchanges pay important benefits to both our countries. So, thank you very, very much, sir, all three of you, for what you're doing.

Let me just say to the students, this is kind of what we call in the trade a cameo appearance; you're in here and you're out of here in a hurry. But to the students of the Stanford Center, well, one or two here -- [laughter] -- and the Kyoto program students at Doshisha University -- [laughter] -- how many are there? When I click all these things off, it would be fun to see. University of Michigan, how many there? [Applause] All right. And how about the Aggies, Texas A M? [Applause] Small but vocal contingent over here.

Incidentally, what the former Prime Minister was referring to is that each President, as you all know, Americans know, when he gets out of office, has a library, archive for the papers. And mine is going to be in my home State, but at Texas A M. And I'm looking forward to that very, very much; not too soon. [Laughter]

Let me just click off, for some of the journalists with us today, some things that I know you all know. About 2,000 American students now attend undergraduate and graduate programs in Japan. Many more Japanese students take part in comparable programs back in the U.S. And more than 1,000 Americans now teach in Japanese schools. And I hope that we will continue to do everything that we can to promote greater and greater participation in these important exchanges in the years to come.

They open up, in my view, new intellectual and cultural horizons, and these experiences really, I think, turn an awful lot of participants into the great leaders of our country, and both countries I might say. Look at today's Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister Miyazawa. When he was a university student, some may not know this, he took part in the sixth Japan-America student conference at the University of Southern California.

I also want to single out once again Prime Minister Kaifu. Toshiki's first travel to the United States was through the U.S. Information Agency's International Visitors Program. And then as Minister of Education and later as Prime Minister, he made great efforts to promote educational and executive exchanges that really do foster understanding between our two countries. Another leader who recognized the value of exchanges was my friend the late Minister Abe, Foreign Minister of Japan, who passed away. But the Global Partnership Fund, which he was so instrumental in organizing, carries on his good work today in supporting these student exchanges.

So in all, they are an aspect of the major purpose of this visit to Japan, namely to open and expand opportunities for interchange between our countries. And I want the people of our countries to have a far better understanding of one another. We need more Americans who can speak Japanese and who understand the workings of the Japanese marketplace.

I want to increase access for American goods and services in these Japanese markets. Open markets, like student exchanges, yield a bounty for all who participate. They help each other better understand. Open markets lift the technical progress to new heights. And they raise everybody's standards and benefit consumers, as a matter of fact, through the expanse of the global marketplace.

I've been saying this as I've traveled on this trip through Asia, but I am strongly convinced -- I'm sure there are some economic majors out here -- I am strongly convinced that free and open commerce is not a zero-sum game. Free trade on a level playing field creates jobs and lifts standards in both of our countries. So, the challenge of global competition can be driving our efforts for educational reform.

I don't know whether it's caught up with you all here, but we have a nationwide program called America 2000, has people from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, from Governors in all States, helped me set the six major educational goals. American educational leaders and experts look to Japan for some examples as to how we can improve our schools.

David Kearns, I don't know if that name rings a bell. He's our number two at the Department of Education. But he visited Japan many, many times to examine Japanese quality products, first when he was the chairman and chief executive officer of one of our great companies, Xerox. He came back with a lot of ideas that he's now trying to help us implement there at the Department. American education experts attach importance to the fact that Japanese parents, more than in our country, are active in the children's schools and demand better performance. So, we're trying to find ways to increase parental interest.

And if I might say a pleasant word of my bride of 47 years as of yesterday, newlyweds we are, I think what Barbara is trying to do in terms of getting kids and getting families to read to their kids and kids to read to one another and adult education all adds into this program which we call America 2000.

Next spring, actually, we're going to hold a meeting of the education ministers of the APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group. And it's going to bring together the total experiences of 15 member societies to raise our common educational standards and to draw the most from our precious resource, the imagination and the energy of our people.

So, student exchanges reach beyond the technical and the expert level. They enrich the individual spirit, and they nourish the cultures of communities and nations. So, we need them. And while we need them to promote efficiency in markets and institutions, we simply must not neglect exchanges in the humanities, in history, fine arts, philosophy, the study of religion, languages, and literature.

Octavio Paz, the 1990 Nobel laureate for literature, put it well when he wrote, ``If human beings forget poetry, they will forget themselves.'' So, those of you all involved in the liberal arts, you have nothing to do but be proud of the work you're engaged in. And if you don't believe it, just ask old Octavio Paz, winner of the Nobel Prize. [Laughter]

But look, I do honor you, salute you for your spirit of scholarship and adventure. And if you get a little lonely from time to time, keep it in the big perspective. As I see it, with the crying need for better education, the crying need for peoples to understand each other better, you are doing something important just being here, just working, just understanding the culture of this great country. In my view, you're really doing something important.

I will simply conclude by this broad comment on my job opportunities, my own, that is. I can't think of a more exciting time in the history of this country, in the recent history of this country, to be President of the United States. Now, you go back to where things were just a couple of years ago as you look at Eastern Europe; you look at parties in the Middle East that weren't even willing to talk to each other; you look at the Soviet Union that we lived in fear of when you all were two or three years younger. You wondered whether we were going to evolve into some kind of a nuclear holocaust, little kids going to bed scared in our country and in other countries all around the world. And that's changing, and it's changing for the better.

And so, it is a very exciting time to represent the only, I guess in terms of both military and economic, the only remaining, what they call superpower. But what we want to do is use our ingenuity and use our energies, well-represented by this group here today, to help people around the world; to assure the peace; to raise the standards of living of our own people by, as I said earlier on, opening markets and having our economy much more vibrant.

So, it's a wonderful time to be fighting these battles and accepting these challenges that will always be with whoever is President of the United States. This, as I say, is a cameo appearance; it's a quick drop-by. But looking around here, I can get a little sense of enthusiasm that occupies this crowd. And I really wanted to wish you a very, very happy new year. And may God bless you in your important work.

Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:29 p.m. in the Cosmos Ballroom at the Miyako Hotel.

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